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Friday, 17 January 2014

Jonathan’s Men Scuttle Northern Elders’ Parley

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The presidency yesterday pulled strong strings to interfere with a joint meeting of Northern Elders’ Forum and the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers as officials of the federal government stormed Luggard Hall, the Kaduna venue of the meeting.
The uninvited delegation comprised the representative of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the director-general of the anti-terrorism agency, General Sarkin Yaki Bello, governor of Kaduna State Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, governor of Bauchi Isa Yuguda, governor of Kebbi State Saidu Dakingari, and the deputy governor of Niger State, Musa Ibeto, who represented the Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu.
As a result, the meeting did not go as planned, as the original schedule of events at the gathering was truncated by the presence of the presidency’s delegation who got themselves listed on the programme of events to deliver an unscheduled goodwill message.
LEADERSHIP exclusively gathered that the meeting was deemed necessary after a discussion between the Danmasanin Kano, Maitama Sule, and His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III, after the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs meeting in Abuja last year.
The decision prompted the NEF to write a letter to the Sultan inviting him to a joint meeting of NEF and the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers, and an initial date of January 13 was fixed for the Kaduna meeting.
The Maulud public holiday warranted a shift of the January 13 date and was shifted to January 15.
But according to a source who spoke exclusively to LEADERSHIP, just five days to the meeting, there was alleged pressure from the presidency and some state governors on the traditional rulers not to attend the meeting.
The elder’s forum was surprised about the interference from the presidency as such kinds of meetings were held in the south-west and south-east without any interference from the Presidency.
“The forum did everything to ensure that the meeting takes place,” said the source.
“Last Tuesday, we received a letter from the presidency that a delegation of some governors and some top government officials will be attending our meeting.
“We then told them that we did not wish to meet with the governors; our meeting is strictly for northern elders and northern traditional rulers. And what explanation do we offer the other governors and political party officials as the governors enlisted to attend are all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors and are seen as loyalists of President Jonathan.
“We had a brief meeting this morning and resolved that if the governors should attend our meeting, we will cancel and postpone it as we did not invite them.
Expectedly, on arriving at the venue of the meeting, we had governor of Kaduna, Bauchi, Kebbi and deputy governor of Niger at the event. In fact, a programme of events was printed and shared with a speech schedule for them all,” he said.
He said the forum kept to its earlier resolution of boycotting the meeting and leaving them with the traditional rulers but that the Sultan intervened and pleaded with the elder’s to allow them to deliver their message.
“That was exactly what happened. After a series of discussions, we agreed with His Eminence’s suggestions through the Etsu Nupe to allow them to deliver their unscheduled goodwill message and leave.
“But they refused to leave quietly. They also insisted that the press should not cover what Maitama Sule had to say. Twice we brought the press in and twice they sent them away. So the elders now agreed to continue the meeting without press coverage,” he said.
According to him, the elders and the royal fathers continued their meeting during which they deliberated extensively on the issues affecting the north and the way forward.

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