From: Ahmed Kaigama, Bauchi
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has observed that the North, with about 40 million voters out of the 70 million total registered voters in Nigeria, is the major fulcrum upon which national unity of the country must be anchored.
According to a member of the forum, Barrister Solomon Dalung, the North has therefore the electoral value on its own proceeding to elect the President of Nigeria without collecting one single vote from anywhere.
Dalung, was speaking while delivering an inaugural lecture with the theme: “National Conference: National Unity & the North”, organized by the Bauchi Generational Leadership Awareness Initiative, held in Bauchi recently.
He explained that the much talked-about national unity cannot therefore be negotiated with a major stakeholder (North) that has both political and geographical advantage, stressing that the uniqueness of the North, is that it has the highest number of ethnic nationalities in the country.
Barr. Solomon Dalung noted that it is only in the North that one can find a complexity of diverse integrated traditional languages acting in harmony with each other, and a unique social system where both Muslims and Christians belong to a single family.
“Therefore, the North cannot be neglected when issues of national unity is being contemplated”, he told the large audience lecture, chaired by a former ABU Vice Chancellor, Professor Ango Abdullahi at Zaranda Hotel, Bauchi.
He further posited, “It is only in the North that you can find the people living in abject poverty, but they celebrate other Nigerians who live in affluence with the money that was made in their place and they were happy with them”.
NEF chieftain queried what else it was looking from the Northerners on issue of national unity, submitting that the North had paid its price, and regretting however, that the unity of the country was at a cross-road.
“It is at a cross-road because the North is not in peace hence Nigeria cannot be in peace, and as I’m talking to you now over 21 local governments in Northeast are already under siege by insurgents”, he stressed.
Dalung revealed that at the time he was delivering the Bauchi lecture, a number of 3.3 million Northerners are refuges in some neighboring countries, whereas some of them in Cameroon even went to the extent of harvesting grains from their hosts’ farms to eat in order to survive.
“In fact, some Nigerians are driven to the extent of stealing to survive and here we have a country where 9.3 million US dollars is trenched somewhere because some people want to buy arms illegally; that money could have provided food for the displaced Nigerians”.
He observed that national unity has been threatened because Nigerians have submitted themselves to manipulation. “We have designated ourselves as slaves to corrupt leaders. We have lost our integrity as people”, he said.
Dalung expressed dismay that Nigerian leaders have failed to be honest and patriotic, but are only interested in dividing Nigerians so long as they will remain in their offices.