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Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

North rejects INEC’s 30,000 new polling units

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Jega4By Lawrence Olaoye, Ali Abare Abubakar, Abuja & Femi Oyelola, Kaduna

The North on Monday in Kaduna State rejected the allocation of additional polling units  by the Independent National Electoral Commission, noting that the exercise was skewed to favour the Southern part of the country.

This was the outcome of an emergency meeting between the umbrella body of the north, Arewa Consultative Forum, and all non-governmental organisations in the region on Sunday at the ACF’s Secretariat in Kaduna.

In a  communique signed by the ACF’s Secretary-General, Col. John Ubah, retd,  and the Secretary-General of  the Code Group, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the northern groups were, however, silent on whether the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, should resign over  the creation of additional polling units as demanded by the South-South leaders, led by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and others.

They were also disturbed by the insecurity in the North occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents that had over the years crippled socio-economic activities in some parts of the region.

ACF and the groups blamed the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration for doing nothing to arrest the situation.

Consequently, the North under the aegis of the Arewa Consultative Forum said it had resolved to summon its past leaders like former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon; a former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari; and former Heads of State -Maj Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), Gen Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

It said it planned to let them realise that they had not done enough to influence the government on the security and economic well-being of the people of the North.

In addition, the coalition said it resolved to “request the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives and all legislators from the North to note that northerners expect them to exercise greater commitment towards ensuring that President Goodluck Jonathan’s government is made more accountable to northerners and the citizens of Nigeria in the manner it handles national security and the management of resources of the nation.”

It said it would “remind northern governors that citizens are disappointed with their seeming neglect of the security and welfare of the people of the North. In the next few weeks, activities of joint committees will approach governors and involve them in mobilising citizens towards supporting all measures to improve security in the North, and will inform northerners of responses of all our elected leaders.”

Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Council (NEC), chaired by Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, yesterday alleged that the leadership of the ACF has been hijacked by some opposition politicians.

Yakasai, who, in a press conference yesterday responded to an address by the ACF Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, at a meeting with some northern-based NGOs in Kaduna, said, “Firstly, we wish to observe that since the emergence of the current leadership of the ACF, there has been a derailment and non-compliance with the mission and vision of the founding fathers of the forum.

“A motley crowd of desperate opposition politicians have hijacked its machinery. It is becoming more and more isolationist even within the region, this has greatly degraded the respectability and non-partisanship of the ACF,” he said.

Yakasai said the ACF’s comment that President Goodluck Jonathan has failed the North only confirmed that the allegations of partisanship and that the ACF is hobnobbing with the opposition elements and unrepentant critics of Jonathan’s administration.

His words: “Northern Elders Council (NEC) regrets totally the way and manner the ACF Chairman addressed the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, HisExcellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in his recent press conference. To saythat “President Jonathan doesn’t like the North” is outrageous and uncharitable. And to say he has failed, is untrue.”

While affirming that the ACF chairman was not speaking the minds of the North, Yakasai warned again stallowing the organization to be hijacked by those who do not mean well for the country.

He said the ACF failed to consult with prominent northerners serving in Jonathan’s administration before condemning his efforts to combat terrorism.

Yakasai said “The issue of security is of grave concern to all. In this light, we strongly believe that before making a statement on such matter, the ACF Chairman should have widely consulted especially with key managers of the security establishment who are eminent Northerners and who are in the frontline in the fight against Boko Haram, such as the National Security Adviser, Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), the Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd), Minister for Special Duties, Alh. Jabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN) and the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba.

“This lack of consultation characterizes the poverty of ideas of the present ACF leadership, which jumps to the press on ruinous and reckless allegations,” the NEC boss said.

He called on all well-meaning northerners and Nigerians in general to appreciate the sacrifices of the security agencies, heroic Armed Forces personnel and provide succour to internally-displaced persons in the region.

It would be recalled that only recently, the ACF accused President Jonathan over his inability to protect Nigerians, particularly those from the northern part of the country, in the face of the prevailing insecurity occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram.

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