AREWA leaders have blamed the political and social predicament facing the region on the failure of the Federal Government to improve the welfare of the people and also guarantee freedom and rights of citizens, saying that this has accounted for the current state of siege in the North.
The buck-passing arising from the dwindling political fortune of the region and the insecurity pervading the geographical area was part of the outcome expressed in the communiquÃ© issued by the northern elders after a two-day symposium held at Arewa House, Kaduna.
In the communiquÃ© issued and read by a one-time member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Usman Bugaje, the Arewa leaders lamented that â€œthe weakening nature and perhaps the failure of the Nigerian State to protect lives and property as well as its inability to provide basic social services and guarantee freedom and rights of citizens cumulatively accounts for the current state of siege in which the North now finds itself.â€
According to Bugaje, â€œthe systematic erosion of cherished values of honesty, tolerance and integrity that were once the hallmark of public service in the North have resulted in bad governance, disregard for the rule of law and general decadence.â€
He also noted that â€œSocial indicators and statistics for all human development perspectives show the dismal crises in education, health, water and sanitation services, thereby placing the region far below its counterparts in the country,â€ pointing out that â€œthe effect of the current insurgency of Ahlas Sunna li dawaâ€™ati wal Jihad and other forms of insecurity have impacted negatively on the socio-economic, political and the religious life of the people.â€
The Arewa leaders further argued: â€œEconomic growth and development, commerce and trade in both formal and informal sectors of the northern states are being stifled with multiplier on the larger national and African sub-regional economies. The general conduct of the JTF and how the fundamental rights of the citizens of the north are being violated in clear breach of the rules of engagement. It is expected that the JTF will strictly abide by the professional terms of engagement in the interest of peace.â€
However, the northern leaders resolved among others:
â€¢ That with over 72 percent of the national landmass and favourable climatic condition for both rain-fed and irrigation farming, millions of livestock and other sundry agricultural endowments, the north has to modernise its agriculture with all the priority attention required to return the region to its erstwhile leading position as the food basket of the nation.
â€¢ That human capital development being the key to enhance living standard must be given special attention to address the northern peculiarities in the primary, secondary and vocational education as well as the provision of required trained manpower for primary health care to give special priority to the eradication of all preventable diseases in the region.
â€¢ That the federal government in liaison with state governors, the affected communities, religious leaders should get together to genuinely dialogue with the insurgents with the view to ending the insecurity in the north,
â€¢ That there is the urgent need to explore and exploit the abundant mineral resources existing all over north in order to generate more revenue in support of the developmental needs of the region and
â€¢ That the Northern Region will create a strong and united platform to address the current security situation and the politics of the North with particular reference to 2015 elections.
The conference, which was organised by the Arewa Research and Development Program (ARDP) under the auspices of Arewa House – Centre for Historical Research and Documentation, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, drew participants from a broad spectrum of concerned northerners including former Heads of State, Vice President, Governors, former Chief Justice of the Federation, federal legislators, academics, erstwhile ministers, federal and state Permanent Secretaries, retired Generals and Police Chiefs, serving heads of federal and state agencies, businessmen, women and youth groups.
The objectives of the conference were stated as follows:
.To bring all the disparate groups working in different directions but all with the aim of promoting northern interests within a greater Nigeria under one platform,
.To complement and harmonize all efforts being made by long existing groups, northern elders and the Northern Governors Forum with a view to creating a formidable, all inclusive Pan- Northern platform to tackle the problems of the north in particular and Nigeria in general,