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Osinbajo, Shettima Blame Northern Leaders For Region’s Woes

Francis Moses captures the views of VP Osinbajo and Gov. Shettima of Borno State decrying the woes of the North by its elites


Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kashim Shettima have taken the current crop of leaders in the northern part of the country to the cleaners for supporting violence, promoting ignorance and breeding poverty in that part of the country.

Speaking at different for a at the weekend, the number two citizen of the country and number one citizen of Borno State told their separate audience peopled by some of their targets to leave up to their responsibilities as leaders of various sectors and redeem the image of the region as the albatross of the entire country.

Osinbajo who spoke at the opening ceremony of Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) Summit, held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja at the weekend under the theme “Building a Safe, Secure and Economically Inclusive Northern Nigeria” blamed the northern elite for abandoning the ethos and values of the regions founding fathers.

According to the Vice-President: “Our history reminds us of the visionary leaders in Nigeria who fired our imagination through  their vision diligence and selfless service,  who did not live or fight to enrich themselves; they did not leave vast personal estates behind, but their names and legacies live in the hearts of the people.

“Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Mallam Aminu Kano, J. S. Tarka and countless others clearly understood the varied issues afflicting  the region, thought through them,  laid the plans and worked selflessly  to realize them”.

Explaining that the 19 northern states of Nigeria “are by far poorer than the rest of the country using the human development indices” for developing economies, he said the Northern Nigerian Economic Summit of 2012 was the first draw attention to some of the depressing statistics about the condition of the North.

In his own remark which was delivered rather frontally before an audience comprising his counterparts from the 19 sister states, Borno State governor and Chairman, Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF), Alhaji Kashim Shettima at the weekend lamented the continuing insecurity crisis, on the  the terrorism of Boko Haram as well as the rising social vices in northern Nigeria.

He said the region has become a theatre of war, terrorism and poverty, by omission of the elite of the region, thereby is dragging the entire country backward from attaining meaningful and inclusive development.

Shettima made these statements during his opening address at the meeting of the 19 northern governors, which was attended by a majority of the governors from the region including the host, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

In this first meeting of the forum in Kaduna since the emergence of the new administration as the NSGF chairman unsettled and ruffled the feathers of his colleagues following his brutally frank accusation of the present crop of past leaders of the North, including the governors whom he says were a mere shadow of the past leaders saying that the present crop of leaders.

This lack of purposeful leadership in his estimation should be held responsible for the socio-economic challenges currently plaguing the region. He even went ahead to say their lack of initiative and leadership has not only left the region high and dry but contributing to dragging the rest of the country to infamy and poverty.

He said: “Regrettably today, our region has become a thriving nest for war, terrorism, deep seated social divisions, senseless violence, mind-boggling intolerance, injustice, destitution, joblessness, and all manners of other social vices, the height of which is the madness called Boko Haram.

“Things have become so bad, so much so that we can say without fear of contradiction that in Nigeria today, poverty glaringly wears a bold Northern face. We have turned our region into a laughing stock, derided by friends and foes alike, and, not without justification as having dragged the rest of the country down with us.

“No amount of lamentation will, of course, solve our many problems. We need to act, and fast too. This generation of northern leaders, led by us the governors, have both a moral and constitutional responsibility as well as a historic opportunity to reverse the negative fortunes of our people.

We must do everything in our power to restore and entrench the lofty values of unity, understanding, tolerance, mutual respect and empathy, justice and mutual coexistence in the minds of our people and region.

We must do firmly and decisively commit ourselves to fighting poverty illiteracy, unemployment, terrorism and other forms violent crimes in the North.

“I dare say that there is no better time to do that than now, when a sequence of events over the last few months is showing that a silver lining is beginning to appear in the dark clouds that have hovered over the North for so long.

“I urge us to take full advantage of this development and dedicate ourselves to, beginning from this meeting and within the shortest possible time, developing a comprehensive blueprint that will take our region and its long suffering people out of the woods.

I solemnly enjoin all of us to put our heads down, get to work and come up with an agenda for the speedy transformation of Northern Nigeria from its current travails into a well modern, well developed, prosperous, progressive, just and united polity for the good of its people and the entire Nigeria.

The first generation of northern leaders -May God Almighty bless them – bequeathed to us a polity, though vast in land mass and complex in its diversity, that showed enormous promise, and was indeed beginning to live to that promise: A polity where the social mantra was unity in diversity, where justice, fairness and equity reigned, where exemplary peaceful coexistence was the order of the day.

“Not only did succeeding generations of leaders including – sadly – our own, fail to sustain the benchmark handed over by our heroes, they let things to progressively and rapidly deteriorate, in the process exhibiting base irresponsibility of the worst kind.

Thus, from those dizzying heights of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s when the North was the cynosure, if not the envy, of all eyes, we plunged to the nadir of the social ladder.

“On my part, I promise, as chairman of this important forum, to do everything humanly possible to ensure unity and purposefulness in our ranks by running an open and democratic system and by carrying everybody along I promise to do my best, and with your support, understanding and cooperation, to transform this forum from a mere talk shop into an action-oriented and agenda setting platform in the interest of all our 19 Northern states and, by extension, Nigeria as whole.

“Although uncountable meetings of the Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF) have been witnessed here in the historically strategic city of Kaduna over the course of a period spanning no less than three decades, today’s gathering, you would agree with me, represents a significant watershed, this being so for a number of reasons.

“First, this is the maiden meeting of the forum since you, my colleagues, so graciously honoured me with the responsibility of steering its affairs as a first among equals.

Indeed, a majority of members are attending the Forums meeting for the first time.

“Second it is the first major meeting of the forum since the emergence of President Muhamadu uari as te rst tie an opposition candidate took over the mantle of leadership as President of our great country and also te rst tie since crisis that nearly tore the forum apart and permanently damage it.

“Third and ore significantly this meeting is coming at critical time in the history of Northern Nigeria when we appear to be on the cusp of a new era; the promise of a transition from seemingly interminable years of hardship, poverty and turmoil – the proverbial Locust Years – to a period of hope, prosperity and calm.

For the first time since the early 1980s, the political leadership of the Northern states seem poised to reverse the negative trends that had so readily sown  the destructive seed of mutual suspicion, distrust and animosity among the teeming people that occupy the vast lands of our states.

I can see the signs of sincere effort and genuine optimism to draw strength in our diversity and change the narrative of our troubled history in the interest of our region’s history, and indeed, the rest of Nigeria. “As leaders of our people at this crucial epoch of our history, and democratically elected ones at that, we are left with no choice but to rise up to the occasion and live up to people’s perfectly understandable expectations. We must seize this moment, for history is beckoning at us”

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