September 7th, 2012
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called on Boko Haram to lay down arms, and praised the efforts of the federal government to dialogue with the militants. It also criticized those Nigerians who question Nigeria’s status as one united country.
In a strongly-worded communiqué, issued following a Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting chaired by Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni and a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting chaired by Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, which SaharaReporters obtained in Abuja this afternoon, ACF told the militants: “Enough Is Enough.”
According to the statement, which was signed by ACF spokesperson, Anthony Sani, both meetings considered the festering security challenges posed by Boko Haram; ethno-religious crises in some states of the North; the spate of kidnappings and communal clashes across the South-East; the widespread armed robberies in the South-West; and the militant activism and oil bunkering in the South-South.
“The meetings agreed that the endorsement of dialogues by the federal government was praiseworthy,” the communiqué said, expressing appreciation of the efforts of Northern state governors in setting up a panel to help find a lasting solution to the country’s security challenges and calling on Nigerians to support the governments action.
“The meetings urged members of the Boko Haram to embrace the offer of dialogue by laying down their arms,” it further said. “Enough is enough.”
Turning to those Nigerians who have called into question into question the “settled issue” of Nigeria as one united country, ACF said it considered expressions of ethnic nationalism as manifested by recent declaration of autonomy and hoisting of flags and anthems by some groups as unhelpful. It noted that actions which promote cleavages along ethnic and religious lines are unlikely to inspire national solidarity that must go with our relative pluralism.
Given that background, ACF praised the actions of some religious leaders whom it said took it upon themselves to promote tolerance and accommodation between faiths through interdenominational breaking of fast as hoisted by Archbishop John Onaiyekan at Abuja; Archbishop Kaigama in Jos and many others who stood guard at places of worship while members of the opposite religion prayed. It therefore called on all religious, political as well as community leaders to follow suit for collective good.
On the debate over amending the constitution, ACF objected to the concern expressed by the presidency that further discussions of certain issues should stop.
“It was the considered view of the meetings that, given the fact that progress comes from change through robust debates, and the fact that democracy is a contest of ideas and reasons, the debates should continue provided it is conducted with decorum and sense of patriotism.”
“The meetings expressed concern with the current state of affairs in the New Nigerian Development Company, NNDC, and urged Northern state governments to look into it,” the statement said. “The meetings regretted that oil exploration proceeds at snail speed in Northern Nigeria. In view of recent discoveries of crude oil in areas of similar geological character with Northern Nigeria, the meeting reiterates its call on federal government to expedite action on oil exploration.”