The Northern Elders Council led by a former Presidential Adviser to a former president, Shehu Shagari, Tanko Yakassai on Thursday lauded President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration’s efforts at tackling the security challenges occasioned by the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect in some parts of the North.
The NEC expressed optimism that the efforts of the administration in managing the security challenges would be sustained if the president and his vice, Namadi Sambo, continued in office beyond 2015.
They also warned politicians and northern leaders against any inflammatory statements that was capable of destabilising the corporate existence of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, a former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, on Thursday emerged the Chairman of the Board of Trustees the Council.
Gambo in his acceptance speech, said they would be committed to the peace, progress, unity and the territorial integrity of Nigeria, noting that “we share and endorse this commitment without reservation.”
He said, “Many of us have spent most of our lives in the service to this great country and we can say with boldness and a clear sense of responsibility that we owe it to our children and children’s children to make this country more stable, more united and more prosperous than ever before.
“We recognise the efforts of the Federal Government under the able leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan in managing the complex challenges with firmness and effectiveness.
“We are convinced that such efforts can take this country out of the turbulent waters of insurgency and underdevelopment.
“We also seize this opportunity to register our appreciation for the harmonious working relationship that exists between the President and our leader, Vice-President Namadi Sambo. It is demonstration of leadership by example in our quest to promote peaceful co-existence among the people of different religion, ethnic and regional backgrounds. We appeal to all Nigerians to follow this shinning example.”
Speaking at the inauguration of the 19-man member of the Board of Trustees, the Council’s Chairman, Tank Yakassai, warned politicians and regional leaders to desist from making provocative statements that are capable of destabilising the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria.
He said rather than embark on such retrogressive activities, they should close ranks with the Federal Government in the quest for sustainable peace and development in the land.
Governors Mukhtar Yero (Kaduna), Idris Wada (Kogi) and the Deputy Governor, Sokoto, Mukhtar Shagari also stressed the need for peace and unity in the region.
They charged the Council to ensure that peace and unity reigned in the North as was in the days of the Premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
Represented by his deputy, Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga, Yero tasked the elders and other critical stakeholders in the North to assist the government in finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency in the region.
He said the North could not grow like other regions when it remained backward in education and other sectors of the economy.
He said, “This gathering here is coming at a time when the North is facing security challenges orchestrated by the Boko Haram sect. This security challenges has crippled socio-economic activities in the region. And for the north and indeed, the entire country to come out of this problem, these elders and political leaders believe that unity remains the key to tackle the problem.
“And while the agitation for power shift continues to raise dusts across the various tribes and zones in the country, the message of this elders is that no region or religion has the monopoly of leadership, and therefore call for a level playing ground for all Nigerians.
“One of the main objectives of the Northern Elders Council is its commitment to peace and unity of Nigeria. Beyond this gathering, many hope to see these statesmen collaboarating with their counterparts from other regions to pusrsure vigourously the needed peace that has eluded the country for so long.”
Members of the newly inaugurated NEC’s BoT are former military administrator of Plateau State, Col. Habibu Shuaibu (Kano); former military governor of old Rivers State, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (Kaduna); Alhaji Bala Salauwa (Katsina); a former Minister of Mines and Powers, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu (Jigawa); former Sokoto governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto); former governor of old Sokoto State, Dr. Garba Nadama (Zamfara) and former Defence Minister, Dr. Bello Haliru (Kebbi).
Other members are Dr. Shettima Mustapha (Borno); former Police Affairs Miinister, Adamu Waziri; Dr. Hassan Adamu; Prof. Monday Mowanvat (Plateau); former governor of Nasarawa, Aliyu Akwe-Doma (Nasarawa); former Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana (Niger); former Minister of Environment, Dr. Amina Ndalolo (Kwara); Atoza Ihida (Benue) and former governor of Kogi, Ibrahim Idris (Kogi) among others.