THE COALITION OF NORTHERN GROUPS (CNG)
September 13, 2017
Recall that in June this year, we led some Northern Youth Groups and other Northern umbrella organizations to form a Coalition of Northern Groups and took the bold and necessary step to address a petition to the office of the then Acting President of Nigeria on the unfolding developments in the country.
A similar communication was also addressed to the United Nations Secretary General and major foreign diplomatic missions represented in Nigeria, in which we drew attention to the emerging trends in the country that are pregnant with complications and unforeseen consequences.
Our representations in those truly patriotic petitions aim to forestall the drift toward anarchy and bloodshed in Nigeria, and also to alert the Federal Government of Nigeria and the international community as to where responsibility would ultimately lie if such momentous and terrible events ever came to pass.
We expected the warning we issued to be seen as a warning from history which repeats itself according to Karl Marx, once as a farce and twice as a tragedy.
With the current situation in the South Eastern Nigeria, it is therefore inevitable that the following conclusions and inferences should be drawn from what compelled us, out of decent patriotism and love of our country and fellow citizens, to act in the way that we did:
1. That the agitations and disturbances that have been ongoing ceaselessly since the coming to power of the Mumammadu Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo administration in 2015, are aimed at rendering the country practically ungovernable, and ushering in of anarchy and instability, thereby occasioning a change of government by whatever means and tactics.
2. That the targeting of President Buhari’s administration and singling him for attacks and irreverent treatment is aimed at causing inter-regional crisis possibly leading to general unrest.
3. That the resurgence of separatist agitations especially the violent brand by the IPOB and its ilk in the South-East represents a much wider conspiracy to divide Nigeria along ethnic and religious faultlines as well as achieve the balkanization of the North.
4. That the current IPOB brand of agitation is a strategy employed to achieve the results that the coupists of the First Republic failed to realise, namely, increase the weight and relevance of the regions to the detriment and expense of the central government.
5. That the above strategy is also aimed at diminishing the viability of the North and rendering it incapable of standing on its own two feet and competing favourably with other parts of the country by distabilizing the efforts of the Buhari administration to diversify the economy with emphasis on agricultural revival.
6. That if these ultimate objectives of the South East are not met through agitation, propaganda and clamour, resort will be made to more violent means starting with instigation to more unrest and fanning the embers of religious and ethnic discontent.
7. That in the South-East, the agitations for separation and the cry for Biafra would become louder and the agitators supported by their politicians, would become emboldened to act in more radical and violent manner, thereby sparking retaliation in the North with subsequent attacks to be perpetrated against Northerners in the South-East.
8. That in such an event the North would would then be held up as the real culprit and the cause of the breakup of Nigeria.
All the above scenarios are playing out today and are planned to escalate by 2019 and probably in 2018 to prevent a successful conduct of elections and eventually the collapse of democracy.
In this situation, it is essential that the North and northerners remain restrained and refuse to be provoked into reprisals which is the ultimate hope of the conflict instigators.
As cultured people with a long history of tolerance and respect for constituted authority, we call on northerners to resist the temptation of carrying out reprisals and playing to the gallery.
Northerners, in line with their disciplined nature must refuse at this point to be dragged into taking the law in their hands through unnecessary and unproductive confrontations with members of any sectional, ethnic or religious group.
We must remain peacefully focused, mutually respectful, trusting and tolerant as we repose confidence in the ability and committed willingness of the Nigerian security agencies to handle the situation as well as protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian anywhere.
Meanwhile, since we have maintained that our struggle is intellectual based, precautionary and essentially non-violent, we have resolved to take the following actions:
1. The steps taken by this Coalition in June in addressing separate letters to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the UN Secretary-General and foreign Missions in Abuja, shall immediately be followed up by another round of initiatives namely:
a. Addressing a similar communication to the following agencies and officials:
* Chairperson of the African Union (AU)
* President of the ECOWAS Commission
* President of the United Nations General Assembly
* President of the United Nations Security Council
* President of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva
* United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)
* Chairman of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)
* President of the African Court of People’s and Human Rights in Banjul, The Gambia
* Chairman of the African Commission on People’s and Human Rights
* Speaker of the Pan-African Parliament
* Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament
* High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security
* Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
* Chairman and Executive Board members of the National Commission on Human Rights.
2. To immediately reach out to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by marshaling of facts and evidence of incitement to violence and possible mass atrocity crimes or even genocide against the North to be presented to the Prosecutor. The precedents established at the International Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda for instance, regarding the propagation of hate speech and incitement to violence, shall be adduced and presented.
3. To develop plans for effective advocacy and engagement not only with internal partners, but also with external entities that would have to be reasoned with or contacted in event of the rapture or deterioration of the situation in the country.
4. To flag off rounds of effective advocacy and engagement on all matters affecting the region and prepare a reasoned presentation of the Northern viewpoints and positions on all matters related to the current situation.
5. To set out on an immediate circuit to all the 19 northern states to prepare and sensitize the Northern people on the need for calm and peaceful approach to the various positions and scenarios as regards to the unfolding situation in the country, and impress on the Northern people the imperative to be less amenable to provocation by deliberate misinformation and incitement campaigns from other sections.
6. To rededicate efforts in creating the right conditions for peaceful negotiations with other peace-loving groups in every situation on the political dispensation that should emerge now or in the future.
In conclusion, we once again emphatically reiterate the call on all sections of the North to remain calm and law abiding as we reaffirm confidence in government and security agencies to restore peace in the country and protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian.