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#ENDSARS: Northern Elders Speak

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“investigation may reveal something, a little more than ENDSARS at the end Violent protest targeted at some individuals or group of individuals is what makes it suspicious, whether it’s really the police action causing this or something underneath” —Prof Ango Abdullahi

Right from 1953 rioting to date, the north hardly participate in any anti Nigeria activities because of their commitment to the unity of Nigeria. Anti Nigeria sentiment is more wide spread in Southwest than even in the  Southeast” —-Tanko Yakasai

By Udeh Gabriel, Kaduna

Two leading Northern Elders, Professor Ango Abdullahi and elder Tanko Yakasai have aired their opinions about the ENDSARS protests currently rocking the country.

The elders who spoke exclusively and extensively with Daybreak are unanimous in their  views that certain actions taken by the #ENSARS protesters were suspicious, predetermined and sponsored to break-up Nigeria.

In particular, they alledged that the burning of 50 vehicles of northerners in Aba and in some other states were at the direction of some individuals.

They also raised concerns over the scale of destruction that characterized the protest describing it as mindboggling, asking the federal government to immediately commence a thorough investigation into the matter and ensure that those behind it are brought to book.

In the views of  professor Ango Abdullahi the ENDSARS protest was exclusively organized by certain sections of Southern Nigeria alone to embarrass the federal government.  Tanko Yakasai on the other hand is of the view that the protester are only pursuing an agenda to break up Nigeria by bringing to an end the Buhari administration.

Both Prof Ango  Abdullahi and Tanko Yakasai a former adviser to late President Shehu Shagari also expressed their views on several other national issues  including why the north did not take part in the protest, the security challenges in the northern states among others.

Daybreak Northwest Bureau Chief, Udeh Gabriel, who conducted the interview reports.

investigation may reveal something, little more than ENDSARS at the endProf Ango Abdullahi

Except of interview:

Qus:  Prof. What do you make out of the ENDSARS protest ravaging the country?

The Northern Elders Forum, (NEF) has already issued a statement through its office by Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, who’s the spokesman of the forum on it’s position and the advise the forum offered to the youth and to the elders who advertently may have taken part of the protest is already in the public domain.

Qus.  People are saying  the North did not take part in the protest despite security challenges bedeviling the north, what is your take?

The North has been complaining about insecurity. But those who organised the protests must have decided that it should be a protest exclusively perhaps by only certain section of the country. But we’ve our youth here and tried to find out from some of them whether at anytime they have been contacted by their counterpart in the South over this matter. In fact, the North has been crying more than any other part of the country in recent months, particular because of Killings that has been going on  in the region on a daily basis in different villages in different parts of the north. The crisis in the North has not abated. We have our own problem and we are not very sure if there is not more behind this ENDSARS  protest. And I’m sure investigation may reveal something, a little more than ENDSARS at the end. 

But whenever you see people reacting or acting on any matter, all depends on the information available to them. 

Information is what determines what you do or what you don’t do. So the various reactions and actions from different persons and different group can only be a reflection on how much information, with regards to the protest. 

I’ve not seen the video clip, but some northerners, somewhere around Aba in the Easttern state, said that about 50 vehicles belonging to them were burnt down. I don’t see the relationship. when vehicle driven by people would come under this kind of attack. That is why I said it’s very important for us to know exactly, through various forms of investigations what is really taking place in different states. I understand that different states are undertake different investigations to find out the true story which is a step in the right direction.

After  investigations are completed, we will be able to know the true situation about ENDSARS and whether truly it is  SARS that triggered the kind of protest that we’ve seen in the last few weeks. 

Que. Don’t you think Nigerians have a right to protest bad governance?

The constitution is clear about rights of people and responsibility of the people. That you have certain rights and responsibility, your rights and the right of other people.  Violent protest targeted at some individuals or group of individuals is what makes it suspicious, whether it’s really the police action causing this or something underneath. So until investigation are completed, we’ll not be able to know the truth. 

Que. What can you say about governoment reaction so far?

The early reaction or action of government on the ENDSARS, in coming out to disbanded the SARS, in the first few days was was the best.

If truely the protest was against SARS, the government disbanded it, meaning government   was going to do something different from what SARS has been doing. That was suitable enough for them to have come down and ensure that dialogue would have taken place with the government. But unfortunately, despite government action, the protests continue with violence with attendant loss of lives and valuables.

Que. What do you think is the way forward for the restoration of peace?

I believe it is the responsibility of every Nigeria and government to bring about peace.

“ENDSARS is an agitation to break up Nigeria”

—-Tanko Yakasai

Qus. Elder Tanko Yakasai sir, what is your take on the ongoing ENDSARS protests?

.

EndSARS protest is a slogan given to the agitation for breaking up of Nigeria, that has been orchestrated for the last two years or more. And this is what most Nigerians understand it to be. And that is why most of them did not involve themselves in the demonstration. 

As you have seen, the demonstration was limited to very few areas. Out the 36 states there are vertically not more than 10 states that were involved. Even those states, it was limited to some parts of the state, largely because of the locations where relief materials were stored, in other to steal from it. 

The only area where more people came out in number was Lagos, in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki where the rich are living, there was no protest Most of the participants were those looking for opportunity to loot. But it is good that it happened because people who think they can use media – newspapers and television to incite people to break up their nation are now woefully disappointed because they couldn’t succeed in getting majority of Nigeria even to buy their ideas. It has help and has shown that  agitators for breaking up Nigeria are tiny minority among Nigerians. 

Que. It was observed that the north didn’t participate in the protest at all?

Right from 1953 rioting to date or so, the north hardly participate in any anti Nigeria activities because of their commitment to the unity of Nigeria. Infact the anti Nigeria sentiment is more wide spread in Southwest than even in the  Southeast. Even in the Southwest it is more supported or accepted  by followers or supporters of the defunct Action Group, (AG). As you know the Southwest is divided into two from the beginning – NCNC and AC parties. This division continue to manifest itself in the region even from the Second Republic when there was UPN and NPN. However it is not the entire Southwest that accepted the notion that Nigeria should be destroyed as a country.  Now I’m glad that they have seen the limit that their propaganda can go even in the Southwest.

I havebeen a member of NEPU, a political party that commit itself right from 1951 when the party had its first convention, for the creation of more region at that time in Nigeria, and I’m still in support of that, just to give minority elements right of self determination. The last conference convened by Jonathan administration took a definite position on the issues of the number of regions Nigeria have at moment. We can start form that point of view in addressing some of the problems of the country. 

Que. What can say about ENDSARS protest? 

The only thing new in the demand or agitation of the youth is that of the banning of SARS. And the govemment immediately aceeded to that demand. Most of other demands made by the youths are contained in the 2014 Confab. Whatever the weakness Nigeria is going through, the recommendation of the Confab capture them, if you look through it. We captured all,  the recommendation of other conferences, and most of the recommendation of other conferences were addressed into the 2014 Confab recommendation.

We’ve a democratic governoment in place in the country elected by the people. It does not matter whether you like the faces of the people or not, they were elected. What we’ve in Nigeria is the 1999 constitution used in Nigeria. It’s the supreme legal documents we have. So there’s nothing new in the protest that youth are saying from what is contained in 2014 Confab except the ban on ENDSARS thing which many Nigeria supported and government accepted. Certainly we must have police in Nigeria. Government should look into the problems people complained about, the problem caused by some undesirable elements in the police are still there. But  the government is creating a new one. Let us give it a chance. If there were problems in the past, it will not be repeated again, if not, let them stay. 

Que.  What is your take on the killings at Lekki by Military men?

All l can say is that government has set up enquiry to investigate it.

Que. Do you agree with the position and statement of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on the ENDSARS protest?

I am not a member. I’ve not read it, but what I don’t know is who is the official spokesman of the forum. We used to hear Ango Abdullahi, but I doubt because he issues statements in his capacity not for the meeting. Did you ask Ango why he stop speaking on behave of the group which he has been doing before? Ango said it is Hakeem baba Ahmed that is the spokesman and signed the position statement on behave of the group. But ask him why  he was speaking on behalf of the forum before? Because what I was told by members of the group who are friends, was that Ango was speaking on his own. That he was issuing statement without holding any meeting. 

Even most statement by Hakeem Baba Ahmed who is now appointed as spokesman of the group is  issued not on behalf of the meeting but based on his personal opinion and never called them a communique of a meeting. You know what Communique mean. I’ve been the publicity secretary right from 1954 for 20 years. 

Que. Why did you pull out of NEF.?

Why I’m not a member of NEF and why my own Northern Elders Council, (NEC), is not operating is because the NEF forum supported Buhari,  why we in NEC,  supported Jonathan in 2015, to complete his two terms as it was done by Obasanjo in line with the idea of our rotation arrangement. This is  because rotation was the idea of NPN recommended for between north and south at that time when 36 states was not in place. Now with 36 states, we feel we should not have organisations speaking on behalf of the whole people because all the members of northern elders forum are from the north. ACF is the only Organisation accepted by the people in the north as their own. 

The elders forum was a meeting of people who supported Buhari’s candidature, why Northern Elders Council was form by people who did not support Buhari, but Jonathan

We support Jonathan to do his full two terms so that south- south will be able to complete two terms like we did under Obasanjo.

 The intention was to ensure the six geopolitical zones have opportunity to rule the country for two terms so that rotation will be meaningful. We still stand by that  arrangements till today.

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