Thursday, January 27, 2022

The ACF and how not to be a leader of the North, by Zailani Bappa

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Many a Northerner would tell you the good old values of the old North are dead, including its cherished quality of leadership. Some few months ago when the Governors of the South-South geo-political zone descended on Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle over the needless, albeit, political gold mining controversy, the Governor wondered if the North still had elders any more as no one spoke in defense of the North over the spurious attacks as at then. Indeed none did to date!

In his utter disappointment, Governor Matawalle lamented that currently there was no single person or group of persons who could stand up and call Northerners to order. He noticed that we had missed that luxury of having a rallying point of elders who we could rally around and depend on any issue pertaining to our dear region.

I could remember the olden days in the late 1970s and the early 1980s when the Nigerian media hyped a masked powerful group of influential, yet respected, persons in the National North christened by the same press as “KADUNA MAFIA”. This group, according to the then Nigerian media, ruled Nigeria. The group was like an iron cast and rock hard support and protection to the entire gamut of Northern interests in the polity called Nigeria.

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But all these are now history. As time passed by, a lot of Northerners later hinged their hopes in the then Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF. It was, however, to me like the proverbial drowning man who would clutch at a sharp sword in a bid to save himself. This proved to be right only in a very short period of time before the ACF dived into partisan politics and became mired in pre-modal interests. The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, sprang from the feud and, since then, the North had two parallel bodies of “elders”.

Significantly, these two bodies divided the North and, in true nature of the genesis of their crisis, they fully metamorphosed into political groups. The two bodies do not “see eye to eye”. They talked shop and they talked politics all the time.

It’s no wonder that the ACF has recently become palpably angry with Governor Matawalle when he spoke out about the burning security issue in his state into which he has laboured to bring some semblance of peace.

When the unfortunate abduction of Jangabe schoolgirls took place the governor swooped into action and, with the help of security agencies, he secured the release of the schoolgirls. The governor boldly told Nigerians that they would be shocked if he discloses the persons behind the abduction of the schoolgirls.

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In a statement credited to the ACF, the body harshly asked him to disclose the names of those he accused of aiding and abetting banditry in his state. ACF asked the Federal Government to consider Governor Matawalle as a culprit if he refuses to do so. He, therefore, disclosed the names of the accused.

While growing up in a typical Northern home, some of us had experienced wisdom from the way our parents dealt with us as their children. When there was a dispute between us, our parents would not dwell on one and harass him because he displayed unorthodox behavior in the feud. They would bring us together and calmly listen to each party before they took a decision either to settle us or reprimand the one discovered to be guilty.

That is leadership! That is the wisdom of true elders!

However, because the ACF is just a forum of political and partisan interest, it quickly and harshly passed its judgement on Governor Matawalle, knowing fully well that there must be a strong security intelligence report guiding the statements of every Chief Security Officer, and disclosing information to the public must follow security steps in order not to upset the apple cart.

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Well, Governor Bello Mohammed did not make a vain statement. Either the ACF or its god-children will be unsettled in a very short time to come when their challenge would be faced.

The security situation in Zamfara State is one that requires the sympathy of all. It is quite instructive that in his almost two years in office, Governor Matawalle has recorded excellent landmark achievements in terms of security in the state, but was never for once commended by the ACF.

Zamfara has recorded sporadic attacks with lives lost over this period of time and the ACF has never sent a single message of condolence or commiseration. But today, they angrily remember the state because its Governor decided to let his people know that there is an invisible hand of traitors and saboteurs in support of banditry in the state.

Now I ask, whose bidding is the ACF actually doing?

Mr Bappa wrote in from Zamfara.

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