The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has upped the ante on the conditions that must be met by President Goodluck Jonathan by issuing an ultimatum asking the president to end the insurgency and secure the release of the 219 abducted schoolgirls before the end of October, otherwise, he should forget his 2015 ambition.
The forum, in a statement in Kaduna, also alleged that the frequent communal clashes in the north were being engineered to weaken the region politically and economically by interests who intend to exploit such weaknesses for electoral benefits in 2015.
The statement, which was signed by two members of the forum, Mr. Solomon Dalung and Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, also accused the presidency of lacking the will to fight insurgency.
The statement further decried the deep-seated corruption and incompetence in the country, which according to the forum, has “allowed a band of terrorists to take and hold vast parts of our land and population hostage, while every citizen lives in fear that they will be its next victim”.
The forum stated: “The security situation in our nation today represents the most serious threat to our individual and collective lives in our entire history.
“The reality is that the threat posed by what appears to be an insurgency that has many manifestations and defies a clear and consistent identity is growing due to the absence of a clear national consensus over its nature and its solutions.
“The Northern Elders Forum does not believe that the Nigerian military cannot defeat these terrorists. We also reject the notion that multiple internal security challenges such as attacks on villages, ethno-religions conflicts and banditry springing up by the day in many parts of the north are all a coincidence.
“Indeed, we are convinced that most of these conflicts are being engineered to weaken the north politically and economically by interests which intend to exploit such weaknesses for electoral benefits.
“In the light of our firm conviction that the insurgency and related security challenges pose a threat to the 2015 elections and the survival of our nation, we strongly advise President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to bring an end to the insurgency in all its manifestations and produce the Chibok girls before the end of October, 2014.
“The circumstances under which our fellow citizens in and around Gwoza in Borno State in particular live and die will not be tolerated by any people who have a government and a leader who swore to defend them, and they must be reversed immediately.
“In the event that President Jonathan fails to do this, Nigerians will be left with the only conclusion that he has forfeited his right to ask for our mandate beyond 2015.”
The statement described the 2015 elections as critical and called on all political parties to demonstrate the highest level of commitment to the rule of law and the demands of the electoral process.
“At all cost, the 2015 elections must be free and fair. This means that any threat which may provide a cover for militarising the electoral process must be eliminated before the elections. Every part of Nigeria must participate in these elections, and no citizen should be deprived of his or her right to vote under any excuse,” the NEF said.
The statement further frowned on political developments in some states leading to the removal, threats or attempts to remove elected persons, saying that such actions were informed by partisan interests seeking advantages in 2015.
The forum warned that “these are dangerous antics which will deepen violence and other acts of desperation by politicians and called for the convening of a genuine summit of political leaders and parties with a view to creating consensus around the imperatives of security of the electoral process.
The forum, however commended Jonathan for the prompt action taken against profiling and other threatening actions against northerners in some states in the southern parts of the country.