Northern governors and elders in the region met Monday night to fashion out ways of deescalating ethnic tensions growing across the country following crisis in the South West, especially the Shasha crisis in Ibadan,Oyo State.
The northern governors were led by their chairman and governor of Plateau State,Barr. Simon Lalong while to the elders under the aegis of Northern Elders Forum,were led by the forum’s chairman,Prof. Abdullahi Ango.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting that lasted for about four hours, Governor Simon Lalong explained that the meeting was at the instance of ethnic crises in the southern part of the country especially in the South West,occasioned by quite notices and Shasha crisis in Oyo State.
According to him,the meeting was aimed at exploring avenues with a view to calming down frayed nerves thus de-escalating tension that could arise from the developments.
Explaining the essence of the meeting with the Northern elders, Lalong said:”This is a delegation of Northern elders led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi. It is part of our engagements since we have these quit notices here and there and then the problems in the country. “
He continued:”As Northern governors,we have to engage some of our leaders and to find ways of calming nerves.
“Today,we just came back from Kaduna after the North West meeting with security organisations. We just had a fruitful discussion with the Northern elders this evening and part of the meeting was to find ways of calming the nerves and also assuring our northern brothers that measures are being taken.
“We don’t want to talk about asking people to go away but when you have issues like these,you look at the way forward, very mature way forward and that was what we discussed and then also,to address some of the issues,the problem that is expected on the side of government,both federal and state governments in the North.”
According to him,”The bottom line is to find a way forward-to make progress in the North end also in Nigeria.”
” As I’m talking to you now,after our meeting in Kaduna,our governors sent a delegation to go to Oyo and they are right now in Ibadan to assess the situation there and see the truth about what is really happening to Northerners in the South West and then bring back report,”he said.
He said the meeting would be carried forward as it had not concluded its agenda.
Hear him:”We are carrying the meeting forward,we have not finished. This is part of our deliberations,what we have here will be sent back to the Northern governors,what we have here is a representative of Northern governors.
” So, we are going to report back to the full house,that is the northern governors for full deliberation. As you can see, tensions are everywhere. So we are trying to calm nerves and also to find progress where there are grievances here and there,we can allay the fears and also help in solving some of those grievances.”
Also speaking, Publicity Secretary of Northern Elders Forum,Alhaji Hakeem Baba Ahmed, explained that the forum met with the Northern governors to find out areas the two bodies can come together to find solutions to the growing tensions arising from ethnic crises in the South.
He said:”We are here to meet with the Northern Governors Forum because they are our first point of call,they are our governors as northerners. Wherever we go on any issue we need to meet with them.
“We came to lay down our complaint as northerners,we came to show them our support in some of the initiatives they have taken,we came to seek their assurances as we are vigilant and to be assured that they are on their toes to protect our interest as northerners and to urge them to collaborate with their colleagues to deescalate the tension and to protect every Nigerian and we are very happy about what they have told.”
Ahmed added:”We urge northerners not to take the law into their hands,they should exercise restraint, maturity and responsibility.”
He, however warned:”We are asking Nigerians from the Southern part of the country to desist from acts that could provoke other Nigerians.
“We believe that every Nigerian owe a duty to be responsible and to recognize the fact that this is one country.
“We have people all over the place,the last thing we want in the North is to see any attack on anybody from outside the region and we want Northerners in other parts of the country to be treated equally.”
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