The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) is set to meet with Ohanaeze, Afenifere, and South-South as part of efforts to sanitise the fragile peace bedevilling the country.
This was even as it commended the South-East leaders for disowning the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network.
While assuring them of Igbo’s protection in the North, the Forum called on the South-East leaders to stop their people from harassing and killing the ordinary Northerners plying their trade in their region.
The communique which was read by the national chairman of ACF, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Thursday noted that from reports reaching them, ordinary citizens who are earning their daily life are being attacked.
“We hope these ordinary Northerners are given the same protection we have given the South-Easterners in our midst. The Forum also commended two Northern governors, Senator Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and Professor Umara Zulum of Borno as state chief executives who have demonstrated unusual courage in their fight against terrorism in their states and urged other governors in the North to demonstrate similar bravery in the fight against insecurity that is ruining everything that he North has always stood for.
The forum also praised the gallantry of our fighting forces who against all odds have continued to risk their own lives in the fight against banditry and insurgencies. The Forum expressed satisfaction with the recent stand of the South-East leaders and Governors on the violent agitation for secession from Nigeria by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network.
“The forum expressed satisfaction that the Igbo elders have finally disowned the agitators and called on the elders to take concrete measures to ensure that such agitations come to an end.
“The ACF notes that the South-East Leaders called on Northern leaders to protect their indigenes who are living in the North. We wish to assure them that all Igbos who are living in the North are guaranteed their personal security; sometimes they enjoy a security which even Northerners do not enjoy.
“On the other hand, we have received reports on a daily basis of Northerners, ordinary citizens who are earning their daily life as nail cutters, suya makers, shoe shiners, onion sellers, are being bullied, beaten and even killed.
“We hope these ordinary Northerners are given the same protection we have given the South-Easterners in our midst. In the very near future, the Forum hopes to meet with leaders of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Afenifere and South-South leaders to discuss the lingering issues in the country that have tended to pitch ethnic and regional groups against each other,” he said.
On the economy, the forum regretted the high rates of interest charged on bank loans in the country, saying, the interest charged by banks on commercial loans are so high that instead of promoting business, they are killing all indigenous business enterprises.
“No business can function in Nigeria or anywhere without a friendly environment of loaning from banks. We call on the government to intervene because the collapse of business has direct links with unemployment and insecurity.
“ACF wants to commend the Federal Government for the effort it is making to improve the state of the infrastructure in the country. The fact, however, remains that the northern part of the country, with the largest proportion of land (over 75%) and the highest number of population is definitely not getting its fair share of the new infrastructure being developed
“The forum is not happy with the scant attention paid to Animal Husbandry by States and Federal Government in the country. Animal Husbandry alone accounts for 6% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Nigeria spends $1.6 on importation of milk alone. If animal husbandry is well harnessed it will save Nigeria, this large expenditure.
“Many Nigerians are not aware that those involved in the business of animal husbandry are themselves victims of insecurity; their cattle are often rustled and they are kidnapped for ransom too. There is a need to encourage alternative means of dispute resolution as those involved in farmers/herdsmen clashes are rural illiterates who sometimes are not comfortable with the police and the modern court system but would prefer a traditional way of resolving issues.
“Also the forum noted that the third tier of government, that is the local government, is not allowed to work and the failure is having a devastating effort on the security architecture of the country.
“They must be allowed to work and ACF calls strongly on the Federal Government and the state government to allow the local government to perform the roles and functions they were constitutionally created to perform,” the forum stated.