Leaders of Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ohaneze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Middle Belt Forum (MBF), that held a two-day meeting where ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo attacked President Muhammadu Buhari have insisted that Nigeria is on “the brink of the precipice of no return”.
The groups also defended Obasanjo, saying the Presidency’s reaction to the former president’s remark was “deeply disappointing and worrying.”
The regional group leaders re-echoed their displeasure on Monday, September 14 on the grounds that presidency officials pretended as if they were not aware of the meeting held at the instance of Obasanjo where important recommendations were made at resolving contentious issues threatening the unity of Nigeria.
A statement signed by spokesperson for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin on behalf of the group, expressed the socio-cultural groups concern; “a responsible and constructive effort to douse tensions, build bridges, and restore hope in the potentials for the survival of our country as a democratic and united entity will attract the type of childish vitriol from the Presidency, including labelling us as terrorists.”
Spokespersons for the other groups are Chief Guy Ikokwu, Senator Bassey Henshaw, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed and Dr. Isuwa Dogo.
They warned that the current situation represents an existential danger, adding that they had no regret or apologies “for making ourselves available to dialogue with each other, exchange ideas and re-commit ourselves to pulling our nation from the brink of the precipice of no return.”
The statement read; “To say that the Presidency chose to react in the manner, it did to a responsible and credible initiative by our groups and a former president is, to put it politely, deeply disappointing and worrying.
“The communiqué released at the end of our meeting, which we are confident is only the first of many is a loud testimony to our levels of responsibility and maturity. We have received countless commendations from many responsible Nigerians for supporting and participating in this initiative to make our country a democratic and united entity.
“We are alarmed at the insensitivity of the Presidency, which will rather demolish patriotic and responsible action than taking steps to address gaping holes in the manner it handles our national destiny, our security and our economy.”
Recall that Obasanjo had said Nigeria was drifting towards a failed and badly divided state under Buhari.
He made the statement during a closed-door Consultative Dialogue of Nigeria’s Socio-Cultural Political Organisations on the State of the Nation in Abuja.
“Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.
“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country,” the former president said in the speech he delivered at the meeting.