The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, SMBLF, has protested the participation of two serving governors from the Republic of Niger at President Muhammadu Buhari’s rally of the APC in Kano.
They expressed their disapproval yesterday in a joint statement by Yinka Odumakin, South West; Prof Chigozie Ogbu, South East; Senator Bassey Henshaw, South-South; and Dr Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt.
Recall that Issa Moussa and Zakiri Umar, governors of Zinder and Maradi regions (respectively) of neighbouring Niger republic , were sighted at the Kano presidential rally, fully attired in the garments and colours of the APC and taking photographs with President Muhammadu Buhari.
This action coming barely days to the Presidential election, the Southern and Middlebelt Leaders Forum said, validates the wholesale desperation of the APC to deploy every untoward scheme to impugn the integrity of the forthcoming election, in a macabre reenactment of some evil aspects of the 2015 election.
According to the group, “This is an affront to our national sovereignty and a gross abuse of diplomatic relations.
“For an administration which recently lampooned Western diplomatic powers and bodies for criticizing the unconstitutional purported suspension of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen from office, this is the height of duplicity and doublespeak.
“Never in our political history has our national security been so endangered in the name of politics and politicking, a situation which calls for immediate investigation by relevant security agencies. The National Intelligence Agency, NIA; the Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA and the Department of State Services, DSS, must move to interrogate this development and report their findings to us Nigerians whose best interests they swore to serve.
“In a country which has been in the vice grip of accentuated terrorism, herdsmen killings, banditry and kidnapping in parts of the country especially since the advent of the Buhari administration, the kind of unholy philandering between Buhari and foreign interests from regional neighbours suspected of complicity in our internal security challenges, calls for introspection and inquest.
“Only last year, President Buhari prioritized the construction of a rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger, at a time several aspects of our national infrastructure were and are still begging for attention. Maradi, the third largest city in Niger Republic and Zinder, are two prefectures in the country which are predominantly populated by Fulanis with consanguineal relationship with Daura emirate, Buhari’s birthplace.
“As military head of state in 1985, Buhari purportedly favoured Ide Oumarou, a diplomat from Niger, over and above Nigeria’s own Peter Onu, in the race for the position of Secretary-General of the African Union, AU, to underscore his consanguineous relationship and sentiments with and for the Nigerien Oumarou.
“We recall that during the 2015 general elections, there were reports of thousands of people, many of whom were underaged voters, crossing from Niger Republic, into Kano through our extremely porous borders to vote in Nigeria’s elections for a particular candidate. Unfortunately, the illegality was acquiesced to by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“In recent weeks, there have been recent reports of seamless human movements between our national neighbours, notably Chad and Niger, into parts of Nigeria of people in open top vehicles, to different parts of the country.
“The SMBLF calls for increased vigilance amongst all Nigerians, as we approach the critical last two weeks to the presidential election and draws the attention of the international community to the impairment of our territorial integrity and fragile national security, by the uncanny desperation of the Buhari-led APC to undermine the electoral process, even at the risk of exacerbating our already simmering political situation.
“Nigerians must collectively resist any plot to further imperil and destabilize the polity in a desperate bid by some to win the forthcoming election at all costs and by all means possible.”