Leaders of Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), and Middle Belt Forum (MBF), who met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja last week, over the state of the nation, have expressed disappointment over the way the Federal Government reacted to their meeting.
In a statement yesterday, spokesmen of the forum, Yinka Odumakin (Afenifere),Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed (NEF), Chief Guy Ikokwu (Ohanaeze), Senator Bassey Henshaw (PANDEF), and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (MBF) said that the Presidency’s reaction, in the manner it did to a responsible and credible initiative by the groups and a former president, was deeply disappointing and worrying.
Obasanjo had during the meeting criticised President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which he described as a failure, and also accused him of pushing the country to the precipice with some of his policies. The presidency reacted by calling the former president an agent of division.
“Our groups are not mouthpieces of President Obasanjo, and we will leave it to him to choose how he responds to the lamentable response of President Buhari to his initiative.
“For us, it is sufficient to say that we have no regrets or apologies to offer for making ourselves available to dialogue with each other, exchange ideas, and re-commit ourselves to pulling out the nation from the brink of the precipice of ‘no return’.
“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,” the spokesmen said.
The leaders added that they were even “more worried at this stage that a responsible and constructive effort to douse tensions, build bridges and restore hope in the potentials for the survival of our country as the democratic and united entity will attract the type of childish vitriol from the Presidency, including labeling us as terrorists.
“Clearly, our current leaders are living in very deep denial if they do not recognise that our current situation represents an existential danger to the nation.”