Recent comments by Senate President , David Mark urging northern leaders to check the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect have drawn the ire of Northerners who accuse him of speaking as if he is not from the region.In particular,two northern groups have issued a statement slamming the views expressed by Mark during the 2012 Senate Retreat in Uyo Akwa Ibo State.
The groups, Arewa Youth Development Foundation And The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum said in a joint press statement that they “ find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis”
They also challenged the senate president to name those he claimed are behind the sect. “We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.”
The groups accused Mark of doing nothing towards resolving the Boko Haram crisis. “It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders”, the groups said.
Read the full text of the joint press statement below:
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE AREWA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION AND THE AREWA YOUTH CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON SENATE PRESIDENT DAVID MARK’S STATEMENT ON NORTHERN ELDERS
1.We read with great concern reports attributed to the Senate President David Mark tending to blame the elders of the North for the perpetration and escalation of violence in the region.
2.We find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.
3.It is unfortunate that Mark, supposedly a public figure and people’s representative should publicly admit not being aware of the concerted efforts by the Northern Elders Forum that has cut across religious and tribal boundaries; the various meetings held by the Northern Governors Forum the northern traditional rulers and various coalitions of religious leaders.
4. It is discouraging for Mark to have publicly admitted or pretended not to know that the northern elders he now accuses, have in their effort recently visited and presented a comprehensive document advising President Jonathan on how to handle the security situation.
5. It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders.
6. We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.
7. Let Mark tell the world why his Senate deliberately ignored the various written calls made to it for intervention by calling for a public hearing on the matter particularly by youth groups.
8.Rather than heeding those calls, Mark’s Senate chose to pursue issues that involve money.
9. Let Mark tell the world if the northern elders have that power to restore peace beyond offering advice and calling for caution which they have been doing diligently though he pretends not to be aware of that.
10. And let Mark explain why his Senate could not initiate the steps that led to the present moves by the presidency towards changing the security arrangement while the House of Representatives did summon the President and security chiefs.
11. Indeed it is disrespectful for a son of the region in his position who has never visited any of the cities to console with victims of the violence to now attempt to blame its persistence on his own elders.
12.It is on record that Mark has never visited Maiduguri, Kano or Potiskum to console with families of the thousands of people slaughtered in the course of this violence but now finds the voice to criticise respected elders of the North.
13.More worrying is the part of Mark’s statement that tended to suggest that non-Muslims are the main target and primary victims of the attacks even after the Muslim community which has openly distanced itself from the actions, also happen to have recorded greater loss in terms of human and material casualty.
14.Even more insensitive is the manner in which Mark closed his eyes to universal fact that almost all those so far arrested in possession of explosives and dangerous arms; those arrested with the actual bombing or attempts to blow up the places of worship referred to by Mark, happen to be non-Muslims.
15.More dangerously divisive is that Mark, rather than making statements expected from leaders that could enhance religious harmony and understanding, chose to single out a certain religious group for pacification.
16.Finally, while we join other well-meaning Nigerians in condemning the violence and its perpetrators, we welcome the recent bold moves by President Jonathan to reposition the nation’s security structure, we caution the presidency to beware of the utterances of people like Mark who have clearly disconnected with the situation on ground.
17.We call on Mark to concentrate on cleaning the embarrassing scandals engulfing the Senate and stop diverting the nation with unintelligent accusations.
18.No diversionary tactic from Mark or anybody else can take the nation’s attention from the inadequacies of the Nigerian Senate with regards to sensitive national issues.
19. The nation knows that the Senate did not for instance take any action with regards to the vexed issue of fuel subsidy and that it was the Reps that even as much as showed concern.
20.We are convinced that most Senators are only using the Senate as a refuge to acquire immunity from investigations into their past commissions or omissions while in various positions of power.
21.Consequently we have resolved to launch an agitation for the scraping of the Nigerian Senate from the nation’s democratic structure as it only serves as a gateway for huge financial wastage while not performing its constitutional expectations.
1.NASTURA ASHIR SHERIFF for Arewa Youth Development Foundation
2.SHETTIMA YERIMA for Arewa Youth Consultative Forum