Third Force Forum (3FF)-The Coalition of Former Presidential Candidates and Aspirants in Nigeria – have issued a below Press Release that asked Southerners in Muhammadu Buhari’s Cabinet to Resign.
Adversity Introduces a Nation to Itself
It is with profound sadness that we the undersigned, former Presidential Candidates and Aspirants, under the auspices of the “Third Force Forum”, arose from an emergency meeting, in the week ending April 10, 2020, to address the below matters to all Nigerians:
Pursuant to the federal government’s lopsided distribution of COVID-19 palliative “Cash Transfers” across Nigeria, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, with a distribution formula of 83% to Northern Nigeria (NE, NW, NC), and 17% to Southern Nigeria (SW, SE, SS), as reported by the “International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)”, we hereby ask that cabinet members from the Southern states, serving in the current Cabinet resign honorably, or immediately disassociate themselves from the incumbent government; or on the contrary clearly admit complicity, with a policy that betrays massive inequity to Southern Nigeria.
We make this statement not because we are against our ordinary Northern brothers and sisters. We are aware that the North has in the past also produced fair-minded patriots, including General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; rather, we make this statement with a sober, but bold assessment of the inclinations of this current Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
Equal Productivity Should Provide for Equal Benefits
It is note-worthy that today, over 80% of both resource and tax-based revenues in Nigeria, are generated from the South, while over 80% of all sensitive political appointments are held by people from the Northwest & Northeast, thereby depriving the entire South the necessary input into critical policy decisions.
This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial arms of government, as well as the entire security apparatus, from the military, to customs, to maritime, and to the management of the State oil company (NNPC), have all been engineered into one corner, and are controlled by only persons from the North, to the detriment of a broad, diverse and inclusive policy framework.
The recent COVID-19 palliative formula response is proof-positive, and it essentially shows that the government has brazenly portrayed, that even under this adversity, that one half of Nigeria essentially works for, or is totally subjugated to the other half of Nigeria, even in the midst of a severe public health adversity.
He Who Holds a Man Down Stays Down
Many aspiring leaders of Nigeria, including many in this forum of recent presidential hopefuls, have given the current administration a fair-shake, and a benefit of the doubt, since 2015. Some even supported President Buhari in his initial quest for the presidency. However, what we will not do is to stay silent in the midst of profound and obvious governmental discrimination.
This current government under President Buhari cannot hold one region down, so that another region may arise, because “he who holds a man down stays down”. Therefore, the net effect of policies like these is that all of us will stay down, because one cannot rob Peter to pay Paul.
Show Us That an Elected President is In Charge
We will not excuse this matter on the grounds that perhaps, President Buhari is not aware of the formula for the distribution of the COVID-19 Cash Transfer scheme. For some time now, Nigerians have shared innuendoes that the kitchen cabinet of Aso Rock comprises of 3, or 4, or 5 “Unelected Officials”; and these people decide what happens in the entire country.
Therefore, with all due respects to the current government, let the record reflect that the 3, or, 4, or 5 persons that Nigerians believe make and execute policy, were not elected by the Nigerian people. President Muhammadu Buhari is the elected official that we hold accountable, and the buck stops with the President.
Again, we do not hold grudges against our brothers and sisters that reside in the northern part of this Republic, however, as the great Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King once opined, “it is not where people stand in moments of comfort that matter, rather it is where people stand in times of controversy and strife”.
Therefore, as future leaders of Nigeria, we have chosen to stand with all the people of Nigeria, including the North and the South, to ask that the “Cash Transfer” palliative for COVID-19, a Public Health adversity, be properly distributed to affected states across the entire country, including in the current epicenter of Lagos, and not just as a freebie across Northern Nigeria. On the contrary, let the cabinet members from the South resign immediately, to show that they are not complicit in this misguided matter.
Transferring all the resources accruing from one region of the country, to another region, will not make the transferee wealthy; rather, it will only make the transferee more dependent.
In conclusion, we hereby call for Southern members of the cabinet to resign, as a protest to the prevailing inequity and injustice.
We wash our hands off any calamity that may befall Nigeria, due to a callous disregard for equity and injustice, in the distribution of the common-wealth of this country, from one region to another region. The government should also seize this opportunity to address another looming injustice, in the form of the exclusion of Southeastern Nigeria from the proposed World Bank loan, which is being negotiated for parliamentary approval in Nigeria at this time.
Final Notable Points:
There is poverty in every corner of Nigeria, from Sokoto to Anambra; from Akwa Ibom to Bornu; from Lagos to Kano; and from Rivers to Bauchi. Any pretension that poverty does not exist all across Nigeria is to pander to mischief. The COVID-19 “Cash Transfer” must be distributed equitably to other regions.
Productivity breeds wealth, it is the responsibility of the 19 Northern Governors to pursue models of society empowerment, whether from Southern Nigeria or elsewhere. This is not the time to transfer the productive resource of one region to another. Effecting majority of this cash transfer to Northern Nigeria alone, at the expense of other states, will breed animosity that will be extremely difficult to overcome in the future. The private donors who contributed to the FG COVID-19 Fund did not mean for these funds to be distributed to the North alone, if they did, they would have stated it clearly during their donation.
Hon. Okey Samuel Mbonu
Dr. O. Favour Ayodele
Hon. Clement Jimbo
Hon. Evelyn Okere
On behalf of the Third Force Forum Contact: Charles Adeyinka Email: Charles.firstname.lastname@example.org