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The government hasn’t performed to our expectations – Northern Senators Forum

The Northern Senators Forum has rated the APC-led Federal Government low in terms of its performance since it came to power.

 

The chairman of the forum, Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central), said this in an interview aired on the BBC Hausa Service on Saturday.

The NSF Chairman explained that the fact that he is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not distract from his patriotic disposition as a Nigerian and representative of the people.

He said, “First of all, I want you to know that I am a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a representative of the people. Based on my opinion, the government hasn’t performed to our expectations.

“Things are getting worse compared to when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took the leadership of the country. People are going through a lot of difficulties. We live in villages.

“We are going there to interact with them, and they are lamenting seriously. They have nowhere to go, so they have no one to express their grievances to other than us.

“I think Bola Ahmed Tinubu didn’t even understand this country, and he didn’t understand the difficulties of ruling a country like Nigeria. Probably he has his own idea of what governance is, but I don’t blame him so much because when he was campaigning for the seat, there was no agreement or promise between him and the people.

“People were just blinded and voted for him because he supported former president Muhammadu Buhari when he was contesting. Some even voted for him because he is a Muslim; as such, he needed their vote on whether he could or could not do the right thing for the country.

“But the most painful thing is that Northerners stood for him and did all they could to bring him to power, but unfortunately, there was no agreement between them and the president on what should be done to the North and the Northerners.

“Especially taking into consideration the importance and significant projects that North has been yearning for and aspiring to get for a long. For example, the Ajaokuta project, the Mambila power project, the dredging of the Niger River, and other notable projects.

“What mostly disturbs my sleep is that we had a budget in 2013 and 2014 in which we earmarked billions of naira, but it was neglected by President Goodluck Jonathan. When President Buhari came, we thought it was one of the projects he would pay attention to, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for over eight years.

“Even road construction like Kano-Abuja is not yet completed, as if it were cursed by someone, despite the road being the soul of our travellers in the North.

“Indeed, we don’t attack the government as the opposition is supposed to do. But this is a result of the situation and the government we have. These so-called leaders they forced on us were not voted for by us.

“They brought religious issues and ethnic and tribal issues into the process; they used propaganda, saying that no Hausa/Fulani would be trusted to lead the opposition because there would be no peace.

“If you look at it from this scenario, the majority of those in opposition are from the Northeast and the Northwest, but we were not allowed to be the leaders of the opposition in the Senate.

“This is one of the reasons why we said we would go back and look at what is happening under the umbrella of the Northern Senators Forum, which is under my leadership.

“But you can’t do everything here because it involves members of the ruling and opposition parties. It is very difficult to challenge the ruling party under that umbrella once you want the unity of the North.“

The NSF Chairman alleged that the Forum’s consultants have uncovered N3trillion unexplained increase in the N28 trillion 2024 budget signed by President Bola Tinubu, adding that the unexplained increase, which was skewed against the north in particular and Nigeria in general, was unacceptable.

Ningi said, “For the past three months, we have engaged consultants to review the budget for us. We have some experts who are working on it line by line.

“We have seen the huge damage that was done not only to the north but to the entire country in that budget. We are supposed to sit with the Senate President to inform him about what we have observed.

“We want to show him what we have seen in the budget that is not acceptable; we will not accept them, and we don’t want the country to continue spending money on those things.

“Apart from what the National Assembly did on the floor, there was another budget that was done underground, which we didn’t know.

“The new things we have discovered in the budget were not known to us. We haven’t seen them in the budget that was debated and considered on the floor of the National Assembly.”

Speaking about discoveries made by the consultants engaged by the forum, Ningi said, “For example, it was said that there was a budget of N28 trillion, but what was passed was N25 trillion. So there is N3 trillion on top.

“Where are they? Where is it going? So, we need to know this. There are a lot of things. We are coming up with a report, and we will show the president himself and ask him if he is aware or not.

“This is what we intend to do. We are to meet the president. We will talk to him about the Mambila power project, Ajaokuta, and the River Niger dredging. We will talk to him about the Niger Republic. Recently, they said they would construct a dam; this is not good for us.

“The action taken by ECOWAS has affected the relationship between Nigeria and Niger. There was an agreement that they would not construct a dam so that the Kainji Dam would be intact, and we would give them electricity in return.

“Over one billion US dollars was spent on Mambila, the BBC has reported. Where is that money? Who collected the money? We need to know and see what can be done. This Mambila is like the future of the North. Every part of the country has its own symbol that will save it in the future.

“One of our weaknesses in the north is that we don’t love ourselves and our region so much that we don’t care about the future. We are just living anyhow. We just love the region in our mouths, not at heart, and I am seriously worried about that.”

The NSF Chairman also spoke about the recent decision by the Federal Government transfering some departments of federal agencies to Lagos.

Ningi said, “I will speak not as a member of the opposition but as a northerner. As a Northerner, I know that this is going to happen. We heard about it, and we saw several examples in the past that tell us that all this is possible.

“But as I speak, our people, especially the leaders, are yet to take any action to find the solution. That is why I am not even surprised.

“These things that are happening are of two categories. Some affect the North only, and some affect the entire country. What we are doing now as leaders of the Forum of Northerners is trying to address the problem or reduce its strength without allowing politics to come in.

“These security challenges are happening in the North. There is nowhere in the South where someone will be abducted and spend seven days in custody of the abductors.

“Look at Katsina, Zamfara, and Benue. I am even afraid that one day we will wake up and see that states like Zamfara have been taken away from the country. It is possible, going by what is happening.”

 

 

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