Northern leaders want census postponed, assent to Electoral Act
Northern Leaders of Thought (NLT) on Saturday called for postponement of the planned 2022 census due to its proximity to the 2023 general elections, while urging President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act.
Speaking in a communiqué issued after a one-day meeting at Arewa House to coincide with the death anniversary of Northern Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and other Northern leaders, the NLT lamented the spate of insecurity in the North and parlous state of economy, which it said has caused untold hardship among its people and served as security threat, while calling for welfare scheme to alleviate poverty among the people.
The communiqué that was signed by the Chairman Communiqué Drafting Committee, Prof. Duncan Sheni, noted that all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic or origin should be able to vote and be voted for.
It also urged government to protect all schools and rescue school children currently in the captivity of bandits, while urging government to improve the security and state of economy in the country.
The NLT also preached tolerance and peaceful relationship among Nigerians.
“The meeting advises the Federal Government to postpone the planned 2022 National Census in view of the large numbers of displaced Nigerians and the proximity of the census to the 2023 elections. The meeting urges the national and states assemblies to prioritize constitutional amendments currently being processed. It urges President Muhammadu Buhari to accent to the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act, as this will improve the quality of elections, starting from 2023.
“The current state of insecurity in the North is unprecedented and unacceptable. While commending the efforts of the nation’s security forces in rolling back sundry threats that have weakened the Nigerian state and made life almost valueless, the meeting advises President Muhammadu Buhari, governors and legislators to re-prioritize spending on security and addressing the scourge of poverty. We recommend the increase in recruitment of security personnel.
“Northerners have equal rights to aspire to all offices but they must raise competence, evidence of personal integrity and commitments to the rule of law above all other considerations. Northerners should ignore provocative statements from groups in the South of Nigeria. North should vote for the best leader.
“The meeting notes the desperate condition of economic existence of most Northerners, poses additional threats to security and the democratic process. It recommends that leaders should avoid pushing the population into deeper poverty and desperation with challenging economic policies and lack of empathy. Government at all levels should consider a form of structured welfare system to alleviate poverty in the populace.
“The Meeting recognized that education in the region has never been more imperiled than now. Insecurity has exponentially increased the number of out of school children. School abductions closures and excruciating poverty have set back education in the region many generations. The Meeting calls on the state and Federal Governments to protect all our schools and rescue all our children in the hand of Bandits, and insurgents.
“The meeting recommends the need to have a working partnership with government agencies and other non-government organs to restore and re-instate the traumatized and displaced communities (IDP) to their villages as we initiate trauma healing sessions for them as well as de-radicalization programmes targeting the youths in the affected areas.
“The Meeting notes the wide spread insecurity, poverty and discontent with the leadership has resulted in serious voter apathy that is unhelpful to our fragile democracy. It calls on all Nigerians particularly the youth not to despair but to register to vote for a leadership that can change the fortunes of Nigeria,” it said.