A group of Northern elders have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for finally taking action by sacking the nation’s service chiefs and appointing new ones in their stead.
They, however, condemned the president for excluding South East from the appointments, saying the president’s action against the Igbo nation was inimical to the unity and one-Nigeria project of Nigeria’s founding fathers.
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The elders, under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), urged the president to balance the equation by reviewing the appointments to reflect the nation’s federal character principle.
The elders, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja and signed by their National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni, also urged President Buhari to review the appointment of the military heads to reflect fairness and equity.
The group, which had relentlessly clamoured for the sack of the service chiefs over worsening insecurity in the country and perceived low morale in the military following tenure elongation of the former security heads, thanked President Buhari for eventually taking action by relieving them.
“We completely throw our weight behind Ohanaeze Ndigbo on their position over the appointments of the new service chiefs.
“We appeal to Mr President for a review of the appointments to accommodate our Igbo brothers from the South East in line with the federal character principle of the country,” they said.
They added that the sacking of the former service chiefs by Mr President and the reaction of Nigerians showed that the president listened to the clarion call by Nigerians to that effect.
“However, the composition of the service chiefs greeted us with mixed feelings and sincere concerns.
“We strongly believe that the list does not meet a fair list as it is lacking in fairness, justice, and equity to the south easterners.
“We thought some lessons would have been learnt by the Presidency by now that the Igbos too, are also Nigerians and deserve to be fairly and godly treated.
“How can there be the appointment of two sets of service chiefs without any Igbo person among them?
“Our careful checks revealed that Igbos have senior and qualified military officers in the Navy, Army, and Airforce who are serving faithfully in their various capacities.
“We have seen how the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and several Igbo groups are fighting Nnamdi Kanu and his group, the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on a daily basis because they believe and act one Nigeria,” they insisted.
They, therefore, urged the President to have a retrospection over this his latest appointments and do the needful by appointing a service chief from the South-east.
No religious prejudice, partisanship in our decisions
Meanwhile, President Buhari, while speaking on Thursday when the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, paid him a courtesy call, said his administration’s decisions and policies were not being influenced by religious prejudice or partisanship.
Buhari said: “It is self-evident that if the country must work, we must continue to work together in spite of our ethnic, religious and political differences because Nigeria is our collective project.
“Accordingly, the Federal Government under my leadership does not and will not allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies.
“It is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society,” he added in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.