The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) yesterday accused former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of doublespeaking on the unity of the country.The group was reacting to a news report of Monday, August 11, 2019, captioned ‘‘Let’s work for growth, not separation,’’ purportedly attributed to Tinubu.
“We find it ridiculous that he still thinks he can get away with this latest rap on national growth after having stood against it for quite long,” the CNG said in a statement by spokesman, Abdulazeez Suleiman.
The statement reads: “As we join the general uproar and condemnation that trailed the statement by Tinubu, we wish to ask him to sincerely answer the following simple questions: “Tinubu should explain the absence of his sense of cohesion when, in 2015, the Oba of Lagos, whose affinity to Tinubu is no secret, ordered that all Igbo must vote Tinubu’s APC or leave the state.
“Tinubu’s concern for national growth was certainly missing at the inception of this administration when he vehemently stood against the formation of an inclusive government against the advice of the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum for Buhari to appoint an Igbo as Secretary to the Federal Government.
“We are aware that Tinubu solely misled President Buhari against that patriotic advice by insisting that the Igbo did not vote him and that it was not safe for another Igbo to succeed the office which was immediately vacated by a kinsman.“He made the president appoint his stooge, Babachir Lawal, who turned out to be a national disgrace. This much was confirmed by Lawal himself when he said he owed his appointment to Tinubu and to some extent, Bisi Akande. And after the scandalous fall of Lawal, Tinubu again prevailed against an Igbo successor and imposed another stooge, Boss Mustapha.
“Tinubu should explain where his conscience for nationhood was during the February 2019 elections when after disenfranchising the Igbo community in Lagos, militant OPC youth, backed by leaders of the southwest, violently attacked Igbo communities and their businesses. “He should explain his democratic claims and desire for growth in relation to his unilateral insistence on denying a sitting Governor Ambode of Lagos State the right to seek re-election in 2019.
“This he did despite personal efforts by President Buhari to show him that Ambode was a performing, hardworking governor. The president even sent a committee of seven governors picked across states to persuade Tinubu but he stood his ground merely for his personal interest.”
The statement continues: “Tinubu’s sense of nationalism also came to question with his silence at the time his people in the southwest deployed every unconventional means to fight the presidency, the entire Fulani, and the larger north over the RUGA initiative of the Federal Government.
“His concern for national integration must have gone to sleep when Afenifere, an organisation he nourishes, ordered the Fulani out of the southwest, and when Gani Adams threatened to mobilise 2 million Yoruba warriors against the Fulani in the southwest.“Where was Tinubu’s sense of patriotism when his stooge, Omoyele Sowore, recently masterminded and actually called for a violent protest with the ultimate aim of overthrowing a democratically elected government in which he, Tinubu, is singularly the major beneficiary?
“How does Tinubu explain his conspiratorial silence when Wole Soyinka, Falana, and other rabble-rousers on his payroll openly supported and backed the mastermind of the overthrow attempt?“Lastly, we task Tinubu to justify his claim to nationalism and growth against the four-year protracted war he waged against Bukola Saraki and Amaechi, simply because they opposed the emergence of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the buildup to the 2015 elections.
“In conclusion, we categorically state that unless and until Tinubu is able to satisfactorily provide answers to these questions, no Nigerian, certainly no northerner would take his call for focus on national growth seriously. “We finally call Tinubu’s attention to the new reality that though he might have succeeded in fooling some Nigerians sometimes in the past, he should not expect that he can fool anybody anymore.”
But the factional chairman of Lagos APC, Mr. Fouad Oki, dismissed the accusations, wondering when a northern group became the mouthpiece for Igbo.He told The Guardian: “If they want to attack Tinubu, their allegations must be verifiable. In the first place, the group should ask northern leaders in APC or if possible, the presidency, how Lawal was appointed as SGF. They should also find out which of the northern elites does not have business or other relationship with Tinubu.
“Perhaps they forgot that the current director general of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, an Igbo man from the southeast, served under Tinubu for eight years as Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, just as Mr. Joe Igbokwe, who is also an Igbo man served as Lagos APC publicity secretary and is now a commissioner-designate under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the instance of the national leader. There are numerous Igbo people that have deep political affinities with Tinubu like Pat Utomi, Senator Godswill Akpabio and others.”
He said further: “All the stories about Tinubu’s 2023 presidential ambition are based on assumption, and unfortunately they are indirectly promoting him. The national leader has not come out to declare his intention to contest for the presidency, just as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to give the go-ahead to anybody, group of people or political party to start a campaign in the country.”
On the alleged attack on Igbo during the last general election and directive that Igbo must leave Lagos if they failed to vote for APC in 2015, Oki said: “These are mere mundane stories and unnecessary sentiments. Is CNG aware that in 2015 and 2019, the same Tinubu had a series of meetings with Igbo representatives in Lagos before, during, and after the elections?
“Suleiman and his people must realise that anything can happen as far as politics is concerned. And in any case, would they also say that it was Tinubu who instigated the October 1 2017 ultimatum that Igbo should leave the north?”Asked to comment, Tinubu’s media adviser, Mr. Tunde Rahman, laughed off the matter, saying, “I need to read the statement before reacting.” [THE GUARDIAN]