The Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) has berated the statement by Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
Baba-Ahmed while addressing students at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, on Saturday, said, “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before; whether we are president or vice-president, we will lead Nigeria.
“We have the majority of the votes and the democracy says vote whom you want. Why should we accept a second class position when we know we can buy forms and contests for first class and we will win?
“Why does anybody need to threaten us and intimidate us? We will get that power, but be humble because power comes from God. We inherited leadership, being honest is not being stupid.”
The group in a statement on Monday by Rwang Pam, its spokesman, described the statement as reckless, careless and insensitive.
SaMBA stated that the era of ”one north” is in the past, stressing that NEF should look for ways to turn its numerical strength to productivity.
The statement read: “Let Dr Baba-Ahmed be reminded that without the Middle Belt, such numbers boasted about in the North is mere political posturing.
“It is disheartening that Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed will make such reckless and careless statement at a time when we are still battling to keep the country united.
“One would have expected that the retired permanent secretary with his exposure and academic prowess will choose his words carefully, but it is quite unfortunate that NEF will talk recklessly.
“It is certain that some liberal minded people in the North will be shedding secret tears as a result of the statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), because it is based on a delusion of a ‘one north’ that has treated the middle belt region as second class citizens.
“The so called ‘north” cannot boast of numerical strength to win election without reckoning with the strength of the middle belt and other northern Christians that have decided to work with their southern Nigeria counterparts to produce fresh and effective leaders for the country.
“Rather than boasting of numerical strength to win election, NEF should look for ways to turn the numerical strength to productivity. Nigeria is presently rated as the poverty headquarters of the world because of poor standards of living in the region under the present leadership.”