•‘We may retaliate against southerners’• ACF cautions against risky comments
Zamfara State Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle yesterday warned that the North might retaliate attacks on northerners in the south.
He urged Southern leaders to stop the attacks to prevent the extreme situation of North’s reprisal.
Matawalle spoke through a statement he personally signed on a day the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) warned leaders against utterances that inflame political, religious and ethnic passion in the country.
He said northerners’ lives, dignity and possessions are being threatened by the increasingly “unfriendly South”.
Matawalle said: “Recent happenings in the country have made it expedient for me, as a political leader and a proud Northerner, to issue this important statement.
“This is not the time to play politics or to play to the gallery, but a time to tell ourselves the real truth, for the benefit of peace and progress of our country, and to prevent the looming anarchy that some disgruntled, unpatriotic Nigerians want to drag the nation into.
”Considering the manner we play politics in Nigeria–politics without conscience–the public may expect a statement like this to come from a governor or a leader of the APC, but I choose to make the following statement even as I remain a proud member of the opposition PDP, for the sake of our nation; for peace to reign and in the overall interest of the North.
“Despite what Northerners are experiencing today in many parts of the South-West and South-East in particular, all we hear is the conspiracy of silence from Northern leaders and elites who are supposed to stand firm, in the manner in which other leaders of the South are doing even when they know that their people are at fault. This must not continue.”
Matawalle threatened reprisals from Northerners if they continued to be assaulted in the South.
He added: “As northern leaders, our dignified silence in the face of constant provocation and assault, because of our desire for peace, must not be taken as a sign of weakness.
“Indeed no community, or region has the monopoly of violence.
“ If Northerners and their means of livelihood will not be protected, accommodated and be dignified anywhere they choose to stay in any part of the South, Southerners should not expect protection from the North as the North has more than what it takes to respond to any kind of aggression and hatred. “
He said there was no justice for Northerners after the recent clash with some Yoruba traders in Shasha in Ibadan, Oyo State.
“We have seen the destruction, the killings and the devastation recently at Sasha Market against Northerners and their economic interests.
“Properties worth billions of Naira were lost in addition to human lives, yet some leaders in the South-West are downplaying the atrocities committed or, worst still, justifying it.
“Some of them have shamefully gone to the extent of apportioning blames on the victims and casualties of their aggression.”
He condemned alleged killing of Northerners in Imo State.
He said: “Last Sunday’s killingsm of innocent Northerners in Imo is one too many and no matter how we love peace, leaders with conscience and fear of God must speak out against this continued barbarism and hatred.” “We will not take that any longer as no human life is worthier than another.
“ No business interest is better than another. In fact, in crisis situation, the South has more to lose in terms of its business interests in the North and the strategic nature they established themselves in the North than Northerners living in the South.
“The North is very much aware of such weaknesses and disadvantages the South is exposed to whenever there is such crisis but we always choose the path of peace and cherish peace beyond any act of lawlessness and hatred.
“Simple statistics on instances of unprovoked attacks against Northerners and their economic interests in the South in recent times can tell who is more tolerant, accommodating and peaceful between criminal elements and their backers that are well known in sponsoring such hatred and attacks against Northerners in the South, and our own people.”
The governor said although those behind the assaults on Northerners can be identified, the Federal Government had been pandering to sentiments of sone Southern leaders by failing to take action.
Hecsaid:” Sadly, we all can identify the thugs, the instigators of such xenophobic attacks. They are very much known and audacious.
“Nigeria is one. Whoever doesn’t want to believe in the current constitution, which is so far the legal and legitimate instrument behind our existence, should wait to challenge it through established legal and legitimate means, or pack and leavd the country. We will not tolerate any form of intimidation any longer.
Governor Matawalle’s State, Zamfara, is buffeted by banditry. The Federal Government recently impose a no-fly zone order on the state among other measures to bring down banditry there.
He also faulted the protest agaibst President Muhammadu Buhari in London.
“As a Northerner, I condemn in strongest term how in the same manner of hatred, President Muhammadu Buhari was treated by so-called protesters that could not hide their disdain and hatred for the North.
“Their action, no matter their grievances, is uncivilized, highly irresponsible, unpatriotic and disrespectful to the person and office of the President and has demonstrated the growing hatred against anything North.
“The real motive and agenda of the so-called protest is not for Nigeria but to humiliate the President that is why the number of the protesters, considering the large number of Nigerians living in London, is so negligible as they could be easily counted.
“ For the North to survive and defend its interests, our leaders must have the courage to always speak out against such aggression and to protect Northern interests, the way our contemporaries in the South often do, even when there is no justification to do so.”