The Northern Elders Forum might have become the first casualty of the division in northern Nigeria over the handling of herdsmen violence. It is up against its Chairman, Chief Paul Unongo for saying that presidential aspirant Atiku Abubakar is the chief financier of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, an allegation Atiku Abubakar has since denied. Not only did Atiku deny being financier, he said in his statement he has not even been a member of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.
Linking Chief Unongo’s position to gratitude to those who gave him his recent appointment as Chairman, Governing Board of Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Atiku said he has never discussed about the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria with Chief Paul Unongo.
In a sharp reaction to Chief Unongo’s statement, the Northern Elders Forum of which Unongo is the Chairman after the death of Alhaji Maitama Sule, the pioneer leader last year, the forum regrets it had to publicly disown yet another controversy by Unongo in recent times. While granting Chief Unongo the right to hold and express personal views against any issue, Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura, Unongo’s deputy who signed the statement explains that such right did not include dragging “the entire Forum into unnecessary controversies at will”. He, therefore, advised Chief Unongo to vent whatever grudges he has against any personality or group in his personal capacity rather than the platform of the Forum.
Condemning what it calls the unnecessary killings in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and Kogi states and indeed other parts of the north and the country generally but without blaming any person or group, the Northern Elders Forum denies ever having offered President Muhammadu Buhari any advice as asserted by Chief Unongo, much less for such advice to have gone unheeded. According to the statement, the Forum has never been as controversial in its approach to issues or ever committed itself on anything as it is today.