Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara state, has described the protests against the medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari in London, UK, as an attack on the north.In March, the president left Nigeria for London for a medical check-up.Buhari’s trip to the UK for medical reasons has been an annual ritual since he became president in 2015.
Some Nigerians had protested against the president’s stay in London while doctors are on strike in Nigeria.In a statement issued on Thursday, Matawalle described the protests as ”sponsored” and their organisers ”uncivilised”. He also warned against the attack on northerners and their businesses in the south.
Below is the statement in full.
-ENOUGH OF THE ATTACKS ON NORTHERNERS AND THEIR ECONOMIC INTERESTS-GOV MATAWALLE
-WHY WE MUST ALL CONDEMN THE SPONSORED ATTEMPT TO RUBBISH PRESIDENT BUHARI IN LONDON
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.
So much is happening to the North and to Northerners as individuals. Today, their lives, dignity and possessions are being threatened by the increasingly unfriendly South even as we try, as Northern leaders, to always calm the situation and to protect the interest, businesses and dignity of all Southerners living in 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.
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.
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.
Last Sunday’s killings 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.
Sadly, we all can identify the thugs, the instigators of such xenophobic attacks. They are very much known and audacious in spreading their messages of hatred, incitement and provocation but unfortunately they and their leaders have continued to blackmail the federal government while government seems to be succumbing to such acts of blackmail, allowing them to live like kings and even bluntly refusing legitimate invitation by the Police.
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 leave the country. We will not tolerate any form of intimidation any longer.
Even though I am a PDP Governor serving my first term in office, I don’t believe seeking for position of authority or seeking to retain it is a do or die affair or something that will silence us to ignore reality and not to stand by our people in the face of constant provocation and attacks.
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.
This is certainly NOT the way to express dissatisfaction but an act of humiliation and hatred consistent with the southern agenda as the promoters and sponsors are well known and are only looking for opportunities and slightest excuse(s). Responsible and civilised protest should address only issues but reducing such sponsored protests to abusing the President, his family or parents as we have seen in London is most unfortunate, uncivilized and condemnable.
I am sure they wouldn’t have done that for Buhari if he is from the South as we have seen severally on matters of their interest and agenda. 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.
We MUST not be ashamed to defend our people and protect our interests the manner they are doing. But in doing so we must not be blind, like they often are, to overlook the shortcomings or the faults of our people whenever there is one. Nigeria is for all of us. Peace or preservation of peace MUST be reciprocal and in the absence of that we demand that we will no longer tolerate what has been happening to Northerners in different parts of the South over the last few months.
Alhaji Dr. Bello Mohammed,