Samuel Luka, Bauchi
A Bauchi-based women group known as Bauchi Women Coalition for Sustainable Peace and Viable Democratic Gains has faulted the recent call for the suspension of Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and social Development Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq by some people who claimed to be Bauchi elders.
Addressing newsmen in the state yesterday, Fatima Abdullahi said the attention of the women group was drawn to a publication in an online Newspaper on Sunday.
She said that the story titled, “Bauchi Elders Forum Calls for suspension of Buhari’s Minister, Umar-Farouq” was perfected by an NGO and not elders of Bauchi state.
“Reading through the news item, one quickly discovers that the so-called Elders Forum as they were referred to in the piece is a wrong picture, because in the second paragraph, it reads “the call was made on Sunday by Yahaya Idris Sulaiman while addressing the Press on behalf of the Bauchi Elders Forum for Sustainable Development”, she said.
“An Elders forum for Sustainable Development? This clearly shows that this is an NGO, not an Elders forum that is representing the minds and thoughts of the elders of the people of Bauchi state”, the women group pointed out.
“We know our Elders and how they think. Our true elders would have called the Honorable minister to order in a roundtable discussion”, Hajiya Fatima said.
The women group while dismissing the claims as coming from a political group with clear political motives, said women in Bauchi state would continue to prove the assertions wrong.
“We believe that this is a group that was quickly concocted, as is the tradition around elections, so that its members (of like minds) will be dilly-dallying between political actors so that they don’t miss out of the “largesse” of the season”, the women said.
According to them, the title of the story suggesting that the so-called Elders Forum wants the Minister suspended from her office as Minster, emphasized in paragraph 10 that the activities of the Ministry and the Minister should be suspended for now until after the elections.
“This means that the call is to make the Minister and her Ministry to put on hold certain activities that they are engaging in right now”, she pointed out.
Hajiya Fatima lamented that, to ensure they drive their point home, the group made reference to the President, Muhammadu Buhari and even issued what seemed like threats to him.
The spokesperson said, “Part of the resolutions we arrived at is to remind Mr President of the roles we played in his election, the two terms he spent as President” then went ahead to level an allegation against Mr President, without prove, that “We felt that he should not pay us back by trying to impose someone upon people of the state as Governor”, Fatima added.
The women group accused those who called for the suspension of the minister of been sectional bigots by making issues out of the Minister’s state of origin.
“On the first issue the group raised above, we would like to only ask a question; “In Nigeria, does the constitution bestow on a woman, after getting married to a man from another state, indigene status of her husband’s home state? The group should try to find that out”, they said.
“On the second part, we frankly don’t understand how a group that purports to be an Elders forum of its people will be so myopic in it’s outlook to complain about the composition of Ministerial appointments of the same people whose interest it is expected to protect”, the women group further questioned.
The explained that “since all the three Ministers they referred to are indigenes of Bauchi state, so what is the problem here? Do they want the positions to be allocated to other states? Is that patriotism or the lack of it, or are they actually blinded by egocentrism or bigotry?
The women group described as baseless, assertions by callers for suspension of the minister that her Ministry is getting allocation from the Federal purse but using it on some sections of the state under the pretense of helping women and other vulnerable children.
”For us, this is an exoneration of the Honorable Minster, because the group did not say the funds have not been used judiciously, but there grouse is with it being used in “some sections” of the state”, Fatima said.
The women said if the group are truly an Elders forum, is that a problem, and if it is, why is it only now that they deem it fit to mention?
The best part of this whole rebuttal we save for last. The spokesperson for the so-called Elders Forum for Sustainable Development, when challenged by the Press “to justify the issues he raised”, he declared that though he is a member of the PDP, he was not “sponsored” by the PDP to raise the observation contained in the press conference but acting as a concerned citizen of Bauchi state”, Fatima said.
She said, “was he speaking on the platform of the PDP or of the Elders Forum for Sustainable Development? Who bankrolled the expenses for the press conference and the advertorials in the Nigerian Dailies and social media?
Fatima said for the spokesperson to inform newsmen that they are not alleging any misappropriation in the Ministry but in fairness, the activities should be suspended for now, is an indication that the press conference was mischievous, a futile exercise contrived to cause distraction, waste the time of the media.
The women group added that the press conference was also aimed at trying to confuse the reading public to gain the attention of the person who it was surreptitiously made for to look like an indictment on.