The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) says separatist agitators are capitalising on weak and ineffective governance to attack the very foundation of the country’s existence.
NEF’s spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said this in a statement on Monday.
It said the wave of irredentism sweeping the nation was the brainchild of some politicians desperate to occupy the highest office in the land.
The statement said: “We have followed recent developments, events and utterances from many quarters, all of which suggest that our country is at a defining moment that will determine its fate and the security of all Nigerians for a long time to come.
“It appears that many groups and persons, who have public standing, political adventurers and upstarts believe that it is open season to intensify attacks on the foundations of our co-existence through acts that provoke, frighten or otherwise cast doubts over the capacities of those who have sworn to protect the nation and citizens.
“These groups’ activities suggest that they perceive a vacuum, which provides a perfect setting for questioning the legitimacy of the Nigerian state, its ability to fight against subversion and other acts of hostility and its commitment to uphold the rule of law.
“The only voices being heard are those which demand the balkanisation of the country, or encourage dangerous politics and other acts that pitch some communities against others.
“The disturbing silence from responsible Nigerians and the capitulation of hitherto influential groups to politics of the gutter is creating a dangerous space, which further erodes the chances that a rational approach to the triggers to these provocations can be found.
“The Northern Elders’ Forum recognises the historic opportunity for leaders, elders and other Nigerians who believe in acting responsibly to step up now and retrieve the country from imminent disaster.
“The forum restates its commitment to sit and discuss all the challenges facing the country with responsible groups and leaders.”