The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has rejected what it described as uninformed and misleading muddling of facts by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), under the guise of criticizing the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
It urged Nigerians to ignore the Forum which it called ‘a dead horse’.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Maduke, BMO said members of the NEF are in the habit of “pretentious activism, largely based on ignorance of the popular wishes of Nigerians, especially the Northerners it purports to represent, by speaking out of turn over serious national issues”.
The group was reacting to suggestions by the NEF that the payment of N20, 000 conditional cash transfer (CCT) to the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians, to cushion the economic effect of the partial lockdown against the spread of the Coronavirus was belittling the recipients.
“This is a demonstration of deep ignorance of the benefits the payments bring to the beneficiaries.
“The partial lockdown in the frontline States where the infections of COVID-19 occurred are aimed at stopping its spread and protecting the health and well-being of Nigerians against the virus. Lockdown and self-isolation are common measures recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for all countries where the disease reared its ugly head,” the BMO pointed out.
“Leaders of the NEF, like its spokesperson, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who was ranting against his own country on a foreign radio station, are as elitist as their fellow travellers in the leadership of similar moribund bodies across the nation. They are totally bereft of actionable ideas that can improve the welfare of Nigerians, especially the Northerners in these challenging times.
“To pretend that the sum of N20, 000 paid to the most needy was nothing, betrays their arrogance and lack of social and economic touch with the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians whose poverty President Muhammadu Buhari feels so much to the extent that his administration expanded the number of households in the CCT programme in 2016 with the view to minimising their pains”.
The BMO drew the attention of Nigerians to the fact that all the donations announced by individuals and corporate bodies did not involve any cash remittance to the coffers of the Federal Government. “Donors made it clear that the donations would be in the form of equipment and medicaments required to fight the virus, treat its victims and stop its further spread in the country.
“In addition to continuing and fast-tracking payments under the Conditional Cash Transfer, the Buhari-Administration is evolving a modality for delivering food vouchers to ‘holidaying’ school children in the Homegrown School Feeding Programme, has released 70, 000 tons of foodstuff for distribution to the most vulnerable citizens and is working with the National Assembly to authorize virement of N500 billion to tackle the COVIC-19 pandemic.
“It is surprising, if not disappointing, that the leaders of the NEF have chosen to ignore the N1.5 trillion funds the Central Bank of Nigeria is making available to real investors as an economic stimulus, and the fact that the United Nations has commended the federal government for its steadfastness in the mechanism it put in place to minimise the damage Coronovirus could do in Nigeria.”
The statement advised the NEF “to always do its homework properly before making utterances that expose its leadership as a collection of ignorant elders who are groping for relevance in the darkness.