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Southern Elders Slam Northern Senators Over Budget, Agency Relocation Criticism

Southern Elders Slam Northern Senators Over Budget, Agency Relocation Criticism

The Southern Nigeria Elders Solidarity Forum has slammed the Northern Senators Forum for criticising President Bola Tinubu over the 2024 national budget and the relocation of some federal agencies to Lagos. The elders said the senators’ comments were ill-conceived, unguarded, and divisive.

The Northern Senators Forum, comprising 58 lawmakers, issued a statement on Monday, accusing the president of unfair treatment of the North in the N28.7 trillion 2024 budget and approving the movement of some departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria and aviation agencies to Lagos.

The senators, led by their spokesperson, Senator Suleiman Kawu Summaila (NNPP Kano South), said the budget allocation and distribution were lopsided against the North and that the relocation of the agencies was unnecessary and unjustified.

However, the Southern Nigeria Elders Solidarity Forum, in a swift reaction, condemned the senators for their outbursts, saying they were capable of causing distractions in governance and creating unnecessary tension in the country. The forum’s spokesman, Emmanuel Silas, said the senators’ statement was strange and unfortunate, considering that they participated in scrutinising the budget when it was presented to the National Assembly.

Silas said the senators either did not study the budget well or ignored the genuine facts that necessitated the relocation of some departments of government to Lagos, which was aimed at administrative convenience. He said the president had been widely acknowledged as doing everything humanly possible to take the country to its place of destiny without negatively affecting any part of the country in whatever way.

He cautioned the senators against deliberate attempts to undermine the president’s efforts and to set regions against each other. He urged them to focus on their legislative duties and to support the president in delivering good governance to the people.

Similarly, the Northern Peace and Justice Initiative, a civil society group, also expressed its support for the president and dismissed the claims of the Northern Senators Forum as baseless and unfounded. The group’s president, Abdulkabir Farouk, said there was no evidence to suggest that the president had plans to marginalise or short-change any region of the country in the scheme of things.

Farouk advised the senators to channel their grievances in more mature and constructive ways, or to seek an audience with the president to discuss such matters, rather than engaging in activities that could be perceived as deliberate incitements or subversions.

He also called on the Coalition of Civil Society for Good Governance and Accountability, which had sued for peace among the Northern Senators, to continue to promote dialogue and understanding among the lawmakers and other stakeholders. He said the coalition had rightly pointed out that the Northern senators had benefited immensely from the National Assembly, with many of them holding key committee positions and nominating projects for their constituencies.

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