Marafa Hits Matawalle for Calling Northern Elders Lightweight Politicians

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*Asks minister to tender unreserved apology

Chuks Okocha and Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

A founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and coordinator of the Tinubu/Shettima 2023 Presidential Campaign in Zamfara State, Senator Kabiru Marafa, has countered the Minister of State for Defence, Mr Bello Matawalle, over his alleged offensive remarks on members of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
Marafa, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, argued  that Northern elders were  neither a burden nor paperweights whatsoever, as alleged by Matawalle.
The Defence Minister had, in a statement with the title, ‘Tinubu Presidency: Northern Elders Forum, a political burden to the North, they do not speak for the region’, described the northern elders as ‘paperweights and a burden’.

However, Marafa said rather than negatively portray the northern elders, Matawalle should have listed the achievements, programmes and policies, projects of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the North and the country as a whole in the first 10 months of his administration.

He said calling the elders of the region, which had and gave the highest number of votes to ensure victory for the Tinubu presidency, was counterproductive.
Marafa alleged that Matawalle’s statement was and a great disservice to the president, who is working tirelessly towards addressing the numerous challenges facing all segments and sectors of the country, among them terrorism, insurgency, economic and financial malfeasance and infrastructural decay, to list a few.
At the moment, Marafa insisted that what President Tinubu needed from his appointees was support, loyalty and hard work to actualise  the Renewed Hope agenda conceived to return the country to the path of progress and prosperity, not sycophancy and unguarded statements.

Marafa, who represented Zamfara Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2019, called on the minister to withdraw the offensive statement and tender, without delay, an unreserved apology to the Northern elders and Northerners in general.
“In the last one week, I have been inundated with calls from well-meaning and prominent stakeholders in our region and party, the APC, who know my relationship with the President.

“They are worried and disturbed that the unfortunate statement by the Minister of State for Defence, if not addressed, could affect the president’s electoral fortunes in our region because it will be seen as if the minister spoke the mind of the president or the presidency.
“The crux of the matter is that, whether you like them or not, these people are called Northern Elders. So, unless they are stripped of that title by the people of the region, insulting them is tantamount  to insulting the entire people of the region.

“It’s not in our culture and upbringing to insult elders. No descent society will refer to its elders as a burden and paperweights. The North is not an exception.
“Although I’m not the mouthpiece of either the president or the Presidency, as a Northerner and an elder in the region, as an APC stakeholder and one that has worked closely with both the president and the Vice President, I want to state categorically that this view expressed by Mr Matawalle is his personal opinion and not in any way that of Mr President or the presidency, and should, therefore, be disregarded.”

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