NEF: HURIWA defends Matawalle against criticisms over his support for Tinubu

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*Photo: Dr Bello Mohammed Matawalle*

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has stepped forward to defend the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, amidst a wave of criticism following his recent remarks concerning the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

At a press conference organized by HURIWA in Abuja on Thursday, the civil rights advocacy group expressed concern that Matawalle’s comments sparked controversy after he advocated for steadfast support for President Tinubu’s administration, particularly from appointees from the Northern region.

HURIWA highlighted that in his statement, Matawalle emphasized the imperative of collective solidarity and unwavering loyalty to the government’s initiatives aimed at advancing the nation’s interests.

“Minister Matawalle, in a press statement released on Monday, April 15, 2024, emphasized the importance of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s appointees from the North taking a stand and showing unequivocal support for the administration. He highlighted that every appointee must promote and defend the government against unjust attacks.

“In reaction to Matawalle’s comments, former senator, Kabiru Marafa demanded an apology, urging the Minister to withdraw his statement, which he (Marafa) described as portraying the NEF as a “burden” and “paperweights”. Marafa argued that Matawalle’s remarks were not reflective of President Tinubu’s position, emphasizing Tinubu’s high regard for Northerners and their leaders”.

However, speaking at the press conference, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, deemed Matawalle’s stance as not only justified but also necessary for the continuity of developmental efforts initiated by the current administration. Onwubiko vehemently rejected attempts to misconstrue Matawalle’s remarks as divisive or inappropriate, asserting that Matawalle’s call for public solidarity with President Tinubu’s administration is both genuine and essential.

The  human rights group further highlighted the significant contributions made by President Tinubu in appointing individuals from the Northern region to key positions in his government. They emphasized that Matawalle’s advocacy for collective support is a testament to his loyalty to the administration that appointed him.

The Association referenced the recent remarks made by the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, regarding President Tinubu’s deliberate appointment of Northerners into key positions as a commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the North, indicating a genuine concern for the region’s welfare. They dismissed the attacks against Matawalle as disguised attempts to undermine the achievements of President Tinubu’s government and urged Nigerians to focus on the collective progress of the nation.

“It is imperative to highlight the key facts noted by the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, regarding President Tinubu’s deliberate appointment of Northerners into key positions. Ribadu’s remarks, delivered during a lecture as part of the activities marking the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st combined convocation of Usmanu Danfordiyo University, Sokoto, underscore President Tinubu’s commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the North, ranging from insecurity to poverty.

“President Tinubu’s strategic appointments reflect his determination to ensure that these issues are squarely addressed, demonstrating his genuine concern for the welfare of the region and the nation as a whole.

“Hence, Minister Matawalle’s call for public solidarity with President Tinubu’s administration is not only commendable but also a genuine advocacy for collective support, extending beyond Northerners in government to all individuals entrusted with national responsibilities by President Tinubu. Those who oppose Minister Matawalle’s clear-headed call for 100% loyalty to President Tinubu’s government are, in essence, political adversaries of the President, hiding their disloyalty under the guise of attacking Matawalle,” HURIWA argued.

Despite the recent criticisms, HURIWA encouraged Minister Matawalle to continue boldly speaking out in support of President Tinubu’s administration, urging all Northerners entrusted with national responsibilities by President Tinubu to heed the call for unity and solidarity. The organization also urged President Tinubu to take note of the coordinated attacks against his Minister of State for Defence and to remain steadfast in advancing the agenda of his administration.

The group concluded by emphasizing the need for all appointed officials, particularly those from the Northern Region, to stand firm in their support for President Tinubu’s government and its developmental initiatives.

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