By Ayo Kehinde
Northern political elite under the aegis of the Northern Elders and Stakeholders Conversation converged on Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory on Saturday and brainstormed on the political direction of the region as part of permutations for the 2019 general polls. The meeting was convened by the trio of Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu and Senator Paul Zannan.
They expressed the non involvement of the region in the choice and emergence of democratically elected presidents such as President Muhammadu Buhari and the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, vowing to resist what they considered as outside forces whose interests were always paramount over and above that of the north in particular and the country in general in the choice of such candidates.
Convened under the Chairmanship of Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, leader of the Northern Elders Forum, NEP, the meeting took time to itemise and discuss some of the current social, economic and leadership challenges plaguing the region.
To them, many of the current set of governors were unfair, iniquitous and nepotistic in their conduct of government business with its attendant negative impact on the social and economic development of the region.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr Mohammed, stressed the need for the region to reach out to others geo-political zones in the country to ensure that the leadership that would emerge in 2019 would be pan Nigerian in vision and mission.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the maiden meeting of the group and signed by former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, the group called on the governors to; “Pay attention to good leadership and discontinue with recruitment of half-baked or non-educated people in leadership spectrum.
“People should be trained to take up leadership and put a stop to capacity challenges; let us be strategic in thinking affectively.
“The lingering insecurity, poverty, education in the region are serious challenges confronting the region. There is an urgent need to examine the causes of conflict among Northerners and suggest practical ways and means of attaining functional unity.”
The communiqué said that the stakeholders agreed that the forum should continue as a non-partisan, non-ethnic, non-religious but political conversation for viable resolutions in the polity while it recommended that the conversation be established as a standing forum for the Northern Region to be known as Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF).
It said that five sub-committees were set up to address the various issues challenging the Northern Region.
The meeting has approved the holding of a Northern Political Submit on March 15 to commemorate the attainment of self-government by the Northern Region in 1959.
The meeting attracted former governor of Bauchi State and former PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Senator Bala Mande and Senator Solomon Ewuga.
Others are a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi; former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa; Alhaji Bala Mohammed and prominent lawyer, Prof. Awwal Yadudu.