Prominent northern stakeholders Saturday floated a new group- Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) – aimed at enabling the region to take its destiny in its hand ahead of next year’s elections, especially the presidential poll.
The group emerged at a meeting of Northern Elders and Stakeholders Conversation co-convened by a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Bello Mohammed; former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu; and Second Republic Senator Paul Wampana.
The move, according to sources, was the north’s direct response to the Olusegun Obasanjo-inspired Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) and its main goal is to have a big say in who rules Nigeria from May 2019.
Mohammed, speaking at the opening session said the forum was convened “after due consideration of the current political situation in the country”
He said: “From what is apparent in the political arena today, it is clear that the major political operators have agreed that in the forthcoming 2019 General Elections, it is the turn of the North to produce the president.
“And what we can see in the political arena is that most political operators have agreed that the political leadership of our country should be zoned to the North according to our Constitution with regards to zoning and rotation. But from what we have seen earlier, it has always been zoned to the North but the decision on what to do and who to be has never been a Northern decision.
“What we observed is that the same trend is starting now. We have seen all kinds of movements coming up. If you look at what is happening now and remember what happened when it was the time of the North to produce president, President Umaru Yar’Adua of blessed memory was produced but was he really a Northern choice? At the end of the day, Yar’Adua had mishap and lost his life in the process and somebody else was also chosen, his Vice President.
“We knew the struggle that went on when it was decided that the presidency should leave the North. It wasn’t the northerners who decided that the Presidency should leave the North. We had to follow the bandwagon.
“The same thing happened in 2015, the North voted for the northern candidate but the decision on who should be the candidate wasn’t a northern decision. What we want is that this time around; let us have the opportunity to come together so that whatever is decided for the North, it is the Northern leaders who decide it and then we get support from other regions.
“If we are able to do that, then we should be able to produce a leadership for this country that would be just, equitable and lead us to nation’s development which is eluding us. That is the reason why we are here. “
The meeting appointed Dr. Umar Ardo as NPLF’s Secretary and Commodore Isaac M Mankilik (rtd ) as Deputy Secretary.
It also raised five committees: 2019 Election Sub-Committee, Security Sub-Committee, Political Sub-Committee, Northern Unity Sub-Committee and a Restructuring of Nigeria Sub-Committee.
In a communiqué, the group agreed to hold a Northern Political Summit on 15th March 2018.
It said yesterday’s meeting was to:
Review the general security situation in the North and proffer viable solution;
Appraise the current state of politics in the North in relation to the unfolding national political dynamics with a view to creating a common Northern position for alliance with our fellow citizen in the southern zones;
Examine the causes of conflict among Northerners and suggest practical ways and means of attaining functional unity;
Discuss and suggest the best mode of maximizing Northern advantages in the 2019 general elections;
Impress upon our people to register and have their PVCs; and
Discuss and formulate the stand of the North on the various issues raised.
Discuss any other business that could further embellish the main aim of the conversation,” they stated in the communiqué.
The stakeholders said the governors have become too powerful and extremely self-alienated from Arewa interests as espoused by late Sardauna Ahmadu Bello, the Arewa leaders reeled out major problems caused by northern governors’ peculiar disposition.
It said: “Governors were seriously indicted for inability to maintain fairness, equity and social cohesion in business of governance especially on government appointments and empowerment.
“Most appointees were being married to nepotism as a new phenomenon rearing its ugly heads in the region.
“The Governors were challenged to change their disposition and borrow a lead from Sardauna and his key officers for change for the better in larger interest of the North.
“The Governors were also reminded of their detrimental approach to issues of Northern unity; employing series examples like giving support to third term or tenure elongation of Obasanjo and their open disregard to (Arewa ) unity of purposes.”
At Saturday’s meeting were Alhaji Tanko Yakasai; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar N’Abba; former FCT Minister, Jeremiah Useni; former governor of Adamawa, Boni Haruna; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada; former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Ango Abdullahi; Prof Auwal Yadudu; former ministers, Mukhtar Shehu Shagari and Solomon Ewuga