Elders and politicians from the northern region of Nigeria under the aegis of ‘Northern Elders and Stakeholders, on Saturday, converged on Abuja to discuss ways of presenting a consensus candidate to represent the interest and ambitions of the region for the 2019 presidential election in the country.
The members however, stated their intention is not to form a new political party but to harness resources and ideas towards presenting a unified position ahead of the 2019 elections.
Punch reports the meeting was convened by a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bello Mohammed; a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, and Senator Paul Zannan.
Other eminent northern leaders present at the event are a former governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu; Senator Bala Mande and Senator Solomon Ewuga.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi; a former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa; a prominent lawyer, Prof. Awwal Yadudu, and Alhaji Bala Mohammed were also in attendance.
The occasion was chaired by a chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai.
Yakassai disclosed the group has a political agenda but it was non-partisan in its activities.
He said, “The purpose of our meeting is not to form a political party. Our meeting was not to support any candidate; we don’t even know the candidates yet. The purpose is to see how to bring about unity of purpose in the North.
“Our main preoccupation is how to unite the North to relate better with the rest of Nigeria on a common ground.
“We are a political group but non-partisan (almost) all political parties were here, we are fighting for unity of the country we are not having anybody in mind, we want to have a common purpose.”
Mohammed, in his speech during the programme, stated the forum became necessary to strategize ahead of the 2019 elections in view of the country’s political situation.
“After due consideration of the current political situation in the country, it becomes highly expedient to convene a conversation of critical Northern Elders and Stakeholders to deliberate on the best way forward for the region.
“The conversation was necessitated by the need for us to deliberate and reach an acceptable choice for representation, given that the 2019 Presidency has been zoned to the North.
“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.
“From what we have seen earlier, it has always been zoned to the North but the decision on what to do and who to present has never been a northern decision.
“What we want is that this time round, 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.”
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, and read to newsmen by the chairman of the communiqué drafting committee, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu, the group agreed to set up a committee to search and present a consensus candidate for the 2019 presidential election as well as hold a political summit, tagged ‘Northern Political Submit’ on March 15, 2018.
The group also set up five sub-committees to look into other issues as concern the region.
The communique read, “This meeting is hereby established as a standing forum for the Northern Region to be known as Northern Political Leaders Forum.
“Five Sub-Committees are hereby set up to address the various issues challenging the Northern Region. The sub-committee during the summit are Security Sub-Committee; Political Sub-Committee; Northern Unity Sub-Committee; the 2019 Election Sub-Committee and the Restructuring of Nigeria Sub-Committee.
“The details of the members will be announced in due course.
“The meeting has approved the holding of a Northern Political Submit on March 15, 2018 to commemorate the attainment of self-government of the Northern Region in 1959.
“The reports of the committees will be delivered and deliberated on at the said Northern political summit.”