- The meeting was convened by Bello Mohammed, a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and had northern elders in attendance
- The forum created various sub-committees including the one to look into the issue of restructuring
- Bello said the elders would decide on a consensus candidate ahead of 2019
Ahead of the 2019 presidential election, elders and top political figured in the northern part of Nigeria have met in Abuja with the sole target of brainstorming and coming up with strategies for the selection of a consensus candidate.
The Punch reports that under the aegis of the Northern Elders and Stakeholders, the northern leaders met explaining that the meeting was aimed at seeking ways for an acceptable person who would fly the zone’s presidential flag.
The report said the meeting was convened by a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Bello Mohammed; a former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu, and Senator Paul Zannan.
A former governor of Niger state, Babangida Aliyu; Senator Bala Mande and Senator Solomon Ewuga; Professor Ango Abdullahi, a former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; a former governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa; a prominent lawyer, Awwal Yadudu, and Alhaji Bala Mohammed were at the meeting.
The report said the meeting, chaired by Tanko Yakassai, a chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum, was also connected with the widespread complaint about the government of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as his health status.
Yakassai reportedly said the group was non-partisan, adding: “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.”
Explaining the reason the meeting was convened, Bello Mohammed said: “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.
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“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.”
A communique released by the elders after the gathering also 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.”
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