Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Northern elders and stakeholders at the weekend converged on Abuja to brainstorm towards producing a consensus presidential candidate from the region other than President Muhammadu Buhari.
This was as they stated that Buhari and late President Umaru Yar’Adua, both from the North, were not chosen by northerners but were imposed on the North in particular and the country in general by certain forces.
They therefore vowed to resist a repeat of such development, basing their resolve on the country’s leadership failure that has led to killings, ethno-religious divisions associated with nepotism and blatant disregard to some sections of the Nigerian constitution.
At the opening of the session in Abuja, the elders said the meeting was called to seek ways of reaching an accord for an acceptable person who will take over the mantle of leadership and reunite the country.
The meeting was convened by a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed; former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu and Senator Paul Zannan.
Speaking at the event, Mohammed explained that the forum was convened “after due consideration of the current political situation in the country”, stressing that it has become expedient to convene a conversation of critical Northern Elders and stakeholders to deliberate on the best way forward for the region”.
He added that the gathering was necessitated by the need to 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.
“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,” he explained.
He maintained that the reason for the forum: “There is therefore an urgent need for consultations across all shades of political opinions within the North with the principal aim of forging a common front to partner with our brothers and sisters in other regions to ensure that, this time around, the leadership that shall emerge is one that can unite and develop our country with equity, justice and peace for all. This is the main objective of this meeting.”
Bello, a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said: “We believe, there is an urgent need to hold a conversation amongst us with a view to devising practical strategies, options and choices in all matters relating to the 2019 general elections.
“We believe this should be encouraged, supported and vigorously pursued in order to produce a dynamic and committed political leadership that Nigeria so desperately needs at this juncture.”
In his opening remarks, elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who chaired the forum tagged: “Northern Elders and Stakeholders Conversation”, said the meeting was informed by the need for the elders to facilitate for intensive consultations and easy collaboration among Northern elites preparatory for functional political alliance with other geo-political zones of the country based on equality, justice and the advancement of common good.
Other prominent Northern leaders at the event were former governor of Bauchi State and former PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Senator Bala Mande and Senator Solomon Ewuga.
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, were also in attendance.