The northern part of the country which lost the Presidency with the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010 has begun fresh efforts to regain control of Aso Rock.
Northern leaders, including former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau met yesterday to fine-tune their strategies for getting back the Presidency.
The Arewa leaders spoke Wednesday at the opening of a two-day conference entitled: “The North and strategies for sustainable development”, organised by Arewa House Centre for Historical Documentation and Research of the Ahmadu Bello University.
They expressed deep worry about the dwindling political leadership fortune of the North.
In his address, Gowon reflected on the nation’s system of producing leadership and called for the introduction of an electoral college for the presidential election in 2015.
Gowon, who was represented by the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, stressed that the North must come together to forge a common front for the region to enjoy political progress and development, which the nation at large would benefit from.
He said: “Unless we come together in the North, we would continue to have problems. I met with the Senate caucus in the North in Abuja last week and I asked them to reconsider the introduction of an electoral college in electing the president.”
Other northerners at the conference included former Governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero; former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri; former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Aliyu Modibbo Umar and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) former governorship candidate in Kaduna State, Alhaji Bashir Bugaje. Senator Umaru Dahiru represented the Senate President, David Mark, on the occasion.
Delivering his address, the Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, said: “The North has been a catalyst for the unity, stability and development of the country. The country has been relying for direction from the North. This is contrary to what some out there would want the world to believe about the North. History has shown that the unity and strength of the North, with a collective sense of purpose and focus, has been the bastion for the unity and strength of Nigeria. We must do everything to sustain this responsibility bestowed on us by providence.
“My candid belief is that the outcome of this conference will rather reinforce this fact of history. As people with responsibilities to our electorate, we are working tirelessly to strengthen the country by building on the solid structures laid by the past Nigerian leaders such as Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Michael Okpara and Chief Anthony Enahoro.
“They have laid a foundation for us to transform ourselves into visionary leaders. Leaders with positive pictures in their minds all the time. A leadership that is preoccupied with changing the economic, political and social landscape of the North and by extension, Nigeria in a proactive way. A leadership that insists on the diversification of the economy of the North. A leadership that looks beyond the present heavy reliance on petroleum. A leadership that re-invents the wheel to bring back the groundnut and cotton pyramids of yesteryears in a creative, imaginative and inventive way.
“A leadership that mobilises resources to put pressure on the relevant stakeholders in the Nigerian project to put solid mineral resources under more imaginative scrutiny for the betterment of the North. A leadership that explores and exploits the tourism potential in many parts of northern Nigeria.”
He added: “The presence of these leadership traits is a step toward having a sustainable development that will create an enabling environment for better services, better infrastructure and education; build on sound moral values and respect for human dignity. We should stop encouraging religious and ethnic intolerance. We should, on the contrary, work hard to transform the mindset of the average Nigerian and guide it into positive channels. Nigeria must be great again. She must start tapping its diverse human and natural resources to the fullest which God has endowed the country with and which we are not adequately taking full advantage of.”
On the effort by the Arewa leaders to forge a common front for the purpose of advancing the cause of the North, Yakowa queried: “How can we get the North more united? How can we manage our diversity better? How can we cultivate trust and confidence not only between our different ethnicities but also between the government and the governed? How do we create hope for the next generation?”
He then urged the organisers of the conference “to look at these questions seriously but passionately and to come up with an articulated agenda to recreate a new North for a new Nigeria, to the satisfaction of the founding-fathers, the present and future generations and to the greater glory of God”, adding that “we strongly believe these are possibilities.”
Some of the Arewa leaders went into a caucus meeting to fine-tune their political agenda on how to bring back the Presidency to the North under a credible leadership.
A source at the meeting told The Guardian that “the stakes are high, that we know. But we are going to ensure that the North puts its house in order to produce a good leader for the country in 2015.”