Governors of the 19 northern states yesterday stated that the region must unite against all odds to produce a sole candidate for the presidential position come 2015.
Niger State governor and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, who stated this yesterday while addressing journalists after the meeting that lasted several hours, also supported General Muhammadu Buhari’s call for a free and fair general election.
He said: “Let’s take it on our own stride and ensure that future elections are deemed to be transparent and good.
“But, we must also resolve that, by 2015, we are going as a united constituent group. There were times when we went as constitutionalist and federalist as well as regionalist.
‘‘I believe that we should not allow what will happen in 2015 to distract us. Instead of talking development and security issues, we have been discussing more on 2015.
“This time around we must do everything within the time period to unite ourselves and go as a united group. We must understand that the interest of the people is paramount.
“We must also understand that there are political parties and platforms and it is the interest of the people that should guide our action, our interest and our activities.’’
Gov. Aliyu also commended the federal government’s efforts to check security challenges and pledged to end the spate of violence in the region.
He pleaded with fellow governors to find a means of getting a solution to end the crises and allow peace to reign in their states.
He said individuals and groups seeking to restore normalcy should be encouraged to do so.
“It is unfortunate that the situation has not abated; rather, it is worsening and attaining alarming dimensions with attendant negative implications for the economic growth and development of our nation and, indeed, our national image,’’ the governor stated.
“This is the period that we have to demonstrate, individually and collectively, our abiding faith in our nation. ‘‘When we must confront the common enemies of the nation, those who are sworn to destroying the spirit of nationhood through wanton destruction of lives and property.’’
Babangida also lauded the federal government’s initiative on promoting the Almajirai education system and advised the governors to domesticate the programme.
He enjoined his colleagues not to be distracted by political campaigns for 2015, telling them to put their faith in God and redeem their electoral pledges.
``If our present opportunity as governors and leaders cannot earn us paradise, it should not send us to hellfire; we must ensure that we enter 2015 as a peaceful and united constituent of Nigeria,’’ he said.
Babangida announced that the Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, designed to accelerate development in the region, had collected N2.3 billion as donations and on investments.
He assured that the proceeds would be reinvested in social development projects to improve the living standards of the people.
On General Buhari’s comment, the forum said: “In a democratic system, every individual has his ways and there are many of us whose ways of communication are quite different from others.
“Given the same statement to somebody, he may have used different vocabulary. Again, certain facts are understood, that if this happens that would happen, I think it is a natural thing to do.
“May be those who may be too concerned have not looked at what other eminent Nigerians have been talking about. I saw one that said Nigeria is going to be Somalianised, I saw another one who has been telling like there would be war tomorrow.
“So, for me, that statement should be taken on its own value. Do not go and do bad election: I think that is the whole thing I will take there.
The forum also harped on the need to urgently revive the agricultural potential of the region and resucitate the New Nigerian Newspaper alongside the Kaduna textile industry.