The Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly (NLSA) has inaugurated five standing committees to strategise on a peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections, restructuring and security in the North. NLSA’s chairman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who performed the inauguration yesterday in Abuja, said NLSA is a political but non-partisan organisation.
Yakasai who is also the chairman of NLSA’s Steering Committee listed the sub-committees as Security, Political, Northern unity, Elections and Restructuring. Northern leaders had, in a meeting co-convened by former Minister of Defence, Dr Bello Mohammed; former deputy Senate president, Senator Ibrahim Mantu and Senator Paul Wampana on February 10, discussed issues bordering on prevailing challenges in the North. The meeting, which was convened under the name Northern Elders and Stakeholders’ Conversation, set up five committees, while the name of the body was afterwards changed to NLSA.
Yakasai said that contrary to reports in the media, the body was not created to find a consensus presidential candidate from the North for the forthcoming presidential election. The terms of reference of the committees are, among others, to identify the primordial causes and factor that fuel conflict in Northern Nigeria, proffer solutions to the herders\farmers and Boko Haram problems in Nigeria.
Other terms are to advise on how the region can build a strong political force, chart a united direction for the North toward the 2019 election and identify possible alliance blocks in the Southern part of the country for 2019 election. Another key task is to take a Northern position on the question of restructuring and articulate modalities for the implementation of the suggested solution to the issue of restructuring.
According to Yakasai, NLSA is not a prelude to the formation of a political party, as its doors are wide open to every Northerner of all political persuasions without discrimination. He said, “The objective of this assembly is to principally focus on a strategy towards evolving a brighter future, economically viable, politically stable and united Northern Nigeria.
“The challenges of Boko Haram, ethno-religious, communal crises and herders-farmers conflicts in the North as well as kidnapping and armed robberies all over the North pose a serious challenge to our nation. I am, however, glad that one of the sub-committees inaugurated will be addressing these security challenges. “I believe that in addition to other areas of focus, the relevant committees will give insightful recommendations and assessment of the present day political reality of our country.
“Such recommendations will catalyse our dialogue on how we proceed towards achieving efficient and rancour free electioneering activities in the coming 2019 presidential and other elections for the sake of peace and tranquility.’’ In his remark, Mantu who is also a member of the Steering Committee said it had become imperative for Northerners to forge united front irrespective of their religious and cultural differences.
Dr Umar Ardo, NLSA’s Secretary, said one of the objectives of the assembly was to establish a wide and enduring political network and channel of communication for consultations and dialogue among Northern political elite. Responding on behalf of members of the committees, Senator Ibrahim Ida, a member of the Restructuring sub-Committee, said that the committees would work diligently to acquit themselves creditably.
The chairmen of committees are Senator Joseph Akaagerger, Security; Boni Haruna, Political; Senator Jeremiah Useni, Northern Unity; Ghali Umar Na’abba, Election and Prof Auwalu Yadudu, Restructuring. The committees have until March 31 to submit their reports.
Restructuring: IPOB Warns Ohaneze To Steer Clear
Meanwhile, the indigenous people of biafra (IPOB) has warned the apex-Igbo socio- cultural umbrella, Ohaneze Ndigbo, to steer clear of any discussion or activity that is against the realisation of a sovereign republic of Biafra. In a statement issued yesterday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, by its spokesman, Comrade Emma Powerful, the pro- biafra group warned Ohaneze to drop its plan to hold public discussion on the ongoing debate for restructuring of the country, threatening that any attempt to hold such event in any part of “biafran land” would spell doom for the organisers.
It stated that what provoked members of the group during the recent event organized by the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) at Enugu leading to the disruption of the event was because the issue concerning restructuring of the country was raised. IPOB warned that what happened at the ECA event would be a child’s play should Ohaneze ignore its warning and go ahead to hold its proposed public debate on restructuring.
“What happened at the said event will be nothing compared to what shall become of Ohaneze Ndigbo should they attempt to convene any public meeting anywhere in Biafraland to discuss restructuring or how to keep Nigeria one. What we want and are being killed for is referendum not restructuring; freedom not continued bondage in Nigeria” the IPOB statement partly read.
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