The North Central Peoples’ Forum (NCPF) said they are a part of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), thus laying to rest the misinformation in certain quarters that its establishment was to undermine the foremost northern apex socio-cultural group.
The NCPF clarified this yesterday when its leaders visited Audu Ogbeh, the ACF chairman at his residence in Abuja.
It also adopted the ACF chairman, Audu Ogbeh, as its member, just as both organisations agreed to commence familiarisation visit to governors for proper understanding of the group’s vision.
NCPF, a territorial grouping comprising key members of the North Central intelligentsia, was inaugurated on September 9, 2020 to address the security, social and political challenges bedeviling the region.
The forum declared that it will be a non-partisan and non-religious group with the primary aim of promoting peace and unity among its diverse and disparate peoples, as well as tackling insecurity and working to promote the enlightened political self-interest of the zone.
Speaking during the visit to chairman of ACF, Ogbeh, at his residence in Abuja, the interim chairman of NCPF, Gabriel Aduku, who led the delegation of the North Central leaders, declared that the forum is a micro organisation within the apex northern body.
Underscoring their loyalty to ACF, Aduku revealed that he is number 12 on the list of the members in the foremost northern body.
Describing yesterday’s meeting as a family affair, Aduku noted that the visit was very imperative for two main reasons: “To formally intimate and familiarise you with the fundamental objectives for which the Forum was inaugurated on 9 September, 2020 and to court your partnership and that of the ACF for the collaborative development of our Forum and Peoples of the North Central Zone.’’
Aduku added that part of their desire is to ensure equitable and fair political and developmental engagement with the national authority and other zones of the federation in the distribution of national commonwealth of opportunities and resources.
The secretary general of the NCPF, Khaleel Bolaji, said they had written to the six governors of the zone to intimate them before the inauguration of the forum.
Bolaji said governors of the North Central zone will be the major beneficiaries of the forum as it will soon embark on efforts to redirect the economy of the zone through several engagements.
He said the group should not be politicised, adding that it was very important for the governors in the zone to support the forum.
On his part, the chairman of LEADERSHIP Group Limited, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, stressed that the ACF is the parent organization of the NCPF.
The media chief also addressed the issue of zoning the presidency, which is raising dust in the country’s political space, insisting that merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of some nebulous self-serving zoning formula.
But according to him, if the zoning formula must be implemented, then the correct formula should be rotation among the six geo-political zones and not just between the North and South.
“Zoning of the presidency that started in 1999 should be totally discarded for merit, but if zoning must be adopted, then the rotation should be among the six geo-political zones, and not just between the North and the South. This means three zones, South West, South -South and North West have already taken turns in producing the president since 1999. This in turn suggests that in 2023, the presidency should only be open to North Central, North East and South East zones, as these zones have yet to produce the president”,Nda-Isaiah pointed out.
Also, former deputy president of the Senate Ibrahim Mantu, corroborated Nda-Isaiah’s stance on the need to consider merit above the zoning formula.
He reiterated the need for merit to be the yardstick for everything in the country, adding that Nigeria would not be in the state it is today if the right people were put in the right places.
He solicited the support of all and sundry for the new North Central Peoples’ Forum, even as he appealed to all to support the chairman of ACF to achieve what others were not able to achieve.
He further noted that the formation of the North Central Peoples’ Forum is one of the best things that have happened to the region.
Also speaking, the ACF chairman, Chief Ogbeh, advised the North Central People’s Forum to adopt the agricultural policy of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), saying it will salvage the misfortune of the region.
Accordingly, he advocated the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) programmes introduced by Babangida to be adopted to lift the rural areas economically.
Ogbeh also recalled that he and Aduku had known each other for the past 40 years, adding that there was no war between the ACF and the NCPF.
The ACF chairman continued: “When the media said to me: ‘is it not a breakup?’ I said, ‘No; we the North occupy 76 per cent of Nigeria’s landmass. We have wealth but still poor. So, I said to the press, ‘no crisis’. The place is large. We do not see a conflict between the zonal arraignment and ACF,” Ogbeh said.
He said the ACF is commencing a programme to tackle insecurity, noting that the North Central is the richest zone in the country with some of the finest people and definitely more patriotic.
“We can work together. Let’s work together, bearing in mind that we are in very serious trouble. God has given us what we need. Let’s work with our heads,”
“Henceforth, ACF agenda will not be politics alone, but economic policies to empower the army of youths and keep them fully engaged and away from crime. If Kogi and Niger States alone decide to develop the rice industry, it will wipe out all the armed robbers and kidnappers,” Ogbeh said while calling for economic inclusion.
According to him, Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava, yet it imports $650 million cassava products.
“The same thing goes for cashew and this year, in my village, farmers who picked some cashew seedlings from me sold over N300million worth of cashew,” Ogbeh said, adding that in three years’ time, the villagers will achieve more.