Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, Northern leaders, including serving and former senators, religious leaders, bureaucrats and technocrats, yesterday said they will only support a presidential candidate who shows commitment and capacity to address the challenges facing the region.
This is even as the stakeholders drawn from the 19 states of the North lamented the insecurity, disunity, backwardness and other social issues militating against the development of the region.
They also bemoaned the inability of the region’s leaders to set in motion, steps towards addressing the problems facing it.
At a two-day conference in Abuja organised by a pro-northern group, Arewa New Agenda (ANA), the speakers decried the erosion of the unity that once held the region together.
The secretary general, AREWA Consultative Forum, Murtala Aliyu, noted that the region must “reinforce its confidence and negotiate with the country’s political leadership to ensure its speedy development.”
This is as he regretted that for long leaders from the north had pursued “narrow and personal interest as against the interest of the people of the area.”
His position was corroborated by the director, AREWA House, Dr Shuaibu Aliyu, whose submission observed that the region remains the binding force unifying the country.
While regretting that the region had been abandoned for decades, Dr Aliyu pointed out that the area can “comfortably compete with the rest of the world if its agro-sector is developed.”
Senator Ahmad Moallahyidi, convener of the conference explained that with a land mass of 98.3 million hectares, of which 82 million is arable, the region can feed not just Nigeria, but the entire West African subregion.
“Since more than 2/3 of Nigerian land is in northern Nigeria, it is quite evident that the north holds the key to food security, fight to end hunger and malnutrition and therefore the way to sustained agriculture-led growth to curb hunger.”
Retired permanent secretary and special adviser on Social Investment to the Plateau State government, Dr Sumaye Hamza urged leaders of the north to brace up for action rather than the usual rhetoric.
She said “Time for rhetoric is past. Now is Time for action.
“AREWA has to refocus and give Nigeria the needed push to move forward as the region determines who becomes the President.”
She added that “Nigeria, especially the North is endowed with huge resources. Unfortunately, what she lacks is teamwork, and this we need to inculcate these attributes that built advanced societies into ourselves.”
“North has learnt enough lessons to allow it to re-strategise for future generations,” she opined as she identified Nigeria’s rich cultural diversity as a tool for tourism.
She however lamented the region’s refusal to carry women and youths along, insisting that “the women of the region must make themselves relevant,” as she advocated for equal opportunities for all including persons living with disability
“Nurturing our political seedlings is a collective responsibility and it must be done in unity,” the Plateau State SA on Social Investment stressed.