Ahead of the 2015 general elections, the northern stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday held a strategic meeting where the 2015 general elections dominated the discussions.
The meeting was also to strategise and take necessary resolutions that will help the party in the forthcoming general elections.
The presidential aspirants, including Leadership founder Sam Nda-Isaiah, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, and Kano State governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso were in attendance.
Former head of state and presidential aspirant General Buhari, in his speech at the meeting before it continued behind closed-door, averred that if Nigerians allow the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to continue to rule this country for the next four years, it will send the country down the drain
He also said Nigerians are tired of incompetent leadership and urged the electorate to be alert in all ramification to ensure that there are free, fair and credible elections that would usher in credible leaders at all levels of governance.
General Buhari described 2015 as another year of extreme concern to Nigerians, urging participants at the meeting not to allow their members to be disenfranchised before or during the elections.
He also emphasised the need for the party to be united and make a difference in the general elections.
Speaking in the same vein, Borno State governor Kashim Shettima called on the north to, irrespective of their religion and ethnicity, summon courage and come together to salvage the country, as Nigerians go into another round of elections next year.
He said that the north has the numerical strength to make or mar the future of this country.
According to the governor, the north has been the least in all indices of economic development, let alone now that insurgency is ravaging some parts of the region, saying that, “We are now the poorest of the earth. Poverty has no religion, it has no ethnicity, and therefore, we must reach out to other parts of the country, so that by 2015, other Nigerians can join forces with us to salvage the country.
“We must not fight over political offices within the party. We must not allow our aspirations as individuals to jeopardise our collective resolve to salvage the country. We have the number and we are in the position to make or mar the future of the generation yet unborn in this country.
“The north is in shambles. Citizens have become refugees in their country. There is need to produce the next president from the north. But this is not without challenges, requiring vigilance and courage. There is need to bury our differences and become united to confront the challenges ahead. If we can summon courage to come together, irrespective of our religious and ethnic differences, we are poised to forming the next government, come 2015,” he stated.
Meanwhile, northern socio-cultural group, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), in its goodwill message delivered by Barrister Solomon Dalung on behalf of the chairman Ibrahim Coomassie, urged northerners not to allow themselves to be divided by the artificial differences created by politicians to divide the north.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who spoke for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), said the north has paid huge price for the failure of democracy in Nigeria. He therefore said 2015 should be seen as a turning point for the people of the north.
“We look forward to any party that will deliver good governance, let us find the best person to lead the north and Nigeria in 2015.
“Do not allow your personal interest to override general interest. Nigeria is too important to be sacrificed on the platform of personal interest,” he said.
NEF also called on the APC stakeholders to engage in discussions that will see to it that all the northern presidential aspirants are engaged in dialogues aimed at reaching a consensus with least friction.
Governors of Borno and Zamfara states, Kashim Shettima and Abdulhazeez Yari, respectively and that of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, were also in attendance.
Earlier in his welcome address, the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, who is the convener of the meeting, said it was important for the party to learn from the lessons of history and ensure that it gets stronger, more focussed and committed to democratic ideals.
At the end of the meeting, a communiqué issued and signed by the convener said the meeting welcomed any effort to resolve the conflict between the Boko Haram sect and the federal government towards a ceasefire, while advising against attempts to deceive Nigerians and create a false sense of security for political ends.
According to the communiqué, “The incoming APC government in 2015 will make security of lives and property of all citizens, respect for the rule of law, and good governance, its topmost priority, to provide a level playing field to all those who aspire to contest for public office on the platform of the party through its internal democratic processes; work closely and diligently with all members of the party across the country to ensure the ousting of the corrupt, disastrous and clueless Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the 2015 general elections.”