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Northern Leaders Meet In Search Of Solution To Regional Problems

By The Citizen
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Northern leaders on Wednesday converged in Kaduna in the continued search forĀ  solutions to the problems of the region.

The leaders met at the opening of a two-day conference organised by the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research, Arewa House.

Declaring the conference open,former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, said the leaders must set aside their personal ambitions and differences to advance the course of the region.

He said the leaders needed to collectively put the interest of the region first, otherwise efforts to address its serious challenges would continue to remain illusive.

Gowon, who was represented by the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Aliko Mohammed suggested the introduction of an electoral college to aid in sanitising the nation’s electoral system.

He condemned the agitation for the creation of more states in the country, saying it would be wasteful, as most of the areas seeking new states have no substantive means of revenue generation.

“ As at now, we don't feel there is the need for the creation of more states because apart from Lagos, the 35 other states cannot survive and run on their internal revenue.''

In a remark, Gov. Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State said the conference was apt in view of the need to explore new options to address the challenges of the region.

“The conference is not just on how to merely respond to the challenges the North is facing today, but doing so on research-based findings that would reposition the North positively and adequately.''

Yakowa said the quest for sustainable development would be more comprehensive and better achieved in a democratic setting.

“ Sustainable development is the bedrock for consolidating our democratic enterprise in an atmosphere of freedom and in appreciation of our diversity as a people.”

He called for more tolerance among the diverse people in the country so as to ensure sustained unity in the country.

“Nigeria, as a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse people, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups, cannot continue to behave as a group of irreconcilable religious and ethnic nationalities.''

The governor noted that the north had always been regarded as the catalyst for the unity, stability and development of the country, hence the need for peace to reign.

“ The country has been relying for direction from the North. This is contrary to what some out there would want the world to believe about the North.

“ History has shown that the unity and strength of the North, with a collective sense of purpose and focus has been the bastion for the unity and strength of Nigeria.

“We must do everything to sustain this responsibility bestowed on us by providence. ''

Yakowa, therefore stressed the need for positive leadership qualities geared towards changing the economic, political and social landscape of the North and Nigeria.

“ The presence of these leadership traits is a step toward having a sustainable development that will create an enabling environment for better services, better infrastructure and education; build on sound moral values and respect for human dignity.”

He urged the participants to come up with an articulated agenda that would recreate “a new North for a new Nigeria, to the satisfaction of the founding fathers, the present and future generations and to the greater glory of God”.

On his part, the Vice Chancellor of ABU, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha said the conference was aimed at proffering strategies on ways to reposition agriculture, industries and mining sectors.

“ There is the need for independent resources to strategically conceive and nurture the political, socio-economic programmes needed for the transformation of northern Nigeria, which has always been a positive factor in the unity, stability and development of the country.''

Mustapha , represented by his deputy, Prof. Naiya Sada identified courage, mutual trust and religious tolerance as the catalyst for addressing insecurity and backwardness in the region.“Of recent, our country has been facing certain challenges. We need to make sacrifices to wither the storm of these challenges. And this requires courage in which the north and the northerners are known for.''

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, academicians and experts attended the event.