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North may not participate in National Conference, Says ACF

By The Citizen
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Northern elders, under the auspices of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) are still contemplating whether the North will participate in the National Conference endorsed by President Jonathan to address social, political and economic problems facing the nation.

The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, Saturday, said that the region has not made up its mind on whether to make representation or take any grievances of the North to the conference, and that until when the Advisory Committee inaugurated by President Jonathan comes out with the aims, content and direction of the conference before the North reacts.

The Chairman of the 19 Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu has called the conference a bluff, saying that the North has nothing to lose from its outcome.

Aliyu who was a guest of honour at the commissioning of a private radio station in Kaduna -Liberty Radio- yesterday, said that the members of the Committee in charge of the Ahmed Bello Memorial Foundation have already been directed to work on the position the North would present at the confab.

Sani who spoke on the position of the North on the endorsement of a national dialogue by Jonathan to redress the woes of Nigeria, explained that constituting political conferences has never been the nation's problem, rather 'the problem of Nigeria has been the collapse of national values, ideals and good leadership'.

He said: 'We have never believed that the conference will solve our problems. And this is because there have been so many conferences and so many resolutions.'

Sani argued that 'since one section of the country has accepted to go on conference and the government has bought into it, I want to confess to you that we do not have a pre-conception of the conference and we did not say this is our position

'But we are now waiting; one, for the advisory committee to come out with the aim, the nature, the content and direction of the conference. It is from there we would be able to react accordingly. To ask us now on what the ACF would be tabling before the conference would not be fair to us, because we don't know the issues and nature of the conference.

'We did not canvass for the conference and therefore we did not have any pre-conception about the conference. We are waiting for the Advisory Committee to advise government about the aim, the content, the direction of the conference before we react.'

Besides, Sani explained further, 'Our problem has nothing to do with the nature of the country, that is to say the structure of the country, with the form of government and with the law. The issues have been a result of collapse of our national ideals, collapse of our moral values, collapse of our social contract, through rules, and with individuals, to the extent that today, we have lost our sense of pride as a nation.

'So, we believe that the solution to our problems is to get a leadership that will rewire the polity, that will engineer our sense of justice, that will give hope to our younger generation and change our ways of doing things.'

The ACF chieftain however said, 'One way of approaching it is for Nigerians to make judicious use of their democratic rights, to ensure that their votes count, to ensure that the leaders that would emerge in 2015 will be accountable to them and make poverty history. That is our position.

'But, we are not opposed to any dialogue, if it will bring about peace, justice and development in the country. You must have read or heard that some people are saying that the conference was approved in order to checkmate the activities of the G-7. I don't want to believe that, otherwise there may be wisdom in the fears of those who believe that the aim of the government is to divert attention.'