2015: Babangida, Buhari others begin consultations

Former President, Ibrahim Babangida The re-unification of the North ahead of the 2015 presidential poll is in progress.

The project, which has former military president Ibrahim Babangida, a respected former Minister of Defence, and ex-military head of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari,as its arrow heads,entails rallying the entire North behind the bid for the return of the Presidency to that part of the country in the next election.

Political and opinion leaders across the three geo-political zones-Northwest,North central and North east- are being consulted to lend their weight to the cause, The Nation gathered yesterday.

The convener of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, a former Minister of Finance and other elders, may be brought in in the course of the consultations.

Investigation by our correspondent showed that the initiative has been on discreetly for at least three months.

Five factors are said to have spurred the brains behind the project into action.

These include alleged alienation of the North by the presidency in appointment and policy matters; unprecedented polarization /division of the region along religious and ethnic lines; the worsening security situation in the region; alleged under-development of the North and the yawning gap between the North and the South ; and the manner in which the South-South has allegedly divided the nation and what is seen in the North as its desperate plot to retain the presidency in 2015.

Said one source familiar with the issue: “In the last few months, Babangida, Buhari, a former defence minister and some select broad-minded Northern leaders like ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, have been holding consultations on how to reunite the North and reassert its relevance in national politics.

“Buhari is part of the group because his presidential aspiration has been a challenge to the North and without any pretence, the former Head of State commands a large following such that his disposition could make or mar the reunification plan.

“Since 2011, the North has lost so much to political rancour and crises. The leaders believe that they cannot allow the situation to continue like this.

“The aftermath of the division in the North is the near relegation of the region in the scheme of things. So, the rapprochement would achieve two purposes: reunifying Northern leaders and all Northerners and assist the region to regain power or reassert its political influence in 2015.”

Continuing,the source said: “I am confident that Babangida, Buhari and others could salvage the situation with the help of other Northern leaders.

“It is when the leaders have reached an appreciable level that convener of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, and other elders would now be involved.”

A highly-placed source in Atiku Campaign Organization, who spoke in confidence, confirmed the reunification plan.

The source said: “We are aware that there are underground moves to reunite Northern leaders irrespective of their political leanings. All the leaders have no doubt realized that they must reunify.

“After bringing everyone together, these leaders will now sit down to chart a direction for the North and its political relevance as a critical region in Nigeria .

“We do not know how long the reunification would last but at the appropriate time, the leaders will make their position known.”

A source within the Northern Governors Forum said: “Talks are ongoing among Northern leaders, serving and strategic past governors, ex-ministers and political heavyweights.

“There is likelihood that the North will change its direction from what it did in 2011. But the details are being worked out.

“This is not a question of zeroing in on any candidate at all. We are trying to define our interest and how to go about it. So far, there is a consensus that the North was not circumspect enough in 2011.”

The Convener of the Committee of Concerned Northern Professionals, Politicians, Academics and Businessmen (CCNPPAB), Dr. Junaid Mohammed, however cautioned the leaders to go for credible leaders in 2015.

He said: “My reaction to the ongoing moves to reunite the North is that it is a welcome development. But welcoming it is not to encourage these Northern leaders to gang up. Rather, they should use it to redefine the focus of the North and help Nigeria ’s future.

“Northern leaders have made a mistake with the so-called zoning policy. They should retrace their steps. They should really come back and show that they have learnt some lessons from the errors they committed in 2011.

“They should not think that the presidency is a divine right of the North or not. They should re-unite to ensure that people who are just and fair are in charge of the affairs of this nation because the current leadership is neither fair nor just.”

The Nation

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