By Salim Yunusa
Some prominent sons and daughters of northern region have initiated a non-partisan platform, Abuja Roundtable, on strategies to curb socioeconomic and security challenges in the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the personalities that form the roundtable are elder stateman Alhaji Bashir Tofa, former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Ms Naja’atu Tijjani, member of Police Service Commission and others.
Briefing newsmen, on Tuesday, in Abuja, Tofa, former Presidential Candidate of the defunct National Republican Congress (NRC), explained that the group was formed as a platform to collectively address the challenges of insecurity and underdevelopment in the region.
“We are fully aware that attaining these objectives will not be easy as the conditions and forces of division have taken root and have been left to fester unchecked over a long period.
“But the journey of a thousand miles, they say, begins with a single step. We are also hopeful that, as collective victims who have paid the price of division, our people have arrived at the realisation that unity is required to resolve other challenges afflicting the region.
“Recent consultations with eminent political, traditional and religious leaders across the north are encouraging. They reveal a strong desire to remove all obstacles to northern unity and a commitment to overcome its challenges.
“We will widen and deepen these consultations in the coming weeks, months and, if necessary, years in order to attain our objectives,” Tofa said.
He said that the most urgent task facing the peoples of northern Nigeria was to overcome fear and suspicion, jettison unhealthy division and create consensus around common goals and aspirations.
He said that these were necessary for creating the enabling environment to address most stubborn challenges such as insecurity, widespread poverty, collapse of institutions and services.
According to him, this will ensure that peace and prosperity once again return to the region.
“We are the ones who occupy this region, we are the ones who suffer the consequences of its diminution and we are the ones who must remedy the situation. It is in our common and enlightened interest to do so.”
Tofa called on all stakeholders, particularly political, business, technocratic, traditional, religious, community and youth leaders to support the initiative to recreate the entire northern landscape and make it conducive to a future worthy of succeeding generations.
He expressed hope that a new, united, secure and prosperous north was possible, ”but we have to work for it collectively in equity, good faith, mutual respect, love and goodwill towards each other.”
He stressed the need for more and better coordination among the military and security agencies as well as the civilian population.
Tofa said that no effort should be spared to bring an end to the wanton death and destruction that have been unleashed on the region.
In attendance were, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed, former Gov. Ramalan Yero of Kaduna, former Gov. Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto, former Gov. Abdulfatai Ahmed of Kwara, and former Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku.
Others are former Minister of Interior, retired Gen. Abdulrahaman Dambazau, former FCT Minister, Dr Aliyu Modibbo, former, Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Martin Agwai, Sen. Abdul Ningi and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Idi Hong. (NAN)