President Muhammadu Buhari’s ambition to run for a second term may be hanging in the balance as prominent Northerners converged on Abuja on Saturday to begin the search for a consensus presidential candidate.
They met at the Shehu Musa Uar’Adua Centre under the aegis of the Northern Elders and Stakeholders.
Amobg them were a former Political Adviser to the President during the Second Republic, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; a former Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu; a former Governor of Bauchi State and former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babanjida Aliyu; Senator Bala Mande, and Senator Solomon Ewuga.
Others are Alhaji Ango Abdullahi, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, Alhaji Bala Mohammed and prominent lawyer, Prof. Awwal Yadudu, among others.
They are believed to moving to adopt a consensus candidate acceptable to the North and South.
Speaking at the event, the Chairmam and former defence minister, Dr. Haliru Bello, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed said the forum was convened after due consideration of the current political situation in the country. The general state of insecurity and political uncertainty, he said, made it highly expedient to convene a conversation of critical Northern Elders and stakeholders to deliberate on the best way forward for the region.
According to him, there was need for the region to deliberate and reach an acceptable choice for representation, given that the 2019 presidency had been zoned to the North.
“What we can see in the political arena, is that most political operators have agreed that the political leadership of our country should be zoned to the North, according to our Constitution with regards to zoning and rotation. But from what we have seen earlier, it has always been zoned to the North but the decision on what to do and who to be has never been a Northern decision.
“What we observed is that the same trend is starting now. We have seen all kinds of movements coming up. If you look at what is happening now and remember what happened when it was the time of the North to produce president, President Umaru Yar’Adua of blessed memory was produced but was he really a Northern choice? At the end of the day, Yar’Adua had mishap and lost his life in the process and somebody else was also chosen, his Vice President. We knew the struggle that went on when it was decided that the presidency should leave the North. It wasn’t the northerners who decided that the Presidency should leave the North. We had to follow the bandwagon.
“The same thing happened in 2015, the North voted for the northern candidate but the decision on who should be the candidate wasn’t a northern decision. What we want is that this time around, let us have the opportunity to come together so that whatever is decided for the North, it is the Northern leaders who decide it and then we get support from other regions.
“If we are able to do that, then we should be able to produce a leadership for this country that would be just, equitable and lead us to nation’s development which is eluding us. That is the reason why we are here.
“There is therefore an urgent need for consultations across all shades of political opinions within the North with the principal aim of forging a common front to partner with our brothers and sisters in other regions to ensure that, this time around, the leadership that shall emerge is one that can unite and develop our country with equity, justice and peace for all. This is the main objective of this meeting,” Mohammed explained.