Elders and key political actors in northern Nigeria, on Saturday, met in Abuja to brainstorm on strategies to be adopted to pick a consensus candidate from the region for the 2019 presidential election.
The meeting, convened by a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bello Mohammed; a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, and Senator Paul Zannan was reportedly called to decide on an acceptable person who would fly the zone’s presidential flag in 2019, Punch writes.
Other prominent northern leaders at the event chaired by chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, are a former governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu; Senator Bala Mande and Senator Solomon Ewuga.
Speaking on whether the group would support President Muhammadu Buhari should he declare a desire to seek re-election, Yakassai said although the group was a political one, it was non-partisan.
“The purpose of our meeting is not to form a political party. Our meeting was not to support any candidate; we don’t even know the candidates yet. The purpose is to see how to bring about unity of purpose in the North.
“Our main preoccupation is how to unite the North to relate better with the rest of Nigeria on a common ground.
“We are a political group but non-partisan (almost) all political parties were here, we are fighting for unity of the country we are not having anybody in mind, we want to have a common purpose.”
Mohammed, who is also a former Minister of Defence, said the forum was convened “after due consideration of the current political situation in the country.”
He stated, “The conversation was necessitated by the need for us to deliberate and reach an acceptable choice for representation, given that the 2019 Presidency has been zoned to the North.
“From what is apparent in the political arena today, it is clear that the major political operators have agreed that in the forthcoming 2019 general elections, it is the turn of the North to produce the President.
“What we want is that this time round, 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.”
A committee was set up at the end of the meeting to search and present a consensus candidate for the 2019 presidential election.