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North-Central to Arewa: ‘One North’ no longer attractive to us

* Citing insecurity, prominent North-Central leaders announce zone's exit from Arewa Consultative Forum

 

Audu Ogbeh, Chairman, Arewah consultative Forum (ACF)

The North-Central geopolitical zone under the aegis of North Central Peoples Forum (NCPF) has pulled out of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), hitherto the umbrella political organisation for Northerners, citing deteriorating insecurity of lives and property in Northern Nigeria.

Leaders of the zone who announced the formation of NCPF said they would galvanise their people under that platform to battle insecurity in, and marginalisation of, the North Central which, after decades of political affinity with core, Muslim North, would appear to have gained practically nothing from what many have described as ‘a union of conveneince’.

Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the group, led by a former Minister of State for Health, Gabriel Aduku as interim chairman, lamented that, despite its abundant mineral and human resources, the North-Central was still bedevilled by vices like kidnapping, banditry and other forms of criminality.

Among those listed as members of and leaders of NCPF are former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Jerry Useni; former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu; former Military Administrator of Kwara State, Col. David Bamigboye (rtd.) and former Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Olusola Akomode.

Others are publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah; former Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, Ahmed Ibeto; a media consultant, Alhaji Tajudeen Kareem; a former Deputy Governor of Benue State, Chief Stephen Lawani and Alhaji Alfa Mohammed, among others.

In a chat with journalists, General Useni explained that they were inspired to form NCPF by what he described as the “group affinity and solidarity” visible among States in geopolitical zones with such groups, noting that under NCPF, the people of the North Central zone would be able to canvass things of common interest.

He expressed confidence that the forum would unite the people of Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory in their quest to ensure that peace and stability was established and sustained within the zone, adding that the Forum would also pursue rapid industrialisation of the zone.

Besides, the group, he further explained, would pursue policies and processes that would ensure that the massive solid mineral and agricultural endowments of the zone were adequately harnessed.

He said: “The forum is also aimed at ensuring cooperation and support for the good policies and administration of the six governors of the zone, irrespective of our political, religious and ethnic differences.

“We will support and cooperate fully with the Federal Government for full and complete implementation of infrastructures, development projects situated in the zone and the involvement of the people of the zone in the national affairs of the country.

“We will promote, defend and strengthen North Central unity and the interest of its people in the context of one indivisible Nigeria and to contribute to the safeguarding of her territorial integrity.

“Consequently, every zone now has a common socio-political platform where they meet to discuss their strength and weakness with the view to propounding and promoting progress and development of the zone.”

Incidentally, the ACF is currently chaired by the immediate-past Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who is also from the North Central zone.

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