None of the 19 northern governors attended the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) which held yesterday as they were busy with their campaigns. Even the host governor, Mr Patrick Yakowa, did not attend but his deputy, Alhaji Muktar Ramalan Yero, represented him. Similarly, the chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Dr Babangida Aliyu, the governor of Niger State, was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Musa Ibeto. Also, the immediate past chairman of the forum, retired General IBM Haruna, was not seen at the occasion. The Deputy Governor of Kaduna and his Niger counterpart told the gathering that their bosses were absent because of the ongoing campaigns for the 2011 general elections.
The event which was held at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua indoor sports hall of the Murtala Mohammed Square, Kaduna was chaired by the former Head of State, retired General Yakubu Gowon who also inaugurated the Alhaji Aliko Mohammed-led executive council. General Gowon earlier in his address urged northerners to give the new leaders of the forum maximum support for them to succeed in contributing towards the development of the region.
Vice President Mohamed Namadi Sambo in his address said the Federal Government was resolute in pursuing peace initiatives in the North with particular emphasis on Plateau, Borno and Bauchi states to ensure that normalcy is restored in the areas.
‘’This is without prejudice to the overall peace efforts across the country to have a nation of our collective dreams and aspirations. We cannot achieve any meaningful development without peace,’’ he said.
Sambo while reiterating the commitment of the Federal Government to enhance infrastructure in the country, said they were considering the dredging of the River Benue up to Yola in Adamawa State to fast-track the development of the country.
He also said efforts to revive the New Nigerian Newspapers by offsetting the long outstanding liabilities of the company and giving it a lease of life by the Federal Government had reached an advanced stage.
Sambo urged the new leadership of the ACF to revisit the works of the Northern past heroes and borrow a leaf from such lofty experiences and efforts to develop workable synergies for the rapid development of the socio-economic potentials of the North for a greater Nigeria.
“We must eschew bitterness and politicization of the lives of our people by promoting such virtues that will unite rather than divide this blessed country of ours. We are confident in your ability to partner any government and stakeholder in that direction which we believe in turn shall reciprocate this gesture by giving all the necessary cooperation that the North desires,’’ he said.