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M’Belt/S’East alliance: Northern leaders to meet in Kaduna

Posted by Segun Olatunji, John Alechenu and Musa Simon-Reef on 2005/08/07 | Views: 451 |

M’Belt/S’East alliance: Northern leaders to meet in Kaduna


A former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, and other Middle Belt leaders may have courted the wrath of the core north over their bid to forge a political alliance with the South-East for the 2007 poll.

A former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, and other Middle Belt leaders may have courted the wrath of the core north over their bid to forge a political alliance with the South-East for the 2007 poll.

They have come under strident criticisms from notable northern politicians, who accused them of pursuing personal ambitions.

According to investigations, the talks held on Tuesday in Abuja between the South-East and Middle-Belt leaders on the alliance have triggered a series of consultations among top northern politicians on how to respond to the latest challenge.

Sources said the issue might form the agenda of a meeting of northern leaders coming up on Wednesday in Kaduna.

Sunday Punch learnt that the parley is being convened by of the Arewa Consultative Forum [ACF] under the guise of consulting with northern delegates to the recent National Political Reform Conference (NPRC).

The meeting is coming against the backdrop of Tuesday’s “public dialogue” held in Abuja by leaders of the Middle Belt and the South-East towards forging a political alliance ahead of the 2007 poll.

Already, one of the chief conveners of the dialogue, Danjuma, has pledged the readiness of the Middle Belt to back any credible presidential candidate from the South-East if the Igbo are able to put their house in order.

Other eminent persons involved in the dialogue are Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, the first National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Chief Solomon Lar, and the President of the pan-Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. Joe Irukwu.

The Middle Belt had been a major political ally of the north since the nation’s independence in 1960.

Sources told our correspondents that the core north was determined to preserve the unity of purpose demonstrated by northern delegates at the conference as well as extend the cooperation to the next presidential race.

The delegates had opposed the demand of their counterparts from the South-South for a substantial increase of derivation fund from the current 13 per cent.

Some northern political leaders were reportedly disturbed that a few popular figures from the Middle Belt were out to break the ranks of the entire north through false alliances.

“We know the alliances cannot stand the test of time but we strongly believe that it is important that we build on the achievement northern delegates were able to record at the conference.

“They exhibited the unity of purpose, the core tradition of the north on political issues, at the conference.

Contacted on Thursday in Kaduna on the agenda of the planned meeting, the Secretary-General of AFC, Col. Hamid Alli [rtd], simply said the meeting was meant to address the allegation that northern delegates were unduly influenced during the conference.

Meanwhile, some prominent northern politicians on Friday accused the leaders behind South-East and Middle-Belt alliance of pursing a personal agenda.

The northerners included a former Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters in the Second Republic, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bigwig, Alhaji Musa Musawa.

Yakassai, while condemning the alliance in an interview with Sunday Punch, in Kano, on Friday, said it was obvious that some people from the south were in a desperate search for a launch pad for their personal ambition to capture power.

“They think that they can form an alliance with people from the North-Central or the Middle Belt and that that will give them the platform to ascend to political power in the centre,” Yakassai argued.

“This is absolutely a wrong calculation. Of the six states that we have as the North-Central, only two have a Christian majority. These are Benue and Plateau; the rest though made up of minority tribes are largely Muslims,” he stated.

He said the political gladiators; did not realise that there was a strong affinity between Muslims in the North-Central zone and their counterparts in other parts of northern Nigeria.

He declared that if any one ignored Muslims in the North-Central, it would be at such a person’s peril because, by extension, he would be ignoring Muslims in other parts of the north.

Yakassai also argued that the alliance would not work because the South-East was in competition with the South-South in the Southern part of the country.

In other words, he said it had chosen one out of the three geo-political zones of the north, to strike an accord with, adding that the South-East would be left with just itself from the southern part and the Middle belt from the north.

“It is not only that this alliance will not work, it is also weakening the support base of whichever zone is isolating itself,” he said.

Yakassai explained that it would be wrong for anyone to judge the north based on the comments of the late Alhaji Wada Nas who said the core north felt isolated from the Obasanjo administration when he appointed Service Chiefs from the North-Central zone at the beginning of his administration in 1999.

SUNDAY PUNCH, August 07, 2005

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.