Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa of Kaduna State yesterday urged northern leaders to desist from encouraging religious and ethnic intolerance among the people of the region.
Speaking at the conference, he said northerner leaders must work hard to transform the mindset of an average northerner and guide it into positive channels.
"The search for sustainable development is more comprehensive and better achieved in an atmosphere of democracy and by democrats. Sustainable development is the bedrock for consolidating our democratic enterprise in an atmosphere of freedom and in appreciating our diversity as a people in a nation. As people's servants elected with responsibilities that are accountable before man and God, we are committed to working assiduously to ensure that sound democratic principles are upheld in the country.
"We must give credit to Nigerians and to God that Nigeria still remains a country, albeit beleaguered by towering insecurity challenges. In this difficult time, we must work assiduously to adequately address the tolerance level among our people, if we must succeed collectively. Nigeria, as a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse people, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups, cannot continue to behave as a group of irreconcilable religious and ethnic nationalities, contrary to the 'One North One People' bequeathed to us by no other than the late Sardauna, Ahmadu Bello.
"The North has been a catalyst for the unity, stability and development of the country. The country has been relying for direction from the North. This is contrary to what some out there would want the world to believe about the North. History has shown that the unity and strength of the North, with a collective sense of purpose and focus has been the bastion for the unity and strength of Nigeria. We must do everything to sustain this responsibility bestowed on us by providence," he said.