Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Northern Group Strategizes On Economy, Political Power

The Arewa Research and Development Pro-ject, ARDP, is meeting in Kaduna tomorrow to inaugurate five syndicate committees that will work out a blueprint to reposition the region to compete favourably with others in areas of social and economic development.

One of the committees will be mandated specially to look at how the north will capture political power, without which the vision being developed by the group cannot be implemented as required.

The convener, Dr. Usman Bugaje, who disclosed this to Daily Trust yesterday in Abuja, said the syndicate groups include those on "security, political power, economy, social sector, and most importantly, values and leadership".

The decision, he said, is the result of intense deliberation after ARDP's first conference in early December 2012 which brought on board several northern based pressure groups to forge a common front on issues of development and politics.

"Nobody can say who will win the election but we are very clear about the fact that the north has suffered so much bashing and it is important that the north which has the number... it is democracy; but how to organise that, how to close our ranks, is something which the syndicate group on political power will have to look at," he said.

Bugaje also said the ARDP has been monitoring the marginalisation of the north in recent appointments and promotions at the federal level and has mapped out strategies to address the issue.

"We have seen a clear policy to extermi-nate or obliterate the north completely in a way that runs counter to the provisions of the constitution. We are documenting this and we are taking steps to see that those things are corrected," he said.

He said after the conference in December the ARDP and the other groups that came in, now about 11, gave two assignments. First, to look at those thrilling ideas during the conference and put them in a form that can be implemented; and to continue to bring in more and more groups that could pull resources together, close ranks and create a strong pan-northern movement that drives the implementation of the ideas.

"We are planning to have a major stakeholders' conference on the 28 of February (tomorrow) which will essentially do four or five things. First we will brief the whole gathering on what we have done so far in four meetings. Second, we will listen to the different sectors including professional groups we have identified in the north; we will listen to their contributions and their ideas.

"Then we will inaugurate syndicate groups around the five issues we have identified: security, political power, because without political power we will not be able to implement the vision we are planning in the north; economy, which include infrastructure especially power, agriculture, industry and the rest; the social sector, which include education, health and the rest of them; and most important, issues of values and leadership.

According to him, since the December conference, the ARDP has had four consul-tative meetings which realised that there are some sectors that were missing in the arrangement and made effort to bring them on board.

"They include the transport workers association, transport owners association, the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders, car dealers association, and the group of Hausa Artisans, those who act and sing Hausa songs and communicate a lot of ideas to the wider society, the association of mechanics, and the association of Acaba Riders. All these were identified and brought in.

He emphasised the independence of the group saying, "We are not the run of the mill kind of northern group that comes and positions itself for certain benefits or does some other people's bidding. That is why we took it to Arewa House which does not belong to any particular person. It is also an academic institution, which will certainly not allow itself to align with any particular personal interest,"

He said though ARDP has invited the Northern Governors' Forum, it is has made it clear that it needs no financial support from any governor.

"We have invited the northern governors' forum. Late Governor Yakowa attended and he promised us his support. Since then we have been communicating with them. They have not come out to say exactly what their position is. In any case we have made it clear that we do not need any financial support from any governor. This is to keep our independence and let everybody know that we are not going to do anybody's bidding," he said.

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