The leadership of northern Nigeria met in Kaduna on Friday and demanded that the leadership of the National Assembly must go to the region since the South controls both the executive and the judiciary.
The leaders, who described themselves as northern stakeholders and are drawn from the 19 northern states, converged on Arewa House, Kaduna, threatening to withdraw their support for the incoming All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Bola Tinubu if the North is not given the leadership of the National Assembly and key ministerial appointments.
The position of the region is contained in communique after a one-day roundtable on nation-building and democracy with the theme ‘The Imperative of Participation, Equity and Equitable Development of Northern Nigeria’, powered by the Democratic Research Institute (DRI).
The communique, read by Professor Tukur Muhammad-Baba, the chairman of the communique committee and Dr Benjamin Izra Dikki, secretary, says the North is not in control of the executive and the judicial arms of the government and therefore their demands are non-negotiable.
Presenting a table to buttress the body’s position, Muhammad-Baba said the percentage of votes across the six geo-political zones showed that the North-West gave total votes of 2,652,235 while the North-Central gave 1,742,993 and the North-East, 1,185,458, saying, “the total contributions of the North was 63.5 per cent.”
The communique also indicated that the South-West gave 25.7 per cent; the South-South, 9.10 per cent while the South-East delivered 1.45 per cent of the votes for the ruling APC.
The communique reads in part: “Based on the contributions of the North in the just concluded general election, as evidenced in the table above, the roundtable, which drew participants from all the nineteen Northern states, concluded that the progress, transformation and development of the region is hinged on its stake in government, particularly access to political, economic incentives and opportunities and therefore resolves as follows:
“Demand the leadership of the National Assembly in consonance with the provisions of Section 14 and sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. This is necessary because the North is not in control of both the executive and the judicial arms of government. This demand is non-negotiable.
“The North also demands fair share of ministerial and other appointments. Such appointments should take cognizance of competence, integrity and track record otherwise the region is left with no option but to de-invest its support for the government and the party in subsequent elections.”
Earlier in a welcome address, Professor Al-Mustapha Ussiju Medanar said the central objective of the roundtable was to deepen the conversations around the role of the North in strengthening Nigeria’s democracy.
He said: “For me, it is a privilege to be a participant of this preparation for an all-inclusive recognition of the place of northern Nigeria in the Nigeria calculations and the veritable focus on the equitable development of northern Nigeria.
“The theme of today’s discussion, ‘Nation Building and Democracy: The Imperative of Participation, Equity and Equitable Development of Northern Nigeria’, is key to addressing the socio-political challenges that face the contiguous northern region of Nigeria.
“The central objective of this roundtable discussion is to highlight and deepen the conversations around the roles and the place of the Northern region in strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and fostering nation building through key players and partners of the region, among others.
“I must state emphatically that the northern region of the country, constituting the North-West, North Central and the North-Eastern states, respectively, is a uniquely indispensable part of the nation, Nigeria. The region consists of approximately 68.67% of the population of Nigeria; it is the sole sustenance of the country agriculturally, and remains by providence, the major contributor to the political evolvement of the country from independence.
“The northern region has effectively engaged its diverse endowment in population and various capacities to benefit the nation in all ways possible, having been a pillar of strength on many fronts for the country.
“It is indeed my great honour to welcome all of you; the panelists, discussants and selected representatives across the states of northern Nigeria. I am confident and sure that we will have a very vibrant discussion and tailored solution for an equitable development of our dear region.
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“The decision to hold this roundtable was a response to the current political situation in the country and the preparation for the promulgation of the 10th National Assembly, particularly its leadership. The need to avoid the crisis of misrepresentation of our people and region in the distribution of rewards for political participation in the 2023 general election, most especially the presidential election and to accept a common ground to hold all political officeholders responsible for the job they are expected to carry out in the incoming administration.
“We must have it at the back of our minds as we go into the subject of our discussion that our region contributes more than any other, as a major stakeholder in the current political dispensations including the victories of the ruling party at the polls, and as such, the region would rightly deserve and ask for commensurate rewards from the spoil of the war fought.
“Democracy is an investment; vote is an investment. In democratic politics, the party with the highest votes takes it all. Our region is well aware of this, and we have invested robustly in the incoming administration. The size of our votes and the consistency of our participants across the region in what we stand for is our testament.
“Figures do not lie; of the 8,794,726 votes that gave the president-elect victory at the poll, 5,200,589, representing approximately 60 per cent, came from our region. And for every elected senators and House of Representatives members from the platform of the ruling party that won the election, the margin of difference in their votes and that of the president-elect from each constituency is minimal, an indication of total commitment to the total cause of the party, unlike some other regions.
“The North knows its problems and challenges and that is the reason why we made so much political investment as a means to get the solutions we desire for our region and our people.
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“Our region is beclouded by non-ending insecurity. From North-East to North Central and splitting to the North-West, the consequences of insecurity in all its ramification has left trails of poverty, death and displacements of people from their homes and survival.
“The poverty figure of the country placed our region as the most hit, with about 65 per cent of the population of poor Nigerians living in our region. We are mostly referred to in the academic parlance as the least educationally developed region of the country. Unemployment is at the highest in the region as well.
“At the back of all our discussion today would be the plight of our common region in the larger Nigeria entity. We must therefore take a stand on what must be done to return affirmative and commensurate dividends for our all-inclusive participation and investment in Nigeria democracy and political business. We must take a decision as a region that has an equity that is well above 60 per cent of the shared equity of the Nigeria business.
“As part of the plans for an intrinsic discussion, we would be having sectorial pre-discussions on various topical issues with regard to the northern region after which we will break into discussion syndicates.
“The panelists would arise from the syndicate meetings to make a submission of the consensus agreements from the syndicate meetings which would form the crux of the final Position paper, which is the stand of the roundtable.
“Here today, we will commence a process that will continue to strengthen the reach and take of our region without jeopardising that of others in the Nigeria entity; taking what equates to our input.
“Today, I want to hear your ideas, and frankly too. Your ideas about how to drive inclusive, equitable development of our region, because that is something that we all owe our people and what our positions have placed on us to do.”