The Northern Eldersâ€™ Forum (NEF) has warned delegates to the National Conference to stage a walkout whenever it becomes clear that Nigerian interest is at stake.
The forum also advised the northern delegates to avoid voting on any issue raised, particularly in view of the possibility that majorities are likely to be contrived from skewed composition of partisan interest.
A communiquÃ© issued after the two-day meeting in Kano, which was read by Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed yesterday, demanded that obvious imbalance in representation between geo-political zones, religious and other interests be redressed before the conference commences any business.
The forum in the communiquÃ© declared that: â€œWith regards to decision making, delegates are to seek and achieve full consensus on issues and submit all positions and opinions to the federal government.
â€œThe conference agenda is carefully chosen so that issues which may further threaten our peace, security, harmonious co-existence, the 2015 elections or which may offend the provision of the constitution are avoided.â€
The communiquÃ© further noted that the composition of the delegation to the conference represents a serious indictment on the administrationâ€™s plan to organise a conference that would address the complex problems of the nation.
According to the forum, a conference built on a foundation of injustice and contempt for all known values which is assuring all citizens that it is not designed to weaken them will not produce any conclusions that are useful.
â€œThe federal government failed to provide immediate end to the violence in the North-east region and in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna State. The communities left with the only option of taking steps to protect themselves,â€ the forum said.
The communiquÃ© also resolved to demand that the federal government improve its capacity to protect citizens in the North-east region and many other parts of the North as the most minimal evidence that it is serious about its responsibilities.
Also speaking at the event, the presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has said the security and socio-economic challenges bedevilling the northern part of the country are reflection of the dire condition of Nigeria as country.
â€œThe story of the Northâ€™s deterioration is a replica of Nigeriaâ€™s story. Searching for solutions to these challenges also means groping for the ropes to a better future for our dear country.
â€œI am a believer in the unity of Nigeria under which we are a federating unit with 72 per cent of the total landmass and more than half of the population, according to the 2006 headcount,â€ he said.
Ribadu blamed, said the failure of strong leadership, unity and strategic planning are some of the issues responsible for the failure of the region and Nigeria to rise behind their current status.
â€œAs such, we have to first situate ourselves within the larger prism of the country. As part of a federal system, the North can legitimately articulate its own philosophy and tools for development as some people within the nation have done,â€ he said.
The former Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) chairman explained that there was the need for deep introspection and self-cleansing in efforts to find solutions to the problems, adding that as Northerners, â€œWe must first put our house in order before pointing accusing finger at someone for trespass.
â€œPutting this house in order means getting our acts together; it means cleaning ourselves of the quicklime that keep us in a standing position without any movement.â€
Ribadu noted that â€œto achieve whatever agenda is for the North, we must first integrate ourselves fully into the Nigerian entity and the world as it is in this 21st century. In this journey we are making, we have to continue to evaluate and from time to time, shake up or shake off practices, norms and dogmas that hinder our progress.â€
According to him, the challenges facing the North could be turn into positives if leaders and people of the region decide to draw lessons from the misfortunes and work on solving important questions of development.
â€œYes, we are in difficult times, but I see opportunities in our difficulty. A lot of places have gone under such difficulties but with much introspection and self-cleansing, they emerge out of it stronger. Hard time, it is said, is like the washing machine; it twists, turns and knocks you around but it makes you come out clean. Nothing ever goes without teaching us something to learn.â€
On the current insurgency ravaging parts of the North, Ribadu said it was part of a global phenomenon afflicting countries with majority Muslim population such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan, â€œhowever, it is the ability of the constituted authorities to manage it and successfully contain it that differentiate ours from what happens elsewhere.â€
Ribadu added that the escalation of the campaign of violence was due to â€œhaving in place incompetent system and institutions that do not take any proactive step. A quality leadership is the one that recognises a problem even before it becomes an emergency. This insurgency therefore thrives due to disaster of a leadership that failed to detect a problem, tackle it and solve it even before it goes out of handâ€.
For an end to challenges facing the North and Nigeria, Ribadu prescribed having â€œcompetent and responsible leadership that will unite the people, not polarise the people along ethnic and religious lines.â€
He said Nigeria needs â€œa competent leadership that can have the courage and sincerity to confront our major predicaments head on. Such leadership must also have the audacity to expunge corruption from our system which is responsible for majority of the challenges we are complaining of today.â€