By Adeniyi Adekunle/TnTv Network
Prominent Nigerians across the North Central geo-political zone of the country has officially flagged the North Central People’s Forum (NCPF) on Wednesday in Abuja. As part of efforts aimed at addressing various socio-economic and political challenges facing the region.
Speaking at the unveiling of the group, Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Lt. General Jeremiah Useni (rtd)
who doubles as NCPF Chairman of Board of Trustees, (BoT), expressing satisfaction at the (NCPF) launch, said the existence of these administrative sub-divisions had led to the group affinity and solidarity among the states in a particular geo-political zone.
He expressed optimism that the Forum would unite the people of Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in its quest to ensure that palpable peace and stability is established and sustained within the zone; pursue rapid industrialisation across all nooks and crannies of the zone as well as pursue policies and process that would ensure that the massive solid mineral and agricultural endowments were adequately harnessed.
According to him, “the Forum is also aimed at ensuring cooperation and support the good policies and administration of the six governors of the zone irrespective of our political, religious and ethnic differences; support and cooperate fully with the Federal Government for full and complete implementation of infrastructures, development projects situated in the zone and involvement of the people of the zone in the National affairs of the country and promote, defend and strengthen North Central unity and interest of its people in the context of one indivisible Nigeria and to contribute in safeguarding her territorial integrity.
“Consequently, every zone now have a common socio-political platform where they meet to discuss their strength and weakness with the view to propounding and promoting progress and development of the zone. It is therefore in this context that the South-South People’s Assembly and the South-South Elder’s Forum were formed to champion the common cause of the South-South people and draw Federal Government attention to the perceived problems facing the people of their zone
“It is in a similar vein that the South-West Zone of Nigeria established the Afenifere Group, a Yoruba socio-political organization that is constantly being used to draw Federal Government attention to their common challenges. The South-East people of Nigeria have the Ohaneze Indigbo as their own socio-political platform for mobilising their people to actualise political and economic objectives that may attract positive development to their zone.
“Recently, the people of North-East floated a body called the North- East Elder’s Forum for the attainment of similar objectives who succeeded in getting the North-East Commission approved by the Federal Government. It is in the light of the foregoing that it becomes imperative and pertinent for us as a zone to rise to the challenges and launch our own geopolitical platform from where we can draw the attention of relevant authorities on the need to address various socio-economic, political and securities challenges ravaging our zone”.
While commending all the governors across the Zone for their efforts in rising to their responsibilities in defending the people of their various states against the insurgency, kidnapping and other various crimes affecting the Zone, Gen Useni pledged the Forum’s support towards achieving the desired peace in their various states.
To this end, he urged all the parties to “bury our individual, political, religious and ethnic differences and unite and cooperate with each other for the development and progress of our people in the zone.
“Those of you who are present here today should consider yourself as the voice and true representative of your people whom they have known to have at one time or the other represented them fully at various level;
” Therefore, no sacrifice will be too much on our side to give the people of the zone the peace and development they desire from us as their leaders”.
In his remarks, Arc. Yakubu Aduku, NCPF Pro-Tem Chairman, who observed that NCPF was an “age-long dream” explained that the Zone was made up of a population of over 25 million people, spread across 71 tribes, with numerous varied spoken languages.
According to him, “the socio-cultural, political and economic diversities of the Zone simulate it as a microcosm of the macrocosm known as Nigeria. It’s extremely rich human and mineral resources make this Zone a unique divine arrangement for immense prosperity, development and leadership within the Nigeria Federation
” Its immense human resource capital has undoubtedly announced the citizens of the zone for excellence and impact. Sadly, however, in spite of its enormous solid, liquid minerals and natural endowments, commercial fishing, farming and agro-allied activities, as well as the massive intellectual human resources, the Zone has become a sleeping giant, good enough only for political exploitation and exploration by its “patrons” and vote seekers
“Within this giant, painfully lie its great potentials, including several dormant projects, factories, industries and untapped natural and human resources; within this, also lie sleeping great voices and docile interests and aspirations. This irony of the absurd should not be allowed to thrive any longer.
The North Central Peoples’ Forum has chosen to rise to the occasion and the challenges
“It has come to ensure the effective aggregation, promotion and actualization of dormant and latent interests and potentials of the zone. It has come to give momentum and expression to voices of giants of the zone that have become silent, weak and inaudible
“The Zone hosts strategic industries, such as the Ajaokuta steel plant, the Iron Ore Processing Plant at Itakpe, the Obajana and Benue Cement facilities, the Bacita Sugar Processing Plant and Jebba Paper Mill and several others, all of which have become challenged.
“Apart from being a solid mineral belt, with a network of inland ports to Baro, Lokoja, Ajaokuta and Idah, the Rivers Niger and Benue have also put the Zone at a strategic These rivers have been neglected, abused, ignored and serving independent Nigeria as it did for the Royal Niger Company (RNC) of Pre-independent Nigeria. Unfortunately and painfully, budgetary arrangements for dredging these rivers in order to make them fulfil their expected, commercial and developmental strategic roles have met frustrations and failures.”
He also lamented that: “In the face of all the above great endowments and potentials, which should have made the Zone both political, economic and socio-cultural hub of Nigeria, it is unfortunately bedevilled by security and developmental challenges of unprecedented dimensions.
In terms of insecurity, it is an incontrovertible fact that almost in all states of the zone are people being killed and kidnapped regularly. Lives within the zone have ceased to be scared
“The leaders of the North Central People’s Forum are no longer interested in the unending theories about the killings, but that they must stop. These have thus made our dear giant an endangered specie amongst the comity of the six geopolitical zones of the federation”.
Some of those present at the inauguration is Col. David Bamigboye (rtd) former Military Administrator of Kwara State, Chief Olusola Akomode, former Deputy Chief of staff, Presidency, Nda “h Isaiah, Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Alhaji Tajudeen Kareem, Media Consultant, Ambassador Ahmed Musa Ibeto, former deputy governor of Niger State, Chief Stephen Lawani and Alhaji Alfa Mohammed amigos others