A Nigerian politician and spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed wants Nigeria’s next president to convene a National Conference within his first year in office to address fundamental issues plaguing the country.
Mr Baba-Ahmed said this on Thursday while taking part in a live television programme, Focus Nigeria, broadcast by African Independent Television and monitored by PREMIUM TIMES.
The administrations of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan convened national conferences between 2005 and 2014, respectively. The recommendations of both conferences were not implemented.
Mr Baba-Ahmed, a former Kaduna state government secretary, said previous conferences had not solved Nigeria’s problems and warned against becoming “hostages to past failures”.
“The world is not going to solve this problem for us. Fighting, arguing, cynicism about the fact that we did it before and failed is not going to solve the problem for us.
“What is going to solve the problem is to have an administration that is open and willing to let Nigerians talk about their country and have enough Nigerians come forward to say we have some ideas about how to make the country move forward,” he said. saying.
Baba-Ahmed said the problems in Nigeria went beyond the reconfiguration of security and police state.
Nigeria, he said, has to discuss and make a decision on inclusion and integration, resource allocation, wealth creation and distribution.
He pointed out that some of the issues have to go through the national and state assemblies.
“Those things, whether we like it or not, we have to sit down ideally in the first year of the next administration, call it what you want, call it a national conference, an advisory body, but Nigerians need to sit down and put Nigeria on the table. and say what is wrong with this country,” he said.
The Nigerian president needs
Baba-Ahmed said Nigerians do not want an ethnic president or a president voted in on faith.
“We don’t need a president who gets voted in because Nigerians are afraid that if they don’t vote for him the country will be over, we don’t want that kind of president,” he said.
He said that the country needs a brave president who makes decisions that may not be popular with the people.
“Do you negotiate with Boko Haram, do you negotiate with bandits, if you continue to fight them and they will fight with you, what do you do with people like Namdi Kanu, if you talk to him, if you negotiate, is there any basis? to negotiate, if there isn’t one, those decisions regarding this yes or no is right.
“We must have a president who will weather the storm, face the problems and solve them. We need the president who will insist that questions must be asked and answers found. We need a president who understands where the resources should go and where they shouldn’t,” he said.
He also said that Nigerians should pay attention to the legislature as the necessary changes that the country yearns for cannot be achieved by the president alone without going to the national and state assemblies.
“Whoever becomes president will go to the National Assembly with a majority and then at the state level the governors who have become monsters will understand the need for change and they will move and they will do it because they have their state Assemblies in their pocket,” he said. . .
Baba-Ahmed said that the Northern Elderly Forum, unlike other groups, has not yet endorsed any candidate, a move he said was deliberate.
However, he said the group would endorse a candidate before the election, as they cannot afford to leave the north “hanging”.
He said the forum was looking beyond a presidential candidate to gubernatorial and National Assembly candidates since, according to him, one person cannot change the country.
The Northern Elderly Forum supported President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and won, but worked with other groups against Buhari’s re-election in 2019, Baba-Ahmed said, adding that the forum was unable to convince other Nigerians to believe. that they would not support Mr. Buhari.
“This time we are taking precautions, we are saying be careful, don’t be quick to judge. We still have about six weeks to make a decision. We are doing a lot of good things in terms of following them and accessing what they (the candidates) are doing, what they are saying, not only at the presidential level but also at the level of governors and the National Assembly.
“We believe that governance is not just about one person and that is why we have not been quick to say that this is our candidate because one person cannot change this country,” he said.
Addressing concerns raised by some Nigerians about the electronic transmission of results, Baba-Ahmed said the Northern Elders Forum was happy with the progress made by the Independent National Electoral Commission in improving the integrity of the electoral process.
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