Former military president General Ibrahim Babangida and former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar on Tuesday threw their weight around the formation of the North-central People’s Forum.
General Babangida commended the founding members of the forum for the initiative saying his day was fulfilled, while General Abubakar believed the formation of the forum was long overdue.
The two military leaders made their position known on the forum when its leadership led by the Chairman Board of Trustees, General Jeremiah Useni paid separate visits to them at their hill-top residence in Minna.
General Abdulsalami who was the first to receive the forum charged them to pursue after the development of the north-central region which according to him has witnessed a lot of setbacks due to insecurity and poor road infrastructure.
“Let me congratulate you on the thought of the forum, and forming the forum. Like one of the things you said, the purpose of the forum is to seek for peace and development of the central region of Nigeria. Indeed, this forum has been overdue, and I am glad the founding fathers and mothers have got themselves together to form this forum. The caliber of people and personnel that are in this forum, such forum will benefit from their experiences and it will galvanize you into action to achieve your aim.
“It will go a long way to minimize the disharmony between human beings first and between the amalgamation of all the tribes we have, not only in the north central but in Nigeria as a whole,” Gen. Abubakar said.
He assured them of his support and understanding in delivering the purpose of the forum. “Certainly, you have our support and understanding. We will continue to advise, to watch and steer where necessary how the forum goes,” he said.
On his part, General Babangida said the north central region occupies a strategic position in the polity of Nigeria, and should be accorded the due recognition by the central government.
“To me you have made my day. I was always complaining when I hear north-west, north-east, south-south, south-east and south-west. I kept on asking, where do we belong to? God has so blessed us with the quality and caliber of people that we have.
“Politically, in terms of votes, I found out that the North-Central zone has more votes than the whole of South-west put together. But, South-west makes more noise than north-central. We have what it takes to be recognized as a very important part of this country,” he said.
He also assured of his support to the forum.
Chairman Board of Trustees of the North-Central Forum and former Plateau South Senator, General Jeremiah Useni had earlier intimated the duo of General Babangida and Abubakar of the objective of the forum, saying it would primarily focus on uniting the people in north central and also push for the establishment of a North-Central Development Commission that would help address the challenges in the region.
Fielding questions from journalists at the end of the visit, General Useni said the support from Generals IBB and Abdulsalami had further boosted the morale of forum’s leadership.
He however explained that contrary to the misconception that the North-Central Forum was established for the purpose of breaking the north-central region away from the Arewa Consultative Forum, the region still recognized the leadership of ACF.
He also cleared the air surrounding the support by governors of north central, saying they are fully backing the initiative.
“We have the support of all the governors of the north central. I will be meeting with Chairmen of the Northern Governors’ Forum and North-Central Governors’ forum soon,” General Useni said.