National Confab in North’s Interest, Says Aliyu •Wants former VP Atiku to unify North  •Baraje group plans fresh strategy

Governor of Niger State and Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, has said the national dialogue being planned by the federal government is in the interests of the North and the region would participate actively in the discussions.
Aliyu said this Saturday in Yola after his coronation as Bauran Adamawa by the Lamido of Adamawa, His Royal Highness, Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustapha.
Aliyu’s comments came as promoters of the New Peoples Democratic Party, a splinter group within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, a key member of which he is, continued at the weekend to plan new strategies to remain in political contention against all odds.
A Federal High Court on Friday in Abuja ruled against the Abubakar Bugaje-led  New PDP, saying that the party led by Bamanga Tukur is the one “recognised by law.”
The ruling came barely two week after a high court in Lagos had declined jurisdiction in a suit by  New PDP seeking to be recognised as the authentic PDP, with the Independent National Electoral Commission recognising the Tukur-led PDP.
The Niger State governor spoke against the backdrop of positions taken by some northern groups and individuals to boycott the national dialogue announced by President Goodluck Jonathan in his Independence Day speech on October 1. The President had said the dialogue was in response to popular agitation for a national forum to resolve “issues that stoke tension and bring about friction” in the country.
But Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State said soon after the announcement that his state would not send delegates to the conference, just as groups and individuals, particularly, in the northern parts of the country questioned the rationale for the talks. Some alleged it was a ploy by Jonathan to negotiate a second term for himself.
But speaking in Yola, Aliyu said the North was not afraid of the proposed national conference, stressing that it is, in fact, in the interest of the region.
“As the chairman of the northern governors’ forum, I believe the convocation of national conference is in the interest of the North. We are awaiting it, coming without any fear, as we believe the North will be the better for it,” Aliyu said.
He called on all the northern governors to prepare for the conference so that the region would be well represented and issues affecting it adequately captured and articulated at the talks.
“I enjoin all northern governors and the elite to fully prepare and mobilise their people for full participation so that the concerns of the North can be fully captured.
“We should make sure that we produce the names of our best 11 in order to discuss issues without fear,” the governor said.
Aliyu said dialogue was an essential ingredient of peace in the country.
According to him, “Unity cannot be achieved if justice and fair play is not entrenched in our psyche. Therefore, the national conference is a good avenue for people to sit together and discuss their common problems.”
Aliyu also advocated constitutional responsibilities for the traditional institution, saying it plays a significant role in the unity of the country.
The governor blamed the PDP crisis, which culminated in the emergence of New PDP, on highhandedness and undemocratic attitudes of some members of the party who placed their personal interests above the collective interest of country.
Some state delegates, including seven governors, led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, had walked out of the PDP convention on August 31 to form New PDP. The governors, besides Aliyu, are Lamido (Jigawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano).
Aliyu called on his six other colleagues to remain steadfast in the face of all the intimidations in the course of their fight for justice. He said their struggle was for the interest of the whole country, as, “Whatever happens in PDP will surely affect Nigeria because it is the ruling party and following the drift in the party we, the concerned members, felt that we must make sacrifices in order to restore equity, justice and fair play in the polity.”
He described Atiku as a true democrat and lauded his role in attempts to streamline the ruling party, saying the former vice president should provide leadership for the North and unify the region.
“I want to articulate my earlier appeal in Sokoto where I called on you to help us unify and unite northern brethren to ensure that we have one northern entity devoid of primordial sentiments and differences,” Aliyu told Atiku. “We need unity, peace and mutual understanding with sense of responsibility. We need unity in our country.”
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the recent unfavourable decisions of INEC and the courts, especially the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Elvis Chukwu, on Friday, sources were reliably informed that Atiku, Nyako, and Aliyu met Friday night in Yola to plan the next steps for New PDP.
The source said Lamido could not attend the meeting because he had just returned from the hajj.
According to sources, the meeting had three options on the table: “One, to remain in the mainstream PDP and embrace reconciliation, two, appeal the judgement of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Chukwu till the matter is finally resolved by the Supreme Court, and three, consider joining the Peoples Democratic Movement and use it as an option for negotiation with the All Progressive Congress.”
Sources gathered that one of the resolutions of the meeting was to call an enlarged meeting of New PDP next week to decide on what to do. The attendees were said to have thought that the latest court decision barring  New PDP members from parading themselves as officers of PDP was too haste and the issues in the crisis had not been fully tabled before the court.
“This is why the New PDP believe that they will appeal the ruling of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Chukwu. By our decision to appeal, it is expected in law that the status quo will continue to prevail,” the source said.

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