As more geopolitical zones take an interest in the proposed National Conference, the North has expressed its readiness to present a common front during the discourse.
Northern State Governorsâ€™ Forum (NSGF) Chairman and Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, said Wednesday in Minna that the forum had taken a position on issues to be raised at the National Conference and it would speak with one voice.
But the same may not be said of the Yorubas, as cracks have appeared among traditional rulers in the zone, with some of them opposing the idea that delegates from the area should go to the conference to demand regionalism, state police and the parliamentary form of government.
Aliyu, at an interactive session on the National Conference with major stakeholders, said northern governors, at their Monday meeting in Kaduna, had decided to send the best from the zone as delegates to the conference to champion the regionâ€™s agenda.
â€œAt our last meeting in Kaduna, we took some positions as northern governors and as states. We have some paramount issues that we want to stand on and we will present them during the National Conference.
â€œWe also resolved to send in our best delegates to the conference with lots of experience to discuss without fear or favour at the conference and the state delegates will be briefed from time to time during the conference, which would start next month,â€ he added.
He told the stakeholders that they would decide the three delegates from Niger State who will go to the conference.
â€œWe have to send our most intelligent and brilliant delegates. Two men and one woman who will not be afraid to defend the state and the North,â€ he said.
According to him, some of the issues to be discussed by the stakeholders include the structure of government in Nigeria, creation of the Office of the Controller of the Federation Account as against the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, issues about state police, legal revolution, residency and indigenisation, onshore and offshore dichotomy as well as resource control.
Aliyu also said the stakeholders would also be briefed about the decision of the Niger State Government to institute a State Commonwealth Fund, which has been set up to look at issues on how to prevent the state from facing a financial crisis.
â€œA committee has been set up to look at issues and come up with decisions on how to make sure that Niger State does not find itself in a financial straitjacket,â€ he added.
He explained that the State Commonwealth Fund would be fashioned after the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and would save money monthly no matter the economy of the state.
Meanwhile, some Yoruba traditional rulers have opposed calls by leaders from the region for regionalism, state police and the parliamentary form of government to be tabled at the National Conference.
The traditional rulers comprising the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan; Olojudu of Ojudu, Oba Sikiru Adelani; and Ahaba of Ajagba, Oba Thomas Olawale Adesayo, rejected the call for regionalism and recommended the retention of the current centralised police structure in the country.
However, apart from these monarchs, none of the foremost traditional rulers in the South-west such as the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III; Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has expressed any dissent view to the Yoruba agenda for the national conference.
According to them, the call for a regional police system would be counter-productive for the corporate existence of the country.
On the parliamentary system of government, they said the country had operated it in the past and it had negative effects on the nationâ€™s corporate existence.
The traditional rulers, in a communiquÃ© issued in Ibadan at the end of a three-hour deliberation under the aegis of Yoruba Obas Conflicts Resolution Committee, also called on the presidency to increase the number of traditional leadersâ€™ representatives from three to six for each of the six geopolitical zones.
Their position was against the backdrop of the decision by some groups in the South-west, which has coalesced under the Yoruba Assembly on the National Conference.
The coalition has championed the demand for regionalism, a decentralised police force and institution of a parliamentary system of government in Nigeria.
Secretary of the Yoruba Agenda Committee, Dr. Kunle Olajide, after a meeting in Ishara-Remo, Ogun State, had said there was no going back on the Yoruba agenda, with focus on right to self-determination and regionalism.
Olajide, at a press conference in Ibadan on Tuesday, said: â€œWe are looking at Nigeria in totality; the basis of our union and for the Yoruba insistence on a regional agenda, there is no short cut to it; it is a must. We fared better as a race under regionalism than under the present arrangement. We want a regional government comprising the existing six states in the South-west.â€