BY ABDULSALAM MUHAMMAD
KANO—Northern leaders including Vice President, Namadi Sambo and three former Heads of State, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar were conspicuously absent at the peace summit organised by Northern Development Focus Initiative, NDFI, in Kano.
Also absent were the Senate President, Senator David Mark, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who were special guests of honour during the two-day peace summit.
No official reasons were given by the organisers of the event over the absence of the political bigwigs but General Muhammadu Buhari was drafted to be the chairman of the summit in the absence of General Gowon who was originally selected for the role.
The appointment of Gen. Buhari as impromptu chairman was not without some hiccups as the national leader of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, initially declined and later grudgingly accepted the offer.
The summit with theme: “Development, peace and unity as tool for enhancing socio economic and political reform in Northern Nigeria,” was aimed at discussing the multi-faceted security challenges confronting the region.
Insecurity reared its ugly head in the Northern region in 2009 following the death of an Islamist leader, Sheik Muhammad Yusuf in an uprising by his group culminating in the crippling of the socio-economic life of the region that was already bugged down by poverty and under-development.
Defending the absence of northern leaders, Senator John Kennedy Waku said, “it is too early to make a case over their absence. It is just day one of the two-day event and I want to believe they will make it”.
However, the event originally scheduled to hold at one of the popular hotels in the ancient city was held at a more secure Government House where invitees were frisked thoroughly by stern looking securitymen before being allowed inside.
The summit was largely attended by retired military officers of northern extraction, retired technocrats, some politicians and artisans.
Speakers at the summit concurred that the security challenges confronting the country has been localized as problem of people of the North East geo-political zone with little or no commitment by the government to resolve the crisis in the interest of peace and development.