By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, Political Editor
LAGOS — THE Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, was, yesterday, holding back from a formal endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan on account of last minute delay in the submission of the report of a joint committee bridging differences between both parties.
Vanguard gathered that the report is expected to clearly bind President Jonathan to a single presidential tenure. The report is equally expected to redefine the present zoning arrangement in the country.
NPLF members, it was learnt, were miffed that the report of the joint committee was yet to be submitted at press time, almost twenty four hours after the Sunday night deadline agreed between President Jonathan and the NPLF during their breakthrough meeting, weekend.
Last minute bureaucratic hindrances
Associates of the President were, nevertheless, hopeful of an agreement as they cited last minute bureaucratic hindrances in the realization of the much expected agreement.
The NPLF was equally concerned that the group may have been boxed into a corner since it opened up negotiations with President Jonathan through his emissary, Chief Tony Anenih, the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Ciroma and other NPLF members, it was learnt, are concerned about the limited options available to them since none of the other major Northern presidential candidates, Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; and Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, are in their good books.
President Jonathan had met Mallam Ciroma and other leaders of the NPLF at Ciroma’s residence in Abuja for about two hours, weekend. During the meeting both sides constituted a seven-man joint committee to articulate the framework of an agreement for both sides to work together.
The joint committee has three members from each side and a chairman from the PDP.
The meeting at Ciroma’s residence was the first known face to face meeting between President Jonathan on one side and either Ciroma or Atiku Abubakar, since last month’s PDP presidential primaries.
Jonathan was escorted to the meeting by Vice-President Nnamadi Sambo, Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe; Principal Secretary, Hassan Tukur; Acting Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bello Halliru Mohammed; Anenih and a number of other aides and officials.
The NPLF was represented by Ciroma, Atiku, erstwhile National Security Adviser, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, among others. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), was absent as he was said to have travelled out of the country.
An NPLF source told Vanguard: “We met at his request. We honoured him as the President. Our only condition was that he should meet us at the Chairman, Mallam Adamu Ciroma’s house. He told us his request and we informed him that we will refer it to a larger body – the G15 and the NPLF.”
The NPLF was understood to have listed five issues including zoning and the matter of a single tenure as issues that must be addressed in the report. It was also learnt that other issues including the accommodation of the political interests of the NPLF members would be addressed by the President.
Atiku, Babangida and Gusau, it was learnt, would also make nominations into the Presidential Campaign Council of the President.
Aides of the President were, nevertheless, hopeful, yesterday, as they assured that the negotiations were ongoing with a pledge that the President would not pull back from the process.