By Dirisu Yakubu
They are not a partisan political organization but an assembly of politically-conscious leaders all the same. The Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly (NLSA), a group peopled by men and women of northern extraction and who have played in the big league, politically, is currently on a mission they say is to save the North in particular and Nigeria in general.
Leader of the group, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, despite his age, has taken upon himself to make NLSA arguably the most visible northern political pressure group in the country today.
Having earlier visited former President Shehu Shagari, erstwhile military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, ex-former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and immediate past Vice President, Namadi Sambo; the group is set to take its message of political and economic salvation to other northern notable leaders in the weeks ahead.
Prominent in the yearning of this group, Saturday Vanguard gathered, is the identification of a leader from the northern zone who is prepared to tackle headlong, the challenges of economic and educational backwardness in the region.
A member of NLSA who confided in this medium said there is nothing wrong if it succeed in helping the north to vote massively for a President who will not shy away from the problems in the country particularly in the north.
“It is clear, as broad day light, that we are moving in the right direction.
We are worried at the rate of mutual distrust in the country today and of course, poverty in the north is something we believe must be dealt with as soon as possible. So, we are in touch with our leaders from the north and when we are done at home, we will go to the South to brief them on ways we think this entity called Nigeria can be better for all of us,” he said.
When asked if this was all about 2019, he chuckled, saying the present as well as the future matter to the group. “People see 2019 from the lens of the general elections only but it is a year with twelve calendar months like any other.
Are we concerned about 2019? Yes and No! Yes, because we are Nigerians and want the very best for the country. No, because we are not going to be directly involved. We are not the Independent National Electoral Commission but we will vote individually and encourage others to do same,” he stated, evasively.
Findings by this medium however reveal that the group is working hard to convince critical stakeholders in the north to do away with parochial considerations in deciding whom to support during the elections. Job creation, economic empowerment and skills acquisition for the teeming army of youths in the north are some of the commitments the group wants to extract from whomever it may settle for.
So, what if all Presidential aspirants pledge to do all these and even more, this medium asked to which he responded. “That is where diligence will come to play. We will look at the aspirant’s antecedents and how he responded to those challenges when he had the opportunity. You cannot give what you don’t have and so, we will cross the bridge when we get to it.
NLSA is relying on the support of similar groups in the South to make a bold statement in 2019 with a promise of repaying the favour when the big political parties zone the Presidential ticket to the South.
ADC, CNM, others in coalition talks to oust APC
In a bid to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and inflict defeat on its likely Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general elections, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) recently dissolved into the African Democratic Congress (ADC). The man behind the formation of CNM, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is bent on ensuring that Buhari retires to Daura in 2019.
Only recently, Obasanjo’s ally and former governor of Osun State, Brigadier General Olagunsoye Oyinlola (retd) quit the ruling party, in readiness for a role in the grand alliance for the 2019 battle.
Findings reveal that the coalition is in talks with other groups as well as disgruntled members of the Nationally Assembly, with promises of juicy offers too tempting to let pass. Apart from this, agents of this new marriage are also said to have held talks with former members of the PDP, nPDP who recently expressed displeasure at the manner they have been treated despite helping the APC to win the 2015 elections at the centre.
A source privy to these secret talks told us: “We want to come together to fight a common cause. Call it a common enemy and you won’t be wrong. But unlike the merger that produced the APC, ours is one of honour. Every party will have its interest protected and no party would be too little to be neglected. We will have our agreement written out and duly signed and every party will keep its copy,” he said.
In this arrangement, one party is expected to produce the Presidential Candidate while another will produce the Vice President and so on. Already, Obasanjo is said to be talking to a popular Presidential contender from opposition party to join his new platform with an offer of the Presidential ticket.
Should things go as planned, the source said it would be almost impossible for Buhari to retain power beyond 2019.