Those in attendance were leaders of Afenifere, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, former chairman of the Police Service Commission, among others.
• Grill Atiku on plans for Nigeria
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Niger Delta Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Yoruba socio-cultural organisation-Afenifere, and Middle Belt Forum have concluded plans to interact with President Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as other presidential aspirants, ahead of the 2019 poll.
The group met with former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in Abuja, yesterday. The meeting with Atiku took place at the Abuja home of the Ijaw leader and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark.
Those in attendance were leaders of Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwosu, Albert Horserall, Air Commodore Dan Sulieman, Yinka Odumakin, Senator Stella Omu, Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Idongesit Nkanga, Bitrus Pogu, Godknows Igali, Simon Okeke, former chairman of the Police Service Commission, Francis Okure, Banji Akintunji, Oladipo Olaitan and Mrs. Nne Nwafor, among others.
Earlier, Nwodo told newsmen that Atiku was the first presidential aspirant to appear before the Southern and Middle Belt Forum. He explained that “we have been meeting for quite sometime. Our meeting is centred on matters of national importance affecting the health of our country. One of the programmes we decided to embark on is to interact with those who have expressed desire to lead our country.
“We want to rub minds with them, to know their views about the things that are of importance to us so that by the time we conclude the interactions, we will be able to assure ourselves which of them we think will reflect our aspirations and rejig our country, to bring it to where our country men and women will like it to be.
“By sheer providence, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin Adamawa has become the first person to be with us,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, Nwodo said Atiku faced several questions on economy, security and national unity.
“We hold his utterances in high esteem and should fortune smile on him and he becomes the president of this country, we will hold him to account. However, we have not come to a conclusion yet, we are going to listen to other aspirants. He has tremendous convictions of where he wants to go and we wish him well.”
Chief Clark, on his part, said the forum will meet with other political aspirants, including president Buhari, when asked if the forum was going to invite Buhari and other aspirants.
Atiku told the leaders that he was particularly concerned about structure, unity, economy and the security of the country.
He said without interacting and exchanging views and agreeing on how best to resolve these problems with sociocultural, political and business community leaders, the country will not be able to confront all these challenges bedeviling it.
Atiku who is one of the People’s Democratic Party presidential aspirants said: “It is our responsibility both as sociocultural leaders and political leaders to engage ourselves in meaningful discuss so that together we can resolve the problems confronting this country…”