Political leaders comprising former and incumbent governors, ex-senators as well as business leaders met in a seminar in Lagos on Saturday to discuss issues bordering on the state of the nation.
While the highlight of the seminar tagged ‘2022 Group of Eminent Nigerians on Way Forward’ held at Eko Hotel was not made public, It was believed that issues revolving around the prevailing insecurity in the country, 2023 general elections, national unity, among others topped the agenda.
Information disclosed to Eaglesforesight was that, also, a handful of serving governors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former governors mainly from the southern part of the country as well as some influential businessmen have begun what a source called serious strategic meetings ahead of 2023 elections.
One of such meetings, Eaglesforesight learnt, was held at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, on Saturday. An impeccable source told Sunday Tribune that a series of meetings had been held at the same venue since Thursday last week.
Though the detail of the meeting were sketchy as of press time, a source said it was not unconnected with the country and permutations for the 2023 presidential election and the likely candidate to support.
It was further revealed that apart from the governors, there were about three representatives from each state of the federation at the meeting.
“We are not sure of the details, but the meeting was held. Though Eaglesforesight could not confirm the number of attendees as of the time of filing this report, information gathered by our correspondents indicated that governors across the geopolitical zones were in attendance.,” a source told Prince Lahbash.
It was also gathered that a frontline publisher based in Lagos and another prominent politician who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as chairman, board of trustees of a parastatal agency connected to education, engineered the meeting.
Governors: Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Professor Babagana Zulum, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and PDP presidential aspirant, Pius Anyim, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, ex-governors Ibikunle Amosun, Olusegun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and others were said to be in attendance.
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Tambuwal and Bagudu, who are both governors from the North-West zone, were said to have joined the meeting.
It will be recalled that governors from the South under the aegis of the Southern Governors Forum had demanded that the presidency of the country must come to the South in 2023.
While PDP has thrown open its presidential ticket to all members from all parts of the country, APC appears set to look southwards in its choice of candidate as suggested by those scheming to the national chairman of the party who are all from the North.
But the presence of Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola and others in the private sector at the meeting, according to a source, might suggest that issues about the economy could also be on the cards at the parley.
When Eaglesforesight source spoke to an ex-governor who was one of the leaders at the meeting, he confirmed the meeting, but refused to speak on what it was about.
“And you want me to divulge what we discussed at the meeting? It’s a secret meeting; I can’t make comment on it,” he said.
The country has been battling with terrorist attacks, banditry and kidnapping, which have led to thousands of killings and payment of millions of naira in ransom.
Aside from insecurity, national unity has been threatened in recent times as some regional groups had expressed intention to secede from the country.
The meeting, it was learnt, was meant to chart a course for a united Nigeria to calm frayed nerves as the race for the next year presidential election heats up.
“The seminar focussed on the state of the nation. It was a move by eminent Nigerians to discuss issues affecting the development of the country,” a source privy to the seminar tacitly told our correspondent.
Asked if the issues bordered on insecurity, national unity and the 2023 elections, the source simply said, “they may not be unconnected with those things and other related issues.”
Recall that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had hosted the 2022 committee of business, political, media and civil society leaders to a dinner in Abuja last Sunday.
The Publisher, ThisDay Newspapers, Nduka Obaigbena, who is the convener of the committee, had said the committee was aimed at defending Nigeria in a time of crisis and in a time of transition.
The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and other leaders attended the dinner.
Speaking at the event, Buhari said his regime would hand over an agriculture-led and diversified home-grown economy, stable democracy and revamped armed and security forces to the next administration.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had said, “I am gradually entering my final year in office. It is a period I intend to spend not only on consolidating on the achievements of the past seven years but also to leave a legacy for a united, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria.
“I take this initiative to mean that you all intend to collaborate with this administration in that direction. For those among you who are politicians, you must look beyond gaining power to how you can leverage public positions in the process of societal change. To the businessmen and women among you, there is great glory in public service.
“The question that should be uppermost always is: How do we leverage our business endowment for the greater good of our country? I am delighted that members of the Nigerian elite have woken up to the fact that the task of changing this society is a task for all of us, whether we are in the private or public sector. Knowing that, we have enormous challenges as a nation, but they are not beyond our capacity to overcome if we embrace a new approach.
“We cannot retreat to our ethnic cocoons, nor can we continue to seek solace in our past. We must champion the idea of a Nigeria where every citizen would be proud to call their own. That is the charge before you.”
Eaglesforesight gathered that the Saturday meeting held in Lagos was an extension of the issues discussed at the dinner.
Another reliable source, who participated in the Saturday meeting, likened the discussion to Buhari’s statement at the dinner, adding that the seminar deliberated on nation building.
He said, “Discourse around the state of the nation is a continuum. Some of the matters the President spoke about at the dinner were also raised at the seminar. Everyone is interested in making sure the country works in all aspects be it political, economic and security-wise.”
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