I have great pleasure in welcoming Your Excellences and participants to this historic Summit. Organizers of this Summit, which includes all participants in this great hall are grateful to Allah for the opportunity to lower barriers between Northerners, and between the people and their leaders, so that we can all own our problems and collectively seek solutions for them. I salute the statesmanship of leaders and members of many groups as well as many Northerners who are not associated with any group for accepting to collaborate in this historic Summit.
I am particularly glad that many groups and individuals here had extended a positive hand to our Governors in the North, as much to assure them of our desire to work together, as well as remind them of the burden which circumstances at this particular junction of our history have created for their leadership. I have no doubt that this Summit will register the type of impact a gathering of leaders, elders and committed Northerners will generate. These remarks represent my personal opinions, since this Summit will undertake its own evaluation of the circumstances of the situation under which Northerners live in Nigeria today, and arrive at its own conclusions. I pray that God will bless our intentions, and guide our deliberations and conclusions.
The massive support behind this Summit is evidence of renewed commitment to deploy the entire assets of our region behind an exercise that critically analyses the nature of our challenges and collectively work to resolve them. Northerners are not new to problems. Indeed, our basic DNA as Northerners in Nigeria is structured around dealing with problems, and the challenges we face today have deep roots in our history and the contemporary contexts of our existence. Our presence in these hallowed grounds which bear testimony to our sacrifices and our strengths is evidence of the reality that the North never gives up on what it believes in. We may falter and make poor choices; we may take our strengths and weaknesses for granted on occasions; we may be guilty of accommodating adversaries and confusing our friends, but the North never stays on its knees. By the grace of God, and the determination of our people in the North not to leave today’s problems as legacies to future generations, we will survive our current difficulties, and our people will know peace, security, unity and prosperity.
We chose to hold this Summit at Arewa House because it is a symbol of what defines us as Northerners. It captures the realities of our journey in Nigeria as a people, from the creation of the country to date. It embodies powerful lessons in the history of the role of our communities in the North in the building of a country put together by the force of colonization. This House is where we are reminded of the indelible contributions of our resources as Northerners, which built resources of other Nigerians in colonial days.
These premises remind us of strong leaders who stood stoutly and successfully against bullying and intimidation by other Nigerians. They remind us of the values of protecting what is ours; the vision which guided politics and policies that built our human capital, our economic and social infrastructure and our hopes that we could compete well and live peacefully in a united country with other Nigerians.
These buildings witnessed the murder of our leaders and a new democratic system which we Northerners helped build. They remind us of tragic events that followed the misadventures of early 1966; the heroic role of the North in salvaging the country from bigger disasters; the hundreds of thousands of Northern lives and limbs sacrificed to preserve an imperfect country, but one, nonetheless, that needed to be salvaged from short-sighted adventurers and opportunists. These buildings bear a sad testimony to the fragmentation of the North from a region put together b