Why North won’t vote on sentiments in 2023 – Northern Elders Forum

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Thursday said the North will be more critical about who gets support of the people in the region in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

Convener of the forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi, made the elders’ position known yesterday in Kaduna during the 2022 public lecture and book presentation organised by the Centre for Leadership Development and Research/Arewa Youth Alliance for Good Governance in collaboration with NEF.

He said, “We will be more critical than all others over who wins our support. We bear scars from governance by one we substantially voted into power twice. Northern votes will make a major impact in the 2023 elections as well, but they will be cast to the people who are now wiser and more discerning.

“No candidate should therefore take our support for granted, and we state again that we will vote entirely for the candidate that convinces us that he understands our problems and will seek solutions to them with commitment, courage and conviction”.

Specifically, Abdullahi noted that the Northerners will not support candidates who seek to benefit from strategies that seek to deepen and exploit Nigeria’s ethnic or religious diversity.

For candidates that fail to convince the people that they will radically improve the quality of governance and the integrity of leaders, they should forget about votes from the North because Prof Abdullahi said the North won’t cast a single vote for them.

He noted: “I want to use this opportunity to state that the Northern Elders Forum has no candidate in this election as we speak. We plan to engage all willing candidates to discuss their plans and ideas and we have our own yardstick for assessing candidates.

“The North wants what all Nigerians want, which are leaders who will lead with integrity, competence, compassion and the fear of God. Our hope is that all Nigerians will share our vision of a country that overcomes its current fears, challenges and limitations and embarks on a journey of rediscovery.

“Northerners will not be intimidated into making choices that do not improve the chances of real changes in their current circumstances. We will participate in all political and electoral activities as equals, and with respect to other Nigerians who respect us.

“In the north, we consider attempts to create divisions and conflicts around religion as hostile acts. We have paid a high price in conflicts around religion in the North, and we do not need to do more”.

“Our insecurity and collapsing economy do not discriminate between Christians and Muslims. We cannot seek solutions from them as Muslims or Christians. I have to state here that we are witnessing some of the crudest and unproductive campaigns to create divisions between Hausa and Fulani people, and create distances between Christians and Muslims in the North.

“We warn that these contemptible attempts will fail, because they find no support in history going back into centuries, or in the recent past. While we differ in faith and ethnicity, history, geography and our experiences in living as Nigerians have created roots and bonds that cannot be destroyed by desperate political gambits”.

Also, former executive secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf, asked the All Progressives Congress (APC) to go round the country and apologise to Nigerians for their total failure.

He said Nigeria is sinking, and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the only candidate that can rescue Nigeria in 2023.

Similarly, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) urged Nigerians to forget religious and ethnic sentiments and vote for capable candidates who can move the country forward from the present challenges.

The national coordinator of CNG, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, made the call yesterday at the official launching of Arewa Movement for Good Governance (AM2G) and Presentation of AM2G Charter and the Book ‘Principles of Leadership Snippets from Islam and Christianity’ held in Arewa house Kaduna.

“Nigerians should forget about religion, tribe and concentrate on capability and the integrity of a leader who can move this country forward from the challenges,” he stated.

According to him, looking at the religion and ethnicity of a candidate will not augur well for the country.

He said, “Since the amalgamation of this country, we have not witnessed the worst leadership in this country like the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

“We have been bedeviled with so many issues: insecurity, economy, inflation and hardship. The divisiveness of this country has never been so loud like this before, now people are agitating for one thing or the other.

“President Buhari has failed woefully, we elected him with the hope that he will move this country forward but unfortunately we are seeing something we never expected”.

In his keynote address, Dr. Usman Bugaje said urged Nigerians to stop lamenting and agonizing over their woes, adding that rather, they should start organising and taking their destiny in their hands by learning from other societies that were once in Nigeria’s position.

“What is ahead of us is enormous and we need to go back to the drawing board to re-organise, re-orient and reorder our priorities in order to survive and thrive.

“We need to work closely with our religious and traditional institutions as the custodians and symbol of our core values. They need to focus on re-orientation of our corrupt society to realize that corruption and crime does not pay here and the hereafter”, Bugaje stated.

On his part, the co-executive director of Inter-faith Mediation Centre (IMC), Rev James Marvel Wuye, urged Nigerians to vote for credible, accountable and honest candidates.