The North will not vote based on their feelings – Northern Elders

With the 2023 general election fast approaching, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said the North would be more critical about who gets support from people in the region.

The organizer of the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, made known the position of the alumni yesterday in Kaduna during the public lecture and the presentation of the 2022 book organized by the Center for Leadership Development and Research / Arewa Youth Alliance for Good Governance in collaboration with the NEF.

He said: “We will be more critical than anyone else about who wins our support. We bear the scars of the governance of a man we voted into office twice. Northern votes will also have a major impact in the 2023 election, but they will be awarded to people who are now wiser and more discerning.

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

Specifically, Abdullahi noted that northerners will not support candidates who seek to benefit from strategies aimed at deepening and exploiting Nigeria’s ethnic or religious diversity.

For the candidates who fail to convince the people that they will radically improve the quality of governance and the integrity of the leadership, they should forget about the votes of the North as Professor Abdullahi said the North will not cast a single vote for them.

He noted, “I want to take this opportunity to state that the Northern Elders Forum does not have a 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 candidate assessment criteria.

“The North wants what all Nigerians want, which is leaders who will lead with integrity, skill, compassion and the fear of God. Our hope is that all Nigerians 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 change in their current situation. We will participate in all political and electoral activities on an equal footing and with respect for 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 heavy price in the conflicts around religion in the North, and we don’t need to do more”.

“Our insecurity and the collapse of our economy do not distinguish between Christians and Muslims. We cannot ask them for solutions as Muslims or Christians. I have to say here that we are witnessing some of the most crude and unproductive campaigns to create divisions between Hausa and Fulani and to create distances between Christians and Muslims in the North.

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

Furthermore, the former National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf, has called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) to tour the country and apologize to Nigerians for their utter failure.

He said Nigeria was sinking and that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was the only candidate who could save Nigeria in 2023.

Likewise, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has urged Nigerians to put aside religious and ethnic sentiments and vote for capable candidates who can move the country forward in the face of current challenges.

CNG National Coordinator, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, made the call yesterday during the official launch of the Arewa Movement for Good Governance (AM2G) and the presentation of the AM2G charter and the book “Leadership Principles extracted from the ‘Islam and Christianity’ held at Arewa Kaduna House.

“Nigerians should forget about religion, tribe and focus on the ability and integrity of a leader who can take this country forward in the face of challenges,” he said.

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

He said, “Since the merger of this country, we have not witnessed the worst leadership in this country like the administration headed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We have been tormented by so many problems: insecurity, economy, inflation and difficulties. The division of this country has never been so strong before, now people are agitated for one thing or the other.

“President Buhari has failed miserably, we elected him with the hope that he will take this country forward but unfortunately we are witnessing something we did not expect.”

In his keynote address, Dr. Usman Bugaje urged Nigerians to stop lamenting and agonizing over their misfortunes, adding that they should instead start organizing and taking control of their destiny by learning from other societies that were once in Nigeria’s position.

“What lies ahead is huge and we need to go back to the drawing board to revamp, refocus and rearrange our priorities in order to survive and thrive.

“We must work closely with our religious and traditional institutions as guardians and symbols of our core values. They must focus on reorienting our corrupt society to realize that corruption and crime do not pay here and in the hereafter,” Bugaje said.

For his part, the Co-Executive Director of the Interfaith Mediation Center (IMC), Reverend James Marvel Wuye, urged Nigerians to vote for credible, responsible and honest candidates.

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