Professor Ango Abdullahi, the National Chairman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has said the north would not support any candidate based on clannish sentiments or someone who seeks to exploit the region’s ethnic and religious diversity.
Speaking at a book launch on Thursday in Kaduna, against the backdrop of next year’s general election, Abdullahi said the north would only support leaders with integrity, competence, compassion, and the fear of God. He said the region currently carried scars of the one it substantially voted into office twice and had, therefore, learnt its lesson.
Abdullahi said the north would participate in all political and electoral activities as equals with other Nigerians, who respected them.
He stated, “We will not support a candidate that fails to convince that he will radically improve the quality of governance and the integrity of leaders. Second, 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 concerning other Nigerians, who respect us.”
Abdullahi added, “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 most 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 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.”
According to Abdullahi, the north would be more critical than all other regions about who wins its support, because, “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 by people who are now wiser and more discerning.”