The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that people from the North will not vote along religious and ethnic lines in the 2023 presidential election.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the spokesman for NEF, disclosed this while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
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While disclosing that the North already has an idea of who the next president should be, he said the people of the area will not consider the religion or ethnicity of the candidate to vote for come 2023 but his ability to solve the problems of the region.
Baba-Ahmed said NEF would support a southerner if it is convinced that he will solve the problems of the Northern people.
He said: “We have ideas about what the next president should look like, what is important for the next administration.
“First of all, we need to secure the country. Secondly, we need to ask basic questions about why the economy is failing and what they intend to do. Then, we want to ask what their plans are or what their thinking is about all the clamour for restructuring.
“We want to ask what their plans are for education, particularly the out-of-school children in the northern part of the country.
“What he intends to do in terms of satisfying us that he has the mental capacity, the physical capacity, the intellect, the willingness to tap into the best and the brightest brains available, sensitivity to a number of key issues that are central to our survival as a country.
“Those things are going to represent for us the basis upon which we will support a candidate.”
While reacting to the insinuation that the north will not support a southern candidate, he said, “at this stage, our options are open, we will not vote on narrow prisms like ‘where he comes from.’
“We have not said we will only support a northern candidate. What we said is we will defend the rights of the northerners to compete freely and equally with others.
“We will support a northerner if we think he’s the best. We will support a southerner if we believe that he is the best to do justice to the interest of the north as well as the other parts of the country. What is important to note here is that we are looking for the best.”
The NEF secretary said the North would not repeat the past mistake in their choice of the next Nigerian president.
“Three days ago, I attended a very important meeting in Kaduna involving five very important groups. The idea is to design a template that includes the issue of our security, economy, education, and co-existence of Nigerians and then interrogate our presidential candidates very seriously in terms of their thinking and what they plan to do.
“This time, I don’t know what the other parts of the country are doing but the North is not just going to vote for any candidate unless we are satisfied that he has done some serious thinking about what to do about this country,” he said.