Chairman, Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, says the people of the north will not vote along ethnic and religious lines in 2023 because they have learnt their lesson at a great cost.
Speaking at the Northern People’s Summit in Kaduna on Wednesday, Abdullahi warned politicians from the region that they do not have any guarantee that the people will vote for them in the next general election.
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Abdullahi, who was represented by the spokesman of NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, added that, experiences have taught the region the values of critical scrutiny of records, dispositions and empathy.
The NEF chairman said politicians that will be voted for must have the socio-economic development plans, adding that those who care for the people before, during and after election will have the votes.
“No Northerner should assume that he is guaranteed the support and votes of Northerners simply because he is one of them.”
“The North must think out of the box and elect new sets of leaders who will do a lot better than the current ones.
North has supported three southern presidents
“Northern voters have supported three southerners – Abiola, Obasanjo and Jonathan – to victory in the past, two of them against Northerners. Northern voters are enlightened and conscious of their responsibilities. They have learnt, perhaps at greater cost than most Nigerians, that ethnicity and faith alone do not make good leaders. They will not accept to be further weakened so that they abandon the same rights all Nigerians enjoy.
“Those politicians who want Northerners to vote in a particular manner should soil their boots and convince Northerners how their candidates will improve security, economy and society in the North and the country.”
On the agitation for secession, Prof Abdullahi advised those agitating for Nigerians to go their separate ways to have rethink.
Secession is not the solution
He said secession is not the solution to any grievance, just as he called on the federal government to take threat of the separatists with all the seriousness it deserves.
“Using restructuring as a threat or bargaining tool for accepting zoning will destroy the imperatives of restructuring and imperil the country.”
“Politicians and leaders who desire to lead need to understand that Nigerians are watching what they do in their immediate constituencies that will entitle them to ask for our support. We should speak frankly and directly to the rest of Nigeria on this issue.
“Politicians who cannot impose their influence on irredentist that threaten our corporate existence and the lives and livelihoods of our fellow Northerners stand on very thin ground in our estimation. Politicians who cannot or will not influence public sentiment which demonises our fellow Northerners and leaves them open to attack will not weigh much in our consideration as leaders under whom we will feel safe and secure.
“The North has paid a huge price for the survival and unity of Nigeria, and will continue to support this survival and unity to the degree that it serves everyone’s interests. We are naturally worried over alarming rhetorics suggesting serious elite polarization and failure of the state to address basic elements that guarantee our co-existence.
“The North has its issues with Nigeria, but we believe they will be best addressed by Nigerians agreeing to collaborate and find solutions to them, as well as those of other regions. The world, however, will not stop our decline into irretrievable disaster unless we do the most basic pushing ourselves.
“Our leaders must improve their responses to our problems. If they will not, citizens should improve collaboration to limit the damage of their limitations. We must think out of the box and elect new sets of leaders who will do a lot better than the current ones”.
He prayed that the summit will expose the wisdom of adopting new or better approaches to dealing with problems of the North.