The Arewa Joint Committee has joined the widespread condemnation of a comment made by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, when he said ‘Northerners don’t need Yoruba or Igbo president’ during his interface with the committee on Saturday.
The joint committee, comprising six Northern groups – Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Arewa House, Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP) and Jamiyyar Matan Arewa – while addressing a press conference yesterday in Kaduna, asked Atiku to defend himself.
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While responding to a question by the spokesman of NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba, on why he thinks the North should vote for him in 2023, Atiku responded thus, “An average northerner does not need a Yoruba or Igbo president, but a northern president who is a pan-Nigerian.”
Speaking to journalists, the Chairman of the Steering Committee, Malam Murtala Aliyu, said the same question administered to Atiku was asked other candidates.
He said every response expressed by the various candidates was solely their opinion and had nothing to do with the fundamental objectives of the joint committee.
“Atiku should clear himself. The same question asked by the committee was administered to other presidential candidates too. So, we have no business with the opinion expressed by our guests,” he said.
He said the interactions were not planned with the goal of endorsing any candidate, adding that the maiden edition only seeks to address the challenges of the North by any candidate who emerges victoriously in the forthcoming general elections.
“These interactions in themselves were not planned with the goal of endorsing a candidate. They are part of a longer process that plans to generate commitments to address the challenges of the North by candidates, and which covers a substantial part of the campaigning period.
“We plan to extract and publish these commitments so that Nigerians may measure and evaluate candidates against them.”