ANGO ABDULLAHI -- CHAIRMAN, NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM

EXPLOITING RELIGION, ethnicity and sentiments, as strategy, to win 2023 elections in Nigeria, by the contesting political parties and their candidates, will not earn the candidates the voting support from Nigeria’s northern region. Ango Abdullahi, Chairman, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, at a Book launch, Thursday, in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, said the zone will support only leaders with integrity, competence, compassion and the fear of God.

The north, Abdullahi said, will be more critical about the region’s support for 2023 elections. His words: “We will not support a candidate that fails to convince that he will radically improve the quality of governance and the integrity of leaders.”  He said the region has borne the brunt of religious and ethnic conflict, and has had enough.

Apparently referring to what analysts noted could be the Buhari’s administration, Abdullahi said the region currently carried scars of a leader it substantially voted into office, twice, and had learnt its lesson. He said the north would participate in all political and electoral activities as equals with other Nigerians.  But the north will not be intimidated into making choices that would not impact real changes in the region’s current circumstances. The region is presently devastated and malfunctioning due to insecurity.

Abdullahi said the region paid high price in conflicts around religion in the north, and needed caution in the choice of leaders ahead of 2023 elections.  He said insecurity and collapsing economy do not discriminate between Christians and Muslims. And solutions cannot be sought on the basis of Muslims or Christians.  He said the region was witnessing some of the “crudest” and most “unproductive campaigns” to divide Hausa and Fulani people; and create distances between Christians and Muslims in the north.

ATIKU ABUBAKAR, BOLA TINUBU AND PETER OBI

ANALYSTS SEE ABDULLAHI’S statement as reflective, of the national controversy that has trailed the emergence of Tinubu-Shettima presidential ticket – both Muslims, as strategy, for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to win the 2023 elections. The religious divide in Nigeria’s politics, unprecedentedly, widened, since the announcement of APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Abdullahi’s words: “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.

“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.”

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