The Northern Elders Forum has called on northerners across Nigeria to vote for a presidential candidate and other individuals vying for elective national offices sensitive to the “needs” of the North.
NEF expressed its commitment to patriotism and mobilisation of the region to participate in national and economic development effectively.
The forum made the declaration during the General Assembly and Commemoration of its 10th anniversary on Wednesday in Abuja.
The convener of the forum, Ango Abdullahi, said despite minor differences which have unavoidably existed among northern groups, their common commitment to the core interests of the North had never been in doubt.
“We, the General Assembly of the NEF, are patriotic citizens of Nigeria bound by history, geography, shared experience and common circumstances of existence in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are aware of our common values, diversity in faith, demography, cultures, political interests and conscious of the roles our region plays in the history of Nigeria,” said Mr Abdullahi. “We are committed to reversing the decline in the fortunes of our region and improving its standing in relationships with the rest of the country.”
Mr Abdullahi added, “We, therefore, pledge to organise fellow Northerners to work in search of committed leadership with integrity, competence and compassion to find solutions to our multiple problems.”
The NEF chieftain noted that the group would “collaborate with other Nigerians to create a united country of people characterised by diversity and sensitivity to values of justice and respect for the rights of all citizens.
“We shall also encourage Northerners to participate fully in the 2023 elections and elect people who are sensitive to our needs,” Mr Abdullahi added.
According to him, NEF has resolved to support credible elections and a peaceful transition to the next elected administration and resist any attempt to subvert Nigeria’s democratic system by any unconstitutional means.
He added that the forum would also respect the popular will expressed by credible elections, irrespective of the origin and identity of the winner.
“We shall also support the next administration to address major challenges that inhibit the growth, development, peace and security of the North and Nigeria in general. We shall engage the rest of Nigeria as respected equals and continue to demand that the rights of Northerners will not be abused, sacrificed or neglected by any government or group,” Mr Abdullahi noted.
Mr Abdullahi expressed NEF’s high regard for leaders of other groups from the North, Christian and Muslim clergy, and the elite who have also been tireless in ensuring that the northerners are not shortchanged.
“Our response to threats that certain parts of the country will be locked down and out of the elections is that this is a threat to all Nigerians. We demand that the government of President Buhari and all other leaders and elders must call out this dangerous bluff,” the NEF chieftain stressed. “Those who say they will not accept credible results from the elections unless their candidates win represent threats to national security and should be treated as such.”