As the 2023 general elections approaches, elders from the north of the country are struggling to decide who to support for president.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) members appear to be at odds with one another, which may be why they have yet to declare their preference among the four front-runners for the presidency: Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
NEF had stated in September of last year that it would expose candidates from different political parties seeking support in the north to intense questioning until they were persuaded of who had the ability to fix the country.
Speaking on the Channels Television programme “Politics Today,” the forum’s spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, remarked that the northern elders made a horrible error in 2015 when they urged the populace to support Buhari without demanding his platform.
“We will subject all candidates including Atiku, Tinubu, Obi through a rigorous process and they had better be willing because, believe me, we carry the responsibility on our shoulders to advise people in the north where to go. I am not saying this to impress anybody. We will exercise that responsibility seriously,” Baba-Ahmed had stated.
At a book launch in Kaduna earlier in September of last year, NEF Chairman Prof. Ango Abdullahi revealed the characteristics the North was looking for in a candidate for the upcoming presidential election.
He claimed that the North would not back a candidate who sought to profit from methods that took advantage of the region’s ethnic and religious diversity.
“The North will participate in all political and electoral activities as equals and with respect to other Nigerians who respect us. The North wants leaders who will lead with integrity, competence, compassion and the fear of God. We will not support a candidate that fails to convince that he will radically improve the quality of governance and the integrity of leaders. Second, Northerners will not be intimidated into making choices that do not improve the chances of real changes in their current circumstances,” Prof Abdullahi had stated.
The northern elders, however, have resisted designating their chosen presidential candidate in the 2023 elections more than four months after announcing their plans.
According to a NEF source, the elders are having trouble agreeing on a presidential candidate because of conflicts of interest.
According to the source, some forum participants who favour the North keeping the presidency are split between Kwankwaso of the NNPP and Atiku of the PDP. Kwankwaso contends that the former governor of Kano State represents the new generation of national leaders Nigerians have been longing for, in contrast to Atiku, who is seen as a representative of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
The elders of the north claimed they have not yet formed opinions about the candidates’ ability to support northern Nigeria.