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General News of Thursday, 19 January 2023


Why Northern Elders Forum is yet to endorse any presidential candidate - Official

Spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed Spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

The Northern Elders Forum has given reasons why it has not endorsed any of the 18 presidential candidates taking part in next month’s election in Nigeria.

The presidential election will be held on 25 February.

Peter Obi (Labour Party), Bola Tinubu (All Progressives Congress) , Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (New Nigeria Peoples Party) are the four leading candidates for the election.

The spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the group would not rush to endorse any presidential candidate despite having a few weeks to the election.

He said this while featuring on a live television programme, Focus Nigeria, aired on the African Independent Television and monitored by PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr Baba-Ahmed recalled how the group supported Muhammadu Buhari to win the 2015 election and later worked against his reelection in 2019 because they were apparently dissatisfied with Mr Buhari’s performance.

The Northern Elders Forum was unable to convince other Nigerians not to support Mr Buhari in 2019, Mr Baba-Ahmed said.

“This time we are taking precautions – we are saying be careful, don’t rush into judgment. We still have about six weeks to take a decision. We are doing a lot of good things in terms of following around and assessing what they (candidates) are doing, what they are saying, not just at the presidential level but governors and National Assembly.

“We believe governance is not just about one person and that is why we have not rushed to say this is our candidate because one person cannot change this country,” he said.

Mr Baba-Ahmed, a former secretary to the Kaduna State Government, said the group would endorse a candidate before the election as they cannot afford to leave the north “hanging.”

He said Nigerians do not need an ethnic president or one voted on the basis of faith but a “courageous president” that will take decisions which may not be popular among the people.

“Do you negotiate with Boko Haram, do you negotiate with bandits, should you just continue to fight them and they will fight you? What do you do with people like Nnamdi Kanu, should you speak with him, should you negotiate, is there basis for negotiating?

“We must have a president who will weather the storm, face problems and deal with them. We need the president who will insist that questions must be raised and answers must be found for them. We need a president who understands where resources should go and shouldn’t go,” he said.

On the concerns raised by some Nigerians about the electronic transmission of results, Mr Baba-Ahmed said the forum was happy with the progress made by the Independent National Electoral Commission to improve the integrity of Nigeria’s electoral process.