The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has replied Regional groups that consist of Afenifere, Ohneaze, South-south and Meddle belt forum against their wish withholding their support for northern candidates like Atiku, Tambuwal kwankwaso should in case they declare their intention of contesting 2023 presidential election saying every Nigerians have right under the 1999 constitution to contest any vacant position if they so wish.     

They also said northerners possess equal rights like their counterparts from the South to aspire for the presidency in 2023.

But they noted that competence, integrity, and commitment to the rule of law of such candidate(s) either from North or South, must be a yardstick for support.

Urban Express-News Report that Southern and Middle Belt Forum, which comprises the Yoruba socio-political group,  Afenifere; the Igbo socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and the Middle Belt Forum, had urged all parties to zone their presidential ticket to the South ahead of the 2023 presidential election, adding that the South and the Middle Belt would not vote for a northern presidential candidate in 2023.

But the northern leaders kicked against it, declaring that the fundamental rights of all political parties to field candidates of their choices, and the right of voters to freely exercise choices over who leads them could not be compromised.

Besides, the northern leaders called for the postponement of the planned 2022 national census given the high number of displaced Nigerians as well as the proximity to the 2023 general elections.

This was just as they urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act into law to improve the quality of the 2023 elections

These were contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting convened by the Northern Elders’ Forum led by Prof Ango Abdullahi, at the Arewa House, Kaduna, on Saturday.

They urged the northerners to vote for the best leaders while calling on them to ignore groups in “the South of Nigeria who appear to believe that command democracy in which threats and hate campaigns are their hallmarks or defining elements will work in Nigeria.”

They, however, urged key northern groups to engage their counterparts from the South to improve understanding, lower tensions and contribute to the creation of an atmosphere that allows all Nigerians to live in peace with each other.

The communiqué signed by the drafting committee chairman, Prof D. Sheni, partly read, “The fundamental rights of all political parties to field candidates of their choices, and the right of voters to freely exercise choices over who leads them cannot be compromised. Northerners have equal rights to aspire to all offices but they must raise competence, evidence of personal integrity, and commitments to the rule of law above all other considerations.

“While commending the efforts of the nation’s defense and security forces in rolling back sundry threats that have weakened the Nigerian State and made life almost valueless, the meeting advises the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, governors and legislators to revisit and re-prioritize spending on security and addressing the scourge of poverty.

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