The North will support the Presidential candidate with genuine commitment to deal with its problems and meet the region’s aspirations in 2023, the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) said on Sunday.
Its convener Prof. Ango Abdullahi said: “The forum has observed that political maneuvres around the 2023 elections are targeting the North as a region available for exploitation.
He spoke after a meeting of the forum.
With him during the briefing was the froum’s Director, Advocacy and Engagements, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who read the statement.
In attendance at the meeting were: Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alamin Daggash (retd), Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdullahi Usman, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Deputy National Chairman, Alhaji Bello Kirfi (Wazirin Bauchi), DIG Labaran Wurno, Alhaji Yakubu Shehu and former Managing Director, defunct Bank of the North, Hajiya Amina Yahaya, among others.
NEF also said President Muhammadu Buhari had failed to tackle insecurity in addition that the government appeared helpless in finding solutions to poverty.
Dr. Baba-Ahmed said: “The Forum regrets that by any standard of judgment, the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed the nation in the vital area of improving its security. Poverty, particularly in the North, and massive social security have worsened under this administration. The relationship between insecurity and poverty is fundamental, but the administration does not appear to have any idea on what will provide relief or solution.
The Presidency described the NEF as irrelevant and its leadership a “paper tiger”.
Many of the members of the NEF were against President Buhari’s reelection which he won without their support.
The Forum also called for “a thorough overhaul of the leadership of our security and public safety agencies, and the injection of higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner our troops and the police and security agencies deal with security challenges. We appeal to our religious leaders and fellow citizens not to fall into the trap of insurgents to set us up against each other.
On other issues, the Forum said it noted the comments of the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), in response to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar, and described it as not in conformity with the culture of respect and reverence for leaders which Northerners are noted for.
On the ban on Okada and Keke in Lagos. The forum recognized “ the rights of the Lagos State government to take decisions that improve the environment and public safety”, but added: “We are constrained to draw attention to the impact of its policy on banning Okada and Keke in parts of the State on the poor and operators, many of them from the North, who earn honest living through this trade. We urge restraint in the responses of those who are immediately affected by this policy, while we urge Northern State Governments to mobilize and support the people who will be compelled to relocate back to the North with other sources of legitimate living.