The apex socio-cultural organisation of Northern Nigeria, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has distanced itself from the Northern Elders Forum’s (NEF) opposition to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election, saying that NEF cannot choose for the region who to support in 2019.
The secretary-general of the ACF, Anthony Sani, yesterday asserted that Prof Ango Abdullahi of the Northern Elders Forum cannot speak on behalf of the northern region against the re-election of President Buhari in 2019.
Sani was obviously reacting to statements credited to Prof Ango Abdullahi, the convener of NEF, that President Buhari’s second term ambition would not receive the support of northerners due to his administration’s failure to fulfil his campaign promises.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Abdullahi had at the weekend said that the 2019 presidential election would be won and lost based on the capacity, performance and competence of the candidates, and not on sentiment as was the case in 2015.
Speaking with journalists in his Arewa Farms in Zaria, yesterday, Prof Abdullahi said power brokers in the North would not support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in the 2019 general election because he had woefully failed to address the abject poverty and underdevelopment in the region.
He said another four years of Buhari administration would be catastrophic with the current government’s unprecedented incompetence and enthronement of mediocrity in dealing with the horrendous spate of killings and general insecurity across the country.
But when contacted by our Kaduna correspondent over NEF’s opposition to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election, Sani remarked that even some members of the Northern Elders Forum do not share Abdullahi’s position.
Sani said: “We have nothing to do with Northern Elders Forum because of factions. Which faction are we going to talk about?”
“The Arewa Consultative Forum disassociated itself from the statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum when they passed a vote of no confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari and other northern leaders some months back. Even now kicking against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and its position that the administration has failed, we still distance ourselves from their activities. It’s Nigerians that will decide whether the president has failed or succeeded.
“We are not a partisan organisation; it ( NEF’s position) is not a consensus of our people, instead it is a partisan position. It is God that used the masses/citizens of the country in making Buhari a president and they (NEF members) are not in a position to decide for the citizens.
“What I can tell you is that we are not part of Northern Elders Forum’s position against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari. I read that even some members of the Northern Elders Forum distanced themselves from the position against Mr President.
“Not quite long, ACF dissociated itself from Northern Elders Forum’s communiqué for criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari and other Northern Nigerian leaders. In the communiqué, they passed vote of no confidence on Mr President and other Northern Nigerian leaders and we said we are not part of the communiqué.”
Insisting that the ACF was not in support of the position of some northern elders against the president’s re-election, Sani added that “it’s Nigerians that will decide and they (Northern elders) are not speaking for the people of the North.”
Prof Abdullahi had declared that the forum held the aces in the politics of the North, adding that NEF’s position was guided by the desire to achieve the greater interest of the Nigerian nation and not just the interest of the region.
“The ideal presidential candidate for 2019 should be a patriot, a committed nationalist, a bridge-builder and unifier of all Nigerians. He must believe in, and must have demonstrated in practical terms, a strong commitment to the principles of our common humanity and the transformation of our diversity into sources of strength,” he had said.
… “Obasanjo’s Endorsement won’t save Atiku – Lai Moh’d
Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari will defeat other presidential candidates in the forthcoming general election including preferred candidate of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo has openly declared his support for his erstwhile estranged deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is the standard bearer of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Apparently responding to a statement credited to Obasanjo which suggested that he preferred Atiku to President Buhari, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted, however, that the former president had the right to support whosoever he wishes, but he insisted that Obasanjo and his preferred candidate would be defeated in 2019.
“We do respect the former president Obasanjo. Actually it is his constitutional right to support any candidates of this choice. We urge him to go out and campaign vigorously for any candidate of his choice. I want to assure you that his candidate must be defeated comprehensively. It’s not about endorsement,” the minister said.
On the issue of debating with opponents, the minister explained that only the president would decide whether or not to attend presidential debates.
“I think Mr. President will decide whether he is going to attend any debate or not but I think Mr. President today has a cabinet and these cabinet members every day go out, debate and discuss issues. I’m here with you today discussing issues. Every day we are out there. So Mr. President will decide whether to do or not,” he stated.
While speaking on the Electoral Act amendment bill which the president again declined assent, Mohammed explained that the bill is so critical in the life of the country that time and effort must not be spared in ensuring that it is rightly done.
He also reiterated the reasons adduced by President Buhari, noting that signing the bill could put the country in political confusion.
According to the minister, common errors in the drafting of a law could make a whole lot of difference.
“I think Mr. President has already communicated with the National Assembly why he is not signing that bill and I think, according to his reasons, if he signs that bill now it will create confusion and we are waiting further reactions from the National Assembly.
“Electoral Bill is so critical in the life of a nation that time and efforts must not be spared in ensuring that you do the right thing. In drafting, what you think are just common errors could make a whole lot of difference. But the main reasons I’m holding onto is that signing this Bill would create uncertainty,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister has blamed the rumor making the rounds that President Buhari had been cloned on unhealthy opposition politics.
The information minister also commented on the rumours of a false president in Aso Rock, describing it as the kind of fake news this administration had been waging war against.
“In the last one week alone, three fake news of various version have emanated. One quoted me as saying that the president could no longer speak and understand Fulfude because of the surgery he underwent in London which affects his ability to speak the language, that it has affected his ability to remember anything.
“The other part of the fake news are those who manufactured the clone theory, it is untrue. What bothers me is that it is not going to stop and as election is approaching, you will hear more of the fake news. And this is simply because they know that they cannot beat us on issues, so they have resorted to fabricating fake news.”
He urged the media to always cross check the information for authenticity and not just to accept it without questioning these fake news.
“What is painful to me is that many intelligent people will buy this stories, it is amazing. How can you sit down in your room and say that Lai Mohammed said that ‘if Israel did not release Kanu, Nigeria is going to retaliate by sending missiles,’ and many believe this, including some professional media.”
He, however, gave assurance that no amount of fake news would deter the current administration from fulfilling its promises to Nigerians.
CAN Meets PMB, Atiku, Others
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday met with leading presidential candidates in Abuja.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the parley, held at National Christian Centre, was part of the umbrella Christian body’s efforts to ensure peaceful polls in 2019.
The meeting was attended by the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who represented the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, while Peter Obi, the ex-governor of Anambra State and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), represented Atiku Abubakar, his principal.
Other presidential candidates present were those of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Obiageli Ezekwesili; African Democratic Congress (ADC), Obadiah Malafia, Fela Durotoye; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), John Gbor, and Young Progressive Party (YPP), Kingsley Moghalu.
Addressing newsmen prior to the meeting, CAN president, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said the meeting was aimed at interrogating the credentials of the candidates as well as their plans for the nation, the church and the modus operandi towards ensuring free and fair elections.
“The motive is not to take for granted the 2019 elections. 2019 Nigeria will depend on next year’s presidential election; that is, how free and fair it is going to be.
“The church cannot take the back seat in this situation because it can only prosper when Nigeria prospers. If the election is not free and fair, then all Nigerians, including the church, will be in trouble.
“So, we decided to reach out to the presidential candidates to ask them their credentials for aspiring to the highest office in the land. Also, to interrogate their plans for all Nigerians including the church.
‘’We also brought them together to speak to their consciences so that they don’t set this nation on fire. We are going to draw our conclusion after we have finished our interview.”
On President Buhari’s recent decision to decline assent to the Electoral Act amendment based on the timing and closeness to election, Ayokunle called on the executive and the legislature to collaborate in order to achieve free and fair elections.
“The executive and the National Assembly should put their house in order. Whenever there is this kind of disagreement or a stalemate, the executive and the legislature should come together as partners in progress to mutually find a way forward.
‘’They cannot afford to play with the future of the country through the forthcoming 2019 general elections. Everything must be done to ensure that the election is free and fair,” he added.
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