2023: Northern Elders will work to produce competent Nigerian leader -Spokesman

As the political moves toward the 2023 continue to largely behind- the -scenes, the Northern Elders,NEF Forum has said that the people of the North will support competent leader for Nigerians

Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed Director, Publicity and Advocacy, NEF, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja.

He said: “The people of the North want to work with other Nigerians to produce a competent and committed Nigerian leadership that  will restore confidence in our country’s capacity to survive and rebuild itself for the next generations.”

The statement slammed the growing insecurity across the country.NEF said contrary to the government’s claims, the security situation remains dire.

Northern Elders Forum concluded a meeting under leadership of its Convener, Professor Ango Abdullahi.The meeting undertook a sweeping survey of recent developments in the country and decided to release this Statement.

NEF statement reads in full: “The Forum took note of the worsening security situation in the country, in spite of claims by the administration to the contrary.Boko Haram insurgency continues to be a major threat in the North East, while kidnapping and large scale banditry in many  other parts  of the North are taking over lives of large portions of the population.IPOB threatens to eradicate the influence of legitimate authority in the South East.Politicians and influential people are worsening the nation’s fault lines by the manner they seek political advantages through the exploitation  of  threats to our unity and peaceful co-existence.Poverty and poor governance are fueling widespread alienation from mainstream social existence.

“The Forum joins the nation  in its outrage over the fact that Maiduguri, Borno State capital has been without power from the national grid for ten months, and is alarmed by signs that its population could be forced to resign to living with this additional assault on their lives and livelihood.This situation must be reversed at all cost.The planned closure of Internally-Dispersed Persons(IDP) camps should be carefully considered so that it does not place more victims in avoidable peril

“The Forum regrets that arguments over labelling bandits as terrorists wastes attention and energy.If labeling bandits as terrorists will substantially improve the capacity of the Nigerian state to eliminate this expanding scourge, the Forum supports  it without reservation.In any case, all lawful options  in bringing this menace to an end must be pursued.Measures put in place to contain its spread should be diligently monitored and evaluated, and those that merely worsen the condition of living of law-abiding population should be removed.Governments should be sensitive to the possibility of severe food shortage in the next few months in many Northern communities, in addition to escalating cost of living which will combine to confront the poor with intolerable conditions of living.

According to NEF, “Activities of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra(IPOB) represent an unacceptable threat to security and rights of fellow Nigerians in the States of the South East region, and the country as a whole.Its damage to the economy of the South East is already registered as a major disaster.IPOB’s plans to frustrate the Governorship election in Anambra State this weekend must be resisted.The on-going trial of its leader should proceed in accordance with the laws of the land, and elites from the region who demand that he is accorded special treatment in return for peace should know that they are merely inviting more threats on the people they should help to protect.

“The Forum notes that the nation is coming to terms with a major requirement of the democratic process, which is the right of all citizens to freely participate in all political activities.It is now accepted wisdom that every Nigerian can contest for any office to which he/she is qualified, and voters will choose their next leaders in credible elections.The Forum salutes all Nigerians who toiled to restore a level playing field to our democratic system.It is now left to politicians and other leaders to conduct the type of politics that builds into it real equity, fairness,competence and justice, through inclusive  campaigns and  responsible approach towards the 2023 elections.The people of the North want to work with other Nigerians to produce a competent and committed Nigerian leadership that  will restore confidence in our country’s capacity to survive and rebuild itself for the next generations.

“The Forum notes that PDP and APC dominate the political landscape.It further notes that Nigerians will benefit from additional options, both to improve competition and to  broaden the leadership selection process.The Forum looks forward to the emergence and consolidation of other parties in the political environment.The continued existence of State electoral commissions which conduct elections into Local Government Councils is severely damaging the democratic process.The Forum advises that the on-going constitutional amendments should include the scrapping of these commissions and the assumption of their duties by INEC.

“The Forum notes that opportunities exist for Nigerians to register to vote in the 2023 elections.Apathy, anger and frustrations arising from failure of elected leaders to improve lives of citizens and insecurity are keeping many Nigerians from their rights and obligations to register and vote.The Forum urges especially Northerners to register and prepare to vote  for new and more competent and honest leaders in the 2023 elections.”