As permutations continue for the coming major contest for the presidency between incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the North, a major swing region, says it is yet to take a definite stand on either of the two.
The revelation was made by Malam Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, leader of the Northern Emancipation Network, a critical partner in the Coalition of Northern Groups that gained popularty last year by confronting the secessionist Indeginous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Suleiman described as hasty for any group or individual to declare publicly that the North as block has arrived at a consensus with regards to either Buhari or Atiku.
“Every Nigerian, northerners most especially know that the factors that will determine 2019 are distinct from those that shaped the pattern of the 2015 elections.
“Unlike the previous contest, 2019 is going to be faught between two northerners of the same religious faith and both of the same Fulani stock.
“What may dominate the debate for 2019 would therefore be critical physical and human development issues for the North and integrity to a large extent.
“It is therefore hasty for any individual or group to claim that the North has agreed on a preferred candidate among the two. This is not to take away the right of individuals or associations to form opinions in accordance with their personal set of biases.
“The North and those individuals or groups that genuinely aim to promote and protect the collective interest of the region must not be in a haste. They should allow their decision to be informed by commitment of each of the candidates to the fate of they North.
“President Buhari should make a comprehensive and articulate presentation of his efforts for the North in the last three years and the plans he has for the region if given the second chance he seems.
“On the other had Atiku must give convincing clarifications about the myriad moral bankruptcy issues raised against him as well as make available whatever alternative programme he might have for the region. All these have not been done.
‘The fact that both candidates belong to the same old brigade that oscillated the total available activity of the region in one way or the other since independence makes it all the more imperative for the younger generations to tread with caution.
“Young northerners who have all along being at the receiving end of every harsh reality should no longer be taken for a ride by staking their fate in the hands of self-appointed regional leaders and sectional elders who themselves constitute a major hurdle in the path of the region’s progress in particular and the country to a large extent.
“To borrow from the words of a second republic politician, we are living today in times of great changes with the old order crumbling past and new systems of life and activity emerging. The task before the younger generation is therefore, to understand these changes and utilize them for human progress,” Suleiman said.