…Says, “It’s misleading, position very divisive.”
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Group, under the auspices of ‘Northern Nigeria’s Front for Equity and Good Governance,’ has strongly kicked against agitations for Muslim-Muslim ticket as the only way for victory for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in 2023 presidential election, describing the position as “misleading and very unfortunate.”
The Northern group in their large numbers in an elaborate press conference in Kaduna, on Friday, said the positions of those persons are not only incorrect, but an attempt to mislead the good people of the northern region into thinking that religion or ethnicity is the major determining factor for the voting pattern of the North.
“Again, such very unfortunate voices seem to destroy the foundation of unity, oneness and equity, which the founding fathers of the region toiled for,” they said.
The press conference text signed by the group’s President, Zakariya Abdul’aziz, General Secretary, Mr. Moses Ladan Auta and the Publicity Secretary, Bashir Bala Mustapha, respectively, noted that the position is “divisive, careless and callous for some persons to say that the choice of a Christian from the North will not guarantee Northern votes for certain political parties.”
“As a group, we are very concerned and disturbed by the utterances of some few voices that have attempted to push out their narratives (using religion and ethnicity) under the guise of ‘speaking for the North’ over the choice of political party candidates and their running mates.
“In particular, we find it very divisive, careless and callous for some persons to say that the choice of a Christian from the North will not guarantee Northern votes for certain political parties.
“For instance, they have brazenly and openly said that only the choice of a Muslim from the North as running mate to candidate of the ruling party can guarantee the votes of the North. In other words, they are saying that, a Muslim-Muslim ticket is the only way to victory for the ruling party. This is misleading and very unfortunate.
“The position is not only incorrect, but an attempt to mislead the good people of the region into thinking that religion or ethnicity is the major determining factor for the voting pattern of the North. Again, such very unfortunate voices seem to destroy the foundation of unity, oneness and equity, which the founding fathers of the region toiled for.
“To demonstrate how untrue such positions of religion are, one can give an example with the current leadership of the Northern Governors Forum, which is chaired by the Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, who happens to be a Christian amidst his colleagues that are majorly Muslims.
“Despite that, he has led them well and enjoyed their full cooperation and support. Where then is the religious dichotomy coming from? It is our strong view that this argument is unfair and capable of portraying the North as being politically insensitive in the current effort to conclude the nomination exercise in some political parties.
“Our stand has always been that the North is known to be at the forefront of promoting inclusive politics in the country. Despite some challenges, the North always emerged exceptional in expressing itself as a nationalistic region.
“The recent stand of the Northern Governors Forum, led by its Chairman and Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, and political leaders, who insisted on power shift to the Southern part of the country, is a clear demonstration of the patriotism of the Northerners, which should not be lost by the actions and utterances of a few persons. We have always made sacrifices to maintain the unity of the country, in spite of obvious pains in some instances.
“In that regard, therefore, we insist that justice, equity and fairness must be allowed to prevail in all situations. To this end, the organisation wishes to make a clarion call for due regard and respect for the country’s diversities in fielding candidates for national offices.
“Most importantly, offices of the President and the Vice President of the country require careful thought and balance in the current fragile state of affairs where the main concern is to bring all segments on board. This, when done, would sustain the current political balance, thereby ensuring peace and harmony.
“While we believe that competence should always be considered, it needs to also be stressed that as a result of the perceived attempt to neglect the critical aspect of justice and fairness in building our national unity, some actors are trying to overheat the polity.
“Others, who are sensing exclusion on the grounds of faith or ethnicity, are also agitated. This ought not to be so, because the North has respected and supported power sharing arrangements (written and unwritten) overtime,” they said.
The group, therefore, called on the political leaders to, as a matter of national concern, demonstrate appropriate patriotism and make necessary sacrifices to maintain peace, promote unity and stability in the country by insisting on fairness, equity and justice for all people, irrespective of their faith, ethnicity, state of origin and others. The North is one, and we must remain united.
“The North has done justice and fairness to other parts of the country. It is, therefore, imperative that such should be seen within it in terms of equal opportunities to all. We have no doubts in our minds that our leaders are mindful of this and do not have to wait to be served a reminder to do the needful.
“While we appeal for calm and decorum on the part of all, citizens and leaders alike, we reiterate our call to religious, political, traditional and community leaders in the North to bring their voices to the fore in stopping the very toxic narrative by a few selfish voices, who are bent on creating divisive tendencies in the Northern region.
“For equity and fairness in handling sensitive issues that have a bearing on our peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity, inclusion should be our collective pursuit as against exclusion,” it added.
According to them, the unity, which puts the general good above personal and group interests, was initiated and sustained by their revered father, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello; late Sir Kashim Ibrahim; late J.S. Tarka and a host of others, in spite of political, ethnic and religious differences.