The United for a Better Nigeria Initiative (UBNi) has encouraged the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and other northern elders to endorse as a consensus presidential candidate a competent contender from the South East geopolitical region.
Mrs. Nkoli Mkparu, the National Coordinator of UBNi, stated in Abuja on Wednesday that this will be done in the spirit of inclusion and representational justice.
She also invited northern elders to join Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba social and cultural organisation, in the hunt for a president of south-east ancestry.
Apparently reacting to the outcome of the consensus arrangement reached by some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirants from the north, Mkparu stated that the elders should consider the extensive credentials of former Secretary to the Federal Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who was elected Senate President at the age of 39 and has always been a stalwart PDP member.
Mkparu cautioned that electing another president from another region of the country in 2023 would further marginalise Nigerians of south east origin, noting that the south east had previously backed northern candidates for the nation’s top job.
Prof. Ango Abdulahi, chairman of the NEF, proposed former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed as the party’s consensus candidates for the north under the contentious consensus system established by Prof. Ango Abdulahi.
The UBNi leaders, on the other hand, criticised the plan, stating that northern elders should seek beyond their area for a viable presidential candidate in 2023.
Mkparu stated that the country’s ultimate interest should be served through the unity and harmonious coexistence of interest groups inside the country.
“The NEF and other northern elders should contact aspirants from the South East zone and proclaim their support for anyone who matches their criteria,” she stated. Nobody can become president only on the basis of popularity inside his geopolitical zone, and hence leaders and opinion shapers from other geopolitical zones should give the 2023 slot to the north and reveal their chosen candidate (s).
“Anyim has been a stalwart member of the PDP from its foundation. Through his dedication in both good and bad times, he was elected to the Party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), National Caucus, and National Executive Committee (NEC).
“He has also worked on the PDP’s Reconciliation Committee and has shown an interest in becoming the Party’s Chairman. He waged a principled campaign and received widespread support and endorsements from party members across the nation, but a consensual decision to zone the chairmanship to another geographical zone (not his) stopped him from securing the party’s top office.”