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NIGERIA: Northern Elders are Misguided on Jonathan’s Candidacy, Says Northern Youths

A group, Concerned Northern Youths Forum (CNYF), has thrown its weight behind the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan and condemned the purported endorsement of General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by Northern Elders Forum (NEF). The group described the decision as untenable and a mere fiction of their imagination, which does not represent the general feelings and opinions of the majority of northerners.

Addressing a press conference in Bauchi at the weekend, the  CNYF’s National Chairman, AlKasim Charanchi, assured President Jonathan and his running mate. Namadi Sambo of substantial votes of the northerners and that his forum has mobilised its members across the 19 northern states to vote for the PDP from top to bottom.

According to him, “We totally condemn the recent support of the NEF for the presidential candidature of Buhari of the APC in the forthcoming election. We view the so-called support as not only partisan but against the collective interest of the whole North.”

He said their decision to condemn the NEF’s position is because the elders’ standpoint was not in tandem with the collective resolve of the north and advised them to be neural as elders and not bias in taking decision concerning the future of the North.

Charanchi said: “As elders, we expect that the NEF would look far ahead and plan accordingly. The North already has a vice-president in the person of Alhaji Namadi Sambo and allowing President Jonathan to have a second slot at the presidency means giving the North an automatic ticket for the presidency in 2019.”

He said the achievements of President Jonathan’s administration in the North is unprecedented and was enough for the NEF to canvass support for Jonathan in the February polls rather than ganging up with retrogressives group to work against the return of Jonathan alleging that the elders are championing a clandestine motive that was not known to the youth.

Though, he said, they were not holding brief for President Jonathan and that the ‘pull-him-down’ attitude adopted by the elders does not augur well for the unity and cohesiveness of Nigeria as an entity saying that in line with the PDP zoning arrangement, the presidency would be ceded to the region in 2019 and any plan to scuttle this cannot be said to be in the interest of the North.

According to him, “As a body of elders which seeks the collective interest of the North, we should have thought that the NEF would be neutral and not single out a candidate for its support because our votes alone cannot ensure the emergence of a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We need the support of other parts of the country to produce a president, we need a national president, not a regional leader.”

He condemned the elders for travelling from one state to another begging governors for money to fund Buhari’s campaign and their collusion with some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure Buhari’s victory at all cost in the next month’s election.

Charanchi said: “This it has done by purchasing computers to ensure that as many voters as possible were captured in the recent Continuous Voter Registration in the APC strongholds with the view to giving Buhari candidacy an undue advantage, in their now-or-never attitude of installing President of Nigeria come February 14.”

He accused the elders of making the insurgency problem as their major campaign issue against President Jonathan, saying Jonathan has done the needful in curbing the menace of insurgents by deploying troops to the troubled North-east region but called on every well meaning northerner to cooperate Jonathan in combating the insurgency.

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