THE Northern Elders Forum (NEF) says the northern part of the country already has an idea of who the next president should be, noting that the region will not vote along religious and ethnic lines in the 2023 presidential election.
NEF’s spokesperson, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, disclosed this on Sunday, September 25 while speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
The ability to solve the region’s problems, Baba-Ahmed said, would be one of the foremost considerations when the region goes to the polls next year.
NEF said it would support a southerner if it was convinced he would solve the problems of the northern people.
“We have ideas about what the next president should look like, what is important for the next administration.
“First of all, we need to secure the country. Secondly, we need to ask basic questions about why the economy is failing and what they intend to do. Then, we want to ask what their plans are, or what their thinking is about all the clamour for restructuring,” he said.
The North, according to him, would be interested in knowing what plans the presidential candidates have for education, particularly for the out-of-school children in the northern part of the country.
Baba-Ahmed listed certain qualities as representing the basis upon which the North would be supporting a candidate.
“We want to know what he intends to do in terms of satisfying us that he has the mental capacity, the physical capacity, the intellect, the willingness to tap into the best and the brightest brains available, and sensitivity to a number of key issues that are central to our survival as a country,” he said.
While dismissing insinuations that the North would not support a candidate from the region, the group said it would not allow and encourage the region to vote on primordial interests.
He, however, added that the group would support a northerner if it believed he was the best for the job with the ability to do justice to all parts of the country.
Baba-Ahmed noted that the group was already designing a template that includes the issue of the North’s security, economy, education, and co-existence of Nigerians, and then interrogate our various presidential candidates very seriously in terms of their thinking and what they plan to do.
He stressed the North would not repeat the past mistakes in choosing the next Nigerian president.