ACF to northerners: Overlook tribal, regional interests in 2023 polls 

 The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has urged northerners to look beyond tribal, regional and religious boundaries in voting candidates with good character, track record and national interest in the forthcoming elections.

Speaking in a statement Sunday by its Secretary General, Murtala M. Aliyu, the ACF tasked the federal government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the election is free, fair, credible and hold as scheduled.

It also urged security agencies to ensure the safety of citizens and foreigners before, during and after the polls. 

ACF said: “In a few days, 93 million Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president, 31 state governors, 469 members of the National Assembly, and 990 members of the 36 state houses of assembly. This is a gigantic and important exercise. Our prayers are that the elections will be held peacefully, and will produce outcomes that will take the country closer to its main goals of building a free, just, democratic, and egalitarian society. A great, united, and self-reliant nation, with a strong and dynamic economy full of opportunities for all citizens.

“In our search for good leaders, we must cast our nets far beyond our ethnic, religious or geographical interests. A leader does not have to come from our tribe, zone, region or religious persuasion. We should seek for leaders that best cater for our national interests, elected within the tenets of democratic processes. The tenets that allow people to choose leaders who will best cater for interests of the generality of the people, NOT their individual personal or the interests of their ethnic or religious groups.

“When 17 state governors from Southern part of Nigeria, and from different political parties met last year and demanded that a Southerner must be elected as the president of Nigeria, it was accepted that as we are in a democracy, they were entitled to their views and opinions. Recently, some 14 Northern governors belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress met and came out with the announcement that they had committed themselves to ensuring that a candidate of their party from the Southern part of the country is elected president of the country. 

“Their reason was that the emergence and subsequent election of a person from the Southern part of the country will entrench the principle of North /South power rotation in the politics of Nigeria. Though the principle of power rotation is still somewhat controversial, under our democratic dispensation we must reconcile ourselves to accepting that Nigeria is a country for all its citizens, and each citizen has right to choose whatever he or she believes to be in the best interests of themselves and their followers. They also have to accept the principle of power rotation between North and South.

“The Federal Government must commit itself to delivering what should turn out to be a fair, transparent, credible and hitch-free elections the outcome of which must be decided only by the votes cast. The President has at various fora promised to do that. The nation looks forward to the fulfillment of that promise.

“ACF has always taken the liberty to draw the attention of voters to the right qualities they should look for when deciding whom to cast their votes for. At each occasion such as this, the key selection criteria we recommend to voters to consider are very clear and objective party manifestos and the character and track records of the candidates. Voters will do great disservice to themselves if they were to vote into offices persons they know, or should know, have no capacity to perform well, or are persons with questionable character. 

“Voters are always advised to shun unhealthy schemes whereby a president or state governor handpicks a successor. Nothing promotes entrenched corruption, cronyism and poor leadership more that such dubious arrangements. The nation will never be able of identify and select good leaders among its people so long as some dubious people are allowed to manipulate the selection of candidates and the ultimate election processes.

“We are particularly impressed by the introduction of technology in the electioneering process, a right step that will surely serve to check against such hitherto usual electoral malpractices of over-voting, ballot stuffing, ballot box snatching and the alteration of results. The online transmission of results from the polling points to the collating centers and the provision of facilities for people to monitor election results online are also innovations that will ensure that the elections are not rigged.”  

Save Nigeria from corruption – Ohanaeze

 In a related development, an Igbo apex group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Sunday called on Nigerians to vote for Mr. Peter Obi of the Labor Party in Saturday’s presidential elections.

In a statement by its Secretary-General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the group said Obi would save the country from corrupt politicians.

 Isiguzoro further called for a united Nigeria that would join forces to deliver the country through their vote for Obi.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has reached out to well-meaning Nigerians and the North to unite together for the greater future of the country by voting for the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, as the President on 25th February 2023.

“There is an ongoing battle between the corrupt elites and President Buhari, as there are attempts to bend the President to accept the elite covetousness and allow a particular unpopular candidate to win the 2023 Presidential election,” the statement said.

They said: “The North should know that it’s only Peter Obi who will salvage the myriad of problems in the North and resuscitate the dwindling fortunes of the North.

“Those who are aged, without the stamina will not be able to do the work rather than helping the north, they will aggravate and worsen the situation.

“Northerners should shun ethnicity and religion cards and choose competence, capacity, and character in the bid to end up insecurity and banditry in the North, we are begging the Northerners to choose Peter Obi ahead of Atiku and Tinubu to save the country from the total collapse.”

“Nigerians should vote and protect their votes across the country; we must end up the era of corruption, executive stealing, and insecurity by voting for the best man for the Job.

“This is the battle for the survival of the soul of Nigeria, and Nigerians must ensure that they hold President Buhari and INEC not to succumb to the pressures of the corrupt political elites uniting across party lines to fight for their political survival against a political tsunami that is about to sweep them off from relevance.

“Nobody should deny Mr. Peter Obi the Presidency if he wins,  because attempts to subvert the will of Nigerians and denying Peter Obi his victory if he wins will spell doom for the country,” Ohanaeze further added.

…Editors task INEC, security agencies, politicians

 Also, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies, and other stakeholders not to disappoint Nigerians.

 In a communiqué signed by its President, Mustapha Isah and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, at the end of its Standing Committee in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital weekend, the umbrella body of all editors in Nigeria, said “Nigerians desire that their votes will count, and are expectant of free, fair and credible “elections, devoid of violence.”

The NGE said: “We call on the INEC to make good its promise of early deployment of electoral materials to polling units on election days and ensure its personnel, in their conduct, do not deviate from provisions of the Electoral Act and other laws guiding the elections.

“The NGE notes that all eyes will be on the operation of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and urges the electoral body to ensure that the devices are in top shape, to perform optimally and actualise the intended purpose of their introduction during the elections.”

The Guild also called on the electoral body “to ensure the secrecy of ballots, by ensuring that its cubicles are well positioned to achieve this and cameras are kept away by voters while voting.”

It noted the important role of the security agencies in achieving free, fair, and credible elections, urging them to be unbiased and ensure voters can exercise their franchise freely in a peaceful atmosphere devoid of intimidation.

The Guild also urged the security agencies to be on the lookout for vote buyers to apprehend prosecute offenders and advised them to provide adequate security for electoral officials and materials.

Expressing concern over the activities of some political parties since the commencement of the ongoing campaigns, the group advised political parties and their candidates to play by the rules and impress on their supporters the need to avoid violence before, during, and after the polls.

“We call on politicians to let their party manifestos and campaign promises guide the electorate in making their choices and to avoid inducing voters through vote buying. The Guild calls on the electorate to come out to perform their civic rights by speaking with their votes on election days and to avoid voter apathy”, the NGE said.

Observing that the media have a role to play in ensuring free and fair elections, the NGE urged the media to be professional in their reportage and ensure proper fact-checking before the publication of reports.

It also called on all stakeholders, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and local and international election monitors/observers to play their roles within the ambit of the law in ensuring that the nation has yet another successful election transition.

The editors  also noted the current challenges over the cashless policy and advised the government, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to address all challenges capable of affecting the conduct of the general elections.

It, however, appreciated the Ogun state government for providing an atmosphere conducive to the Standing Committee meeting to hold in the state.

About AbdulRaheem Aodu, Kaduna, Amarachukwu Egwu-Agha, Abakaliki and Tope Sunday, Abuja

View all posts by AbdulRaheem Aodu, Kaduna, Amarachukwu Egwu-Agha, Abakaliki and Tope Sunday, Abuja →