The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has advised voters to shun tribal sentiments and choose leaders who will cater for national interests from next Saturday when the Presidential and National Assembly elections hold.
The apex Northern socio-cultural group said categorically “a leader does not have to come from our tribe, zone, region or religious persuasion,” adding “in our search for good leaders, we must cast our nets far beyond our ethnic, religious or geographical interests.”
ACF, in a statement on Sunday by its Secretary-General, Murtala Aliyu, also backed rotational presidency.
It said: “Though the principle of power rotation is still largely and somewhat controversial, nonetheless, 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.
“At the same time, however, they also have to accept the principle of power rotation between north and south.”
In the statement titled: ‘Achieving success with the 2023 general elections’, ACF said: “At times such as this when the nation is in election mode, the 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 also always advised to shun those unhealthy schemes whereby a president or state governor handpicks a successor.
“Nothing promotes entrenched corruption, cronyism and poor leadership more that such schemes as such dubious arrangements.
“The nation will never be able to 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.
“A cardinal and national goal of our great and dear country Nigeria includes the creation of a nation in which: “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”
“We, as a nation, believed so much in such slogan that at one time, it was a part of our national anthem!
“And in simple terms, it means that in our search for good leaders, we must cast our nets far beyond our ethnic, religious or geographical interests.”
It added: “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, and who are elected within the tenets of democratic processes.
The tenents 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, the heavens did not fall. It was accepted that as we are in a democracy, they were entitled to their views and opinions.
“Quite recently also, some 14 northern Governors belonging to the ruling All progressives Congress Party, (APC) 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 serve to entrench the principle of North/South power rotation in the politics Nigeria.”