Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, yesterday warned that Nigeria’s future was at stake due to what it described as “undue emphasis” on religious and ethnic backgrounds of the presidential candidates and their choices of running mates.
The Forum, in a statement by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, titled, ‘Northern Elders Forum on worrying developments in Nigeria’s current Politics’, said: “We are deeply concerned over developments in many aspects of our politics as they relate to preparations for the 2023 elections and beyond. These developments threaten our already distressed democratic process.
“What is at stake is more than an election. It is the survival of our country. The prospects of safe conduct of electoral activities and a free and fair election are being threatened by the conduct of our politicians. We must find the resolve and the strength to step back and pull the nation away from its current precarious position. Our politics now operates outside safe and tolerable boundaries, and the nation will pay dearly for the desperation and limitations of those who ought to show leadership and responsibility among our politicians.
“It is not responsible to resist the urge to caution politicians only on the ground that many matters that will impact on our lives and the quality of our national existence are purely internal affairs of political parties.
“The search for a running mate for the APC’s Presidential candidate with religious faith of two individuals as the sole issue at stake represents a sad reminder that our politicians will not allow our democratic system to grow beyond the narrowest of confinements.
“Nigerians take their faith seriously, but we are also painfully aware that the faith of our leaders has never been a factor in the manner we are governed.
“The political maneuvers in the APC now divert attention from serious issues around the quality of governance, and point to the danger that we are a multi religious country whose citizens will pay dearly if one politician is not a Christian or Muslim.
“The melodrama around selection of the PDP’s Presidential candidate’s running mate, and the role of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike will remain constant reminders that power and wealth, irrespective of how they are acquired, have made our political process its hostage. The ransom that will be paid to free our democratic process may be such that the nation cannot afford.
“Our nation is being carved into strongholds controlled by powerful individual politicians who must be placated at all cost, and we will pay a huge price if these politicians succeed in stamping their personalities into the democratic process.
“Among a handful of other parties with the potential to make a difference, ethnicity and greed are threatening to frustrate the emergence of a nation with the capacity to turn around its fortunes in 2023.”
“Other leaders representing particular interests compound our worries with periodic threats and ultimatums that an already weakened leadership has no solution for.”
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