A coalition of Southern and Middle Belt groups, the Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) has dismissed the position of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that the north has a numerical advantage over other regions and therefore, is capable of retaining the presidency in 2023.
NEF, through its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had, at an event on Saturday, said the north could retain the country’s presidency, irrespective of clamour by the South for the next president to come from the region, taking the population of the north into cognisance.
However, the coalition says the claims are both reckless and careless and does not hold water in the present political scheme in Nigeria.
In a statement issued on Monday, signed by SaMBA’s spokesman, Rwang Pam Jnr, the group posited that the NEF assertion lacked basis, wondering why a body of respected northern elders should resort to such lowly submission.
The statement made available to Ripples Nigeria reads:
“Let Dr Baba-Ahmed be reminded that without the Middle Belt, such numbers boasted about in the North are mere political posturing.
“It is disheartening that Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed will make such reckless and careless statement at a time, when we are still battling to keep the country united.
“One would have expected that the retired Permanent Secretary with his exposure and academic prowess, will choose his words carefully, but it is quite unfortunate that NEF will talk recklessly.
“It is certain that some liberal minded people in the North will be shedding secret tears as a result of the statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), because it is based on a delusion of a ‘one north’ that has treated the Middle Belt region as second class citizens.
“The so-called ‘north’ cannot boast of numerical strength to win election without reckoning with the strength of the Middle Belt and other northern Christians that have decided to work with their southern Nigeria counterparts to produce fresh and effective leaders for the country.
“Rather than boasting of numerical strength to win election, NEF should look for ways to turn the numerical strength to productivity.
“Nigeria is presently rated as the poverty headquarters of the world, because of poor standards of living in the region under the present leadership.
“We, therefore, urge liberal minded northerners to work with the Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) to produce a new crop of leaders in 2023 with the requisite competence, character and courage to usher Nigeria into the 21st century.”
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