Spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, has warned that the North will not play second fiddle in the 2023 presidential elections.
Ahead of the elections, there has been pressure on the two leading political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to present presidential candidates from the southern part of the country to replace President Muhammadu Buhari over claims of marginalisation.
But delivering a keynote address at the maiden Maitama Sule Leadership Lecture Series organised by the students wing of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), at the weekend, Baba-Ahmed said northerners are no second-class citizens.
He said the northerners have the numbers to win presidential elections so they should not accept a secondary role ahead of the elections.
“The North is not for sale and northerners will surprise those waiting for them to queue up in 2023 and be given money in exchange for their votes,” he said.
“We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before, whether we are President or Vice President, we will lead Nigeria. We have the majority of the votes and democracy says vote whom you want.
“Why should we accept a second class position when we know we can buy a form and contest for first class and we will win? Why does anybody need to threaten us and intimidate us? We will get that power, but be humble because power comes from God. We inherited leadership, being honest is not being stupid
Baba-Ahmed added that some parties are pitching the presidency against northerners because they believe the region can be explored due to the current insecurity challenges.
“There are Nigerians who believe that because the economy of the North is being crumbled; we are running away from insecurity, we are politically vulnerable, they think they can buy us for 2023 but they are making a mistake,” he added.
“We are ready for this; we will consider every economic adversity, challenge, we will fix the Northern economy and we are the only one who can fix this Northern economy. For that reason, we are not for sale. We are in the process of rebuilding the North and we will rebuild the North from 2023.
“Don’t accept second class status because you are a northerner. No northerner is a second-class citizen in this country. If we want to support a southerner, we will support a southerner because that will be in our own interest and we can decide for ourselves.”