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NEF chair urges parties to throw presidential tickets open

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Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Convener Prof Ango Abdullahi yesterday called on political parties to throw the presidential race open. He pronounced power shift dead.

The elder statesman urged the parties to make the contest for the exalted office open to all aspirants across the country.

But former Vice President Atiku Abubakar felt he should be given the offer of first refusal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He called on political parties to forget the zoning of slot to a particular region, stressing that “power shift arrangement is already dead and buried”.

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Prof Abdullahi spoke yesterday at his Zaria, Kaduna home residence in Zaria when he hosted the leadership of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), who paid him a solidarity visit.

He argued that those seeking to contest for president should be allowed to do so on the merit of their competence and not where they come from, adding that such positions should be left open for standard norms of democratic process of ‘one man, one vote’.

The elder statesman, who disclosed that over 11 presidential aspirants cutting across various political parties had visited him in Zaria for advice, prayers and support, added that election of who becomes president should be left open and winner allowed to emerge regardless of where he or she comes from.

He said: “The issue of zoning or power shift is dead and buried, candidates should be allowed to contest election on the basis of merit of their competence and not where they come from, hence the Northern Elders Forum is of the opinion that the presidential position should be left open for standard norms of democractic process.”

On the controversial consensus process that produced former Senate President Bukola Saraki (Northcentral) and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed (Northeast) as North’s consensus candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he said four presidential aspirants started the process on their own.

“They met former military Head of State Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and told him they had concluded Consultations on possible consensus candidate but failed to arrive at one person and requested him to assist and he called me and few others.

“The aspirants insisted on us choosing from among them but we told them it was not possible. So, we consulted elders from across the Northwest, Northcentral and Northeast before Aminu Tambuwal withdrew from the process.

“But for the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, he did not present himself for the consensus move. Though, he was contacted by fellow aspirants, but he told them was not interested, because he already bought his nomination form.

“All elders voted for first and second choice and Bukola Saraki and Governor Bala Mohammed tied and both of them were asked to either pick one among themselves or do further consultation on the best among them and our recommendation was signed by me as Ango Abdullahi and not on behalf of NEF, a position I made very clear at a press conference I addressed in Minna.”

Lamenting what he called a collective failure, in the country, he challenged any one to a debate on the state of the nation, stressing that what is killing us is self-serving.

CNG spokesperson Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said: “We at the CNG will continue to look up to you as a great statesman, a mentor, a guardian, a living history and an embodiment of all the exemplary qualities young Northerners should strive to achieve.

“We finally urge you Sir, to remain steadfast in providing leadership for strong resistance to the antics of these political dealers desperately seeking to market the worst, unproductive, inefficient individuals with no record of credence in all their endeavours on the people as candidates from the North”.

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