2023: We must move beyond ethnicity, failed leadership affects all Nigerians — Baba-Ahmed

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Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), says Nigerians need to move beyond ethnic or religious sentiments during the 2023 presidential election.

His statement comes amid criticism over his recent remarks at the maiden edition of the Maitama Sule lecture series, held on Monday, at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state.

At the lecture, he had said the north will not succumb to intimidation on not taking a shot at the presidency in 2023, adding that the region has the votes to produce the next president.

His statement also came days after the southern governors said the next president must come from their region.

Speaking on Tuesday when he featured on The Morning Show, an Arise Television program, Baba-Ahmed said the demands by the southern governors were not presented properly.

“There is nothing about the north that says it has something against the southern presidency. We understand people who keep saying ‘if you want justice, equity, and peace in the country, you must bring a southern presidency’. What we say is, that is not the way to ask for a southern presidency,” he said.

“You cannot threaten us with violence and intimidation. We can read the constitution; we know what it takes to be the president. You have to score at least 25 percent in 24 states. There are no 24 states in the north, which means no northerner can become president unless he gets support from the southern part of the country.

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By the same token, no southerner can become president unless he gets support from the north. We understand this; we are not ignorant. We know there will be a time when someone from the south will become president.

But it must be a president that will emerge through the political and electoral process. He must be a president that southerners and northerners both like and vote to make him or her president.

He must be a Nigerian president, not an ethnic president, not a regional president, not a religious president.

We have learned a lesson from the north about this tendency to say ‘only one of our own. We are in trouble today because one of our own has put us in serious trouble. And if the north doesn’t believe that, they should just look around.

Leadership has failed Nigerians, not just northerners. What we are trying to say is that ‘don’t let us keep going back. If this country becomes a hostage of primordial and limiting past, we are in trouble — all of us.

If we can’t move beyond ethnicity and religion and think of one country and create citizens of equal rights, then I’m afraid all we are going to do is go in circles and keep repeating the same mistakes we are making.”

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