The Northern Elders Conscience (NEC) has rejected the call by 11 northern governors for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone its presidential ticket to the south.
In a statement signed by its chairman, Alhaji Sabo Mohammed, the group described these governors as traitors who have sold the future of the region for their selfish interests.
Recall that the decision to transfer power to the south was taken at a meeting of the governors on Saturday night in Abuja.
The Northern governors also asked aspirants from the region to withdraw.
Among the governors who signed a communique issued after the meeting are Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State; Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger; Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa; Prof. Umara Zulum, Borno; Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna; Muhammad Yahaya, Gombe; and Bello Matawalle, Zamfara State.
Others are Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Dr. Umar Ganduje, Kano; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
But rejecting this stance, the northern elders said the governors can’t decide for the entire region.
According to Mohammed, zoning negates the standard norms of democracy, noting that delegates should be allowed to pick candidates of their choice.
He said northerners have equal rights as their southern counterparts and it will be unfair to force qualified aspirants to withdraw all because of their own ambition.
“Candidates should be allowed to contest elections on the basis of merit and their competence. Merit should be the yardstick to get the country’s next president, the position should be open to standard norms of the democratic process,” Mohammed said.
He added that” the fundamental rights of all political parties to field candidates of their choices, and the right of voters to freely exercise choices over who leads them cannot be compromised.
“Northerners have equal rights to aspire to all offices, but they must raise competence, evidence of personal integrity and commitments to the rule of law above all other considerations.
“The fundamental rights of all political parties to field candidates of their choices, and the right of voters to freely exercise choices over who leads them cannot be compromised.
“Northerners have equal rights to aspire to all offices but they must raise competence, evidence of personal integrity and commitments to the rule of law above all other considerations.”
They also noted “the desperate condition of the economic existence of most Northerners, poses additional threats to security and the democratic process”, stressing, “It recommends that leaders should avoid pushing the population into deeper poverty and desperation with challenging economic policies and lack of empathy.”
“ Government, at all levels, should consider a form of the structured welfare system to alleviate poverty in the populace.”