The Northern Emancipation Network (MEN), a youth group, has said that it is yet to align with either of President Muhammadu Buhari or Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president, for the 2019 elections.
President Buhari is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Abubakar is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the leader of the group, Abdul-Azeez said it is still hasty for any group or individual to declare publicly that the northern block had arrived at a consensus with regards to either President Buhari or former Vice President Abubakar. According to him:
“Every Nigerian, northerners most especially, know that the factors that will determine 2019 are distinct from those that shaped the pattern of the 2015 elections.
“Unlike the previous contest, 2019 is going to be fought between two northerners of the same religious faith and both of the same Fulani stock.
“What may dominate the debate for 2019 would, therefore, be critical physical and human development issues for the north and integrity to a large extent.
“It is therefore hasty for any individual or group to claim that the north has agreed on a preferred candidate among the two. This is not to take away the right of individuals or associations to form opinions in accordance with their personal set of biases.
“The north and those individuals or groups that genuinely aim to promote and protect the collective interest of the region must not be in a hurry.
“They should allow their decision to be informed by the commitment of each of the candidates to the fate of the north”.
According to Abdul-Azeez, President Buhari and Abubakar must be able to show their scorecards for the northern youth to take them serious ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
He said that this would determine who the majority of the youth would give the mandate come 2019.
“President Buhari should make a comprehensive and articulate presentation of his efforts for the North in the last three years and the plans he has for the region, if given the second chance.
“On the other had Atiku must give convincing clarifications about the myriad moral bankruptcy issues raised against him as well as make available whatever alternative programme he might have for the region. All these have not been done.
“The fact that both candidates belong to the same old brigade that oscillated the total available activity of the region in one way or the other since independence, makes it more imperative for the younger generations to tread with caution.
“Young northerners who have all along been at the receiving end of every harsh reality should no longer be taken for a ride by staking their fate in the hands of self-appointed regional leaders and sectional elders, who themselves constitute a major hurdle in the path of the region’s progress in particular and the country to a large extent.
“To borrow from the words of a second republic politician, we are living today in times of great changes with the old order crumbling past and new systems of life and activity emerging.
“The task before the younger generation is therefore, to understand these changes and utilise them for human progress”.