The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday advised the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to be temperate in language and circumspect in the way it intervenes in the ongoing political process as the electorate in northern Nigeria will not succumb to threats and intimidation in choosing candidates to support in the 2023 general elections. Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who gave the advice, expressed shock at a statement credited to the Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isuguzoro, in which the latter reportedly accused the North of playing ethnic and religious politics.
In a statement issued on behalf of the NEF, Baba- Ahmed described the position of the Ohanaeze- Ndigbo as both irresponsible and damaging to the interests of the South East. “At a time when wise counsel dictates that Nigerians should be circumspect and disciplined in the manner they interact with the electoral process, the juvenile utterances of Mr Isiguzoro must be condemned in the harshest terms.
“Mazi Isiguzoro singles out the North as the bastion of ethnic and religious politics while he unashamedly campaigns for an Igbo presidency, complete with the threat that Nigeria will not be secure and united unless an Igbo president emerges. “This damaging de-marketing of the prospects of an Igbo president will be hard to surpass. Nigerians and Northerners in particular, will not be impressed or blackmailed into making choices that are not informed by their own interests. On the contrary, they will notice that the apex Igbo organisation is virtually subverting one of its own, and blaming the rest of the country for the postures of political candidates,” he said. The spokesman of the NEF appealed to leaders and elders from across the ethnic and regional divides to show maturity and leadership as the political parties embark on campaigns that are, in themselves, fraught with threats and dangers.
Baba-Ahmed explained that the democratic system does not operate on the basis of threats and blackmail, and every eligible voter should be free to support and vote for any candidates of their choice next year.