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By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
As Nigerians prepare to elect a new president next year, Northern youths said on Wednesday that they were yet to decide on who to support between incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and his major challenger, Atiku Abubabakr.
The leader of the Northern Emancipation Network, Malam Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, who made the revelation in an interview with Vanguard on Wednesday in Abuja, described as hasty the claims and counter claims in certain quarters that the north has settled for a consensus candidate between Buhari and Atiku.
Suleiman said, “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 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 to a large extent, the integrity of the candidates involved in the election.
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 haste. They should allow their decision to be informed by commitment of each of the candidates to the fate of the North.
“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 by the people. On the other hand, Atiku must give convincing clarifications on the myriad of moral bankruptcy issues raised against him as well as make available whatever alternative programmes he has for the region. All these have not yet 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 all the 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 utilize them for human progress,” Suleiman said.