By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Northerners have been urged not the repeat the mistake of 2015 where the North, for the first time ; closed all religious and ethnic gaps and voted in one direction with incredible expectations that leaders they elected will get them through and out of their limitations around security and the economy.
Speaking at a Sensitization rally organised by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) at the Arewa House Kaduna on Thursday, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Spokesperson of the CNG, said indeed the North made a mistake in 2015 so that the deliberate commission or omission of the people they trusted with power has inadvertently isolated the region politically, economically and socially as a result of which, the once portent and progressive region is today begging not only for food, but for a place in the nation’s future political arrangement.
According to him, “the North has been abandoned to a critical security situation with its women widowed, children orphaned, youths maimed and killed and people displaced by the thousands. The simple explanation for the region’s current predicaments is that, its self-centred leaders merely misused all those decades of power for self -serving purposes at the expense of the majority that was and still is being forced through deprived education systems, poor health conditions and wage labour.”
“The CNG is today urging you to be less reliant and less amenable to divisive political party propaganda and empty promises that have never, and would never be kept. If the price of voting along religious, ethnic or sectional sentiment is to become the most wretched, the most distressed, derided and most deprived, the North must therefore sincerely begin to ask itself if that price is worth paying.”
He told the gathering that the coming round of fresh elections in 2023 has a very special meaning, because Nigerians will not merely vote to transfer power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, “but we are going to vote to transfer power from a bankrupt elite, and give it back to the people.”
‘For too long, a small group of condescending elite has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. These people and their families have flourished, but the people did not share in the nation’s wealth. Politicians and leaders we have elected have prospered, but the bulk of us are left jobless, homeless, helpless and hopeless.”
“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. And while these elite celebrate with their families celebrated in world capitals, there has been nothing to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. “
“2023 would be special because the only thing that will truly matter to Citizens is not which party or which candidate controls our government in future, but whether our government is controlled by the people”
“At the center of this sensitisation initiative by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) is a crucial conviction that a nation must exist to serve its citizens. We northerners in particular, want good schools for our children, secure and safe environments for our families, and good jobs for ourselves.”
“These are just and reasonable demands of a people in a region from where politicians extract the bulk of their winning votes, but for too many of Northern citizens a different reality exists today: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities and towns, businesses are closing, dead factories scattered across the landscape, an education system which leaves our young and industrious students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed the North of so much unrealized potential,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, the National Coordinator of CNG, said the 2023 Election Sensitization conference with the theme “Politics of Sentiments, A critical factor militating development of democracy in Nigeria and Subtheme: Religion and ethnic tolerance, panacea to Nigeria’s survival as a nation” was organized by the Coalition of Northern Group to help them retrace their steps and refocus their energies in the delicate task of nation-building to which they are committed.
“We count ourselves privileged and pleased to be part of the conference. We Salute and congratulate the organizers, the Kaduna State Chapter of CNG. Through their efforts, our region and its people see new challenges in the old and lingering problems.”
“If we must refrain, as we must, from doing violence to the memories of the fathers of our region, the men who fought for our independence across the length and breadth of this country, men without whose dedication and commitment the social and political history of Nigeria would have been other than what it is today, then genuine efforts must continue to be made to bring us together in a collective renewed effort at making our region that region we all individually dream of. “
“When a multi-ethnic and multi-religious region such as ours faces increasing crisis of confidence engendered by years of frustrations and disappointments, the temptation to seek refuge in the comparatively safe haven of ethnicity and religion is almost obligatory. When people, out of fear, ignorance or suspicion or a lethal combination of all three, retreat into this ethnic and religious enclaves, their immediate enemies are other tribes and those of a different religious persuasion who, only a while ago, were their best friends. “
“When Ethnic and religious intolerance replaces tolerance and understanding. The society can not prosper. Today, we see this scenario playing itself out across our region on a regular basis, raising fears about the continued existence of North as a one United region. The shadow of ethnic and religious intolerance lengthens; the shadow of understanding is growing shorter. “
We have no fears that the forces of unity will continue to defeat the forces of disunity in our region because, despite the loud and strident voices of the evil little men, they are outnumbered by good men and women. But by merely piling pious hope upon pious hope we cannot hope to defeat the forces of intolerance. We cannot afford the luxury of such naivety any longer, given the ugly scars of ethnic and religious conflicts that confront us in various parts of the region. A Conference such as this is a good beginning. It sends the right message that concerned citizens of our country have ears that hear and eyes that see. We must encourage more of it in various parts of the region. And we can be sure that slowly but surely, we will bridge the widening ethnic and religious divide,” he said.
Notable speakers at the rally included among others, Pastor Yohanna Buru, representative of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, and Dr. Abdullahi Gwandu from the Kaduna Polytechnic