Second Republic lawmaker, Junaidu Mohammed, has lampooned the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), led by former Ahmadu Bello University vice chancellor, Ango ABdullahi, over its purported endorsement of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday in Abuja, Mr Mohammed described the endorsement as “fraudulent and undemocratic”.
He said Mr Abdullahi had no mandate from the north, and wondered how the NEF members arrived at that position.
He said there was no decision taken by the NEF to go into alliance with other regional groups, or to endorse or pass vote of no confidence on anybody.
He challenged those who took the position to produce any resolution indicating that.
“To the best of my knowledge, the resolution for unanimous endorsement was never discussed, was never tabled before any level of committee of the Northern Elders Forum.”
Mr Abdullahi last week addressed a press conference alongside leaders of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, the Yoruba’s Afenifere Renewal Group, Middle Belt Forum and Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), where they endorsed Mr Abubakar.
But Mr Mohammed said though he has been an outspoken critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, he would not allow ‘unfairness’ to be meted out to him “through the back door”.
Mr Mohammed, who is a founding member of the NEF said the organisation had deviated from the principles of its formation as a non-political pressure group.
He said the group is factionalised with two factions pursuing selfish agenda.
“What the two factions in the Northern Elders Forum are doing is nothing but politics. Some are doing it, they claim, in the name of the North, the way the defunct ACF was doing. Some are doing for their own material benefit, some are doing it because they are desperately searching for relevance.”
He criticised the alliance between the NEF and other similar groups, saying the alliance was not in the interest of the North.
“Nobody can come and say he has taken the trouble to go and take us to Ohaneze, Afenifere and PANDEF, and so on, and take instructions from leaders of those organisations as if we are errand boys. We are not their colony.
“They are not enemies of Buhari, their own animosity is directed at the entire North and whether Buhari is doing right or wrong; and there are a lot of things he is doing wrong, it doesn’t matter to them. In fact, what Buhari does wrong is a facilitation to them, it allows them to justify their agitation and demand the impossible.
“For you to now follow the ebb and flow of political happenings in this country simply because you want to belong to group of people with whom you have divergent interests, in my view, is a disservice to whatever cause you stand for. That is why we are saying that this thing is unholy.”
He said the NEF lacked the standing to recommend anybody for any position “as members have divergent political opinions”.
He said even when the organisation wanted to mediate among northerners eyeing the PDP ticket, it failed, alleging that issues were disregarded on the altar of money politics.
“When they went to Port Harcourt, what I expected, or what most of people expected was it was going to be matter of money; cash and carry. Whoever has the most formidable financial muscle would emerge as the candidate, and that was what exactly happened.
“If you ask anybody who was at the convention, what are the issues discussed in terms of platform, no such discussions took place. They went with their musicians. Danced their native songs, went round to meet people and give them money, sometimes openly. That was how they emerged. And it started first like a bazaar—you price, somebody prices higher than you, and then somebody comes higher.”
Mr Mohammed said there was no way a candidate could be adopted unanimously by any group.
He also said their action amounts to perversion of democratic ethos.