A group of Northern Christians led by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has thrown its weight behind Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition.
The group, under the aegis of Northern Leaders Consultative Forum (NLCF), made this known in Abuja on Friday.
Atiku, who is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his deputy presidential candidate.
But the All Progressives Congress (APC) has Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shetima, both Muslims, on its presidential ticket, triggering protests from some APC leaders of the Christian faith in the North.
The protest of the Northern Christian group was spearheaded by Mr Dogara and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, who declared his support for the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Mr Lawal on 24 November endorsed the candidacy of Mr Obi, prompting Mr Dogara’s disapproval.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Lawal based his support for Mr Obi on the grounds that “the Obi/Datti will give us breath of fresh air and the greatest opportunity to redeem our country from the quagmire into which we have been plunged by a recurring group of self-centred reactionaries.”
On Friday, the NLCF chaired by Mr Dogara adopted Mr Abubakar at a meeting in Abuja.
How Atiku was adopted
NLCF said it considered and adopted recommendations contained in a report of the Northern Leaders Technical Criteria Committee (NLTCC) chaired by Kumalia Mohammed, with Mela Nunge as Secretary.
Presenting the report to the meeting, a former deputy governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba, said the NLTCC was set up to analyse the chances of the four leading political parties and recommend which to be supported.
Mr Achuba said the four political parties – APC, PDP, the Labour Party (LP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), were considered based on their ability to forge national cohesion.
The report, while recommending the choice of the PDP, said from all indications, the PDP “seems to be above board in every criterion as postulated.”
“It is nationalistic in spread even though not free from internal crisis like each of the other political parties.
“If the momentum is aggressively sustained, it will be the party to reckon with.
“From the above evaluation and analysis, it is evident that the APC is heading for implosion and extinction; hence it cannot be the party for now and in the future because of its rejection to embrace inclusiveness in a diverse country like Nigeria.
“After the 2023 elections, APC may be dead and buried as a political party.
“While the duo of NNPP and LP may emerge as strong contenders in the political arena in the future, from all indications, PDP appears to be the best option to adopt and support.
“All it takes is to sustain and tackle some of the problems and challenges this country is facing.
“Certainly, with proper consultations and inclusive appointments, which is mindful of the Federal Character principles with sincere consideration of diverse issues such as religious affiliation, geographical location and ethnic identity, which many believe will enhance justice, fairness and equity.
“After a careful evaluation of all the issues highlighted above, we hereby recommend for the adoption of the PDP, to all lovers of democracy in Nigeria, for the 2023 presidential election.
“However, this should be subject to getting the necessary assurance from the party to run an all-inclusive government, details of which shall be discussed with the leadership of the party in the nearest future.”
After listening to contributions from some members of the group, including former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Muktar Shagari, the meeting adopted Atiku.
Mr Dogara said his group’s support for Atiku “is to ensure equity and promote peaceful coexistence in the country.”
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