The Coalition of Peace and Justice Advocates (COPJA) has rejected insinuations in certain quarters that the decision of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) to endorse Bukola Saraki and Bala Mohammed for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket has put a nail on the ambition of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The Coalition in a statement by its Chairman, Hon Yakubu Tsala, said the main opposition party has not told anyone that it is interested in any consensus arrangement “which is in fact an euphemism for imposition of unpopular candidates being practised by the APC, and also a lazy way of gaining positions through the backdoor.”
COPJA, an advocacy group which has for years been in the forefront of the fight for a better deal for the northeast and other disadvantaged parts of the country, said “the stake of the 2023 polls is too high and far beyond some flippant decisions that two people can just take in the comfort of their living rooms.”
“The announcement on Friday by the Norther Elders Forum (NEF) came to us as a surprise because neither the generality of northern Nigerians nor the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gave Ango Abdullahi and Hakeem Baba-Ahmed the mandate to help them choose the flagbearer of the main opposition party for the 2023 presidential election.
“Even more surprising is the ridiculous claim in some quarters that the decision of NEF has ended Atiku Abubakar’s aspiration since only Bukola Saraki and Bala Mohammed were chosen as northern consensus candidates for the PDP. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
“Aside the fact that this is a self-imposed mission that will lead to nowhere, Atiku Abubakar, being a renowned democrat and a man who believes in fair competition as well as freedom and multiplicity of choices, was never part of the consensus sham in the first place.
“The consensus charade was championed by interested parties who are too timid to face the hurdle of primaries and are looking for a way out through the backdoor. We insist that the future of this country and the future of our children should not be decided through such a ridiculous process,” the statement read in part.
The group argued that the unity, prosperity and corporate existence of Nigeria which Atiku is very passionate about can not be thrown away just like that because of the inordinate ambition of a few politicians.
“Atiku is very much in the race. He is waxing stronger every day, meeting delegates and convincing party leaders and stakeholders that he is the best man to take the party back to the Villa. The former Vice President is also meeting youth and women groups daily and a lot of them are with him in his bid to replicate the success he has made from his expansive business and philanthropy, in the Nigerian economy and social life as President of the Republic,” the statement concluded.