By Hassana Yakubu
The Arewa Consultative Forum( ACF) says it has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari as its preferred candidate for the Feb. 16 presidential election.
The Acting Chairman of the Forum Alhaji Liman Kwande announced this on Tuesday at a news briefing in Kaduna.
Kwande expressed ACF’s belief that President Buhari deserves a second term to consolidate on his laudable achievements in the three years and eight months he took over the mantle of leadership.
ACF also calls on the politicians and their supporters as well as the electorate to eschew violence before, during and after the general elections.
“This is because violence is never a solution to any grievances. It not only destroys our democratic process but also lives and property. Democracy is a contest of ideas and reasons,” the forum said.
ACF also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to live up to its assurances to Nigerians that it will conduct credible, free and fair elections.
The Forum equally called on the police and other security agencies participating in provision of security during the polls to remain neutral and professional in their conduct.
“On the state of the nation, the forum in continuation of its role as the political compass of the North under the Chairmanship of Malam Adamu M. Fika Wazirin Fika, Chairman Board of Trustees of the Forum, at a meeting held on Feb. 12, has evaluated critical national issues, especially the political situation in the country and its attendant consequences for the continued peace, unity and progress of Nigeria.
”The ACF took note of the political situation as the nation was going into another round of elections, where tensions are heightened as a result of intense campaigns, lobbying and horse-trading among political actors.
“The ACF takes special note that major political parties have nominated prominent northerners, for the Feb. 16 Presidential Elections.
“The Forum has carefully studied the antecedents of major presidential candidates, the manifestoes and policy documents of their parties, alongside the need for social, political and economic stability in the country.
“The ACF is therefore, of the view that certain attributes such as clarity of thought, unity of purpose, content of character and morality of the candidates, their leadership qualities, performance and general acceptability of the candidates contesting for not only the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but also for other elective offices should guide voters in making their choices.
“The decision on who to elect should not be based on any form of inducements, mob hysteria, intimidation or false promises, but by calm and deliberate consideration of the candidates’ qualities of leadership, performance and moral standing in their public and private lives.
“Furthermore, other considerations such as capacity to tackle security challenges, fight corruption, and boost the economy by way of diversification away from over dependence on oil, by infrastructural development in order to promote growth.
“The integrity of the candidate to raise the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations is equally important in the election,” he explained.
“The ACF has noted the strides taken by the Buhari administration to improve and re-position the nation economically with the following examples: The multi-billion Dollar Mambilla hydro power project, the exploration of oil in Gongola Basin of the Benue trough, the Baro inland port, the North East Development Commission, the ongoing rail line projects nationwide, and other critical infrastructural development projects.”
It said that the forum’s endorsement of President Buhari was consequent upon the contributions of the present government to the economic and infrastructural development of the nation, and the government’s achievements in combating insurgency and other insecurity problems bedevilling the country.
ACF is Northern Nigeria’s foremost socio-cultural group with membership across the nineteen northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Since its inception in 2000, the Forum has been in the forefront in advocating for good and responsible governance, peaceful and harmonious coexistence amongst citizens, and equitable development of all sections of the country.
For about two decades the ACF has engaged in peace building, conflicts resolution and settlement of socio – political crisis within the region.