2023 Parley With Presidential Candidates: We Were Not Bankrolled By Atiku, Arewa Elders Reply Kwankwaso 

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*warns against exploitation of ethnicity, religion 

By; IBRAHIM ADAMU,  Kaduna

Arewa Joint Committee has denied being sponsored by a leading northern presidential flag bearer as alleged by presidential candidate of the  New  Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

Kwankwaso who was one of the six presidential candidates invited for the interactive session, declined, saying  that the organaizers were sponsored by a leading Northern presidential candidate in a disguise to endorse the contestant’s candidature.

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku ABUBAKAR whose popularity has continued to soar, is suspected to be the candidate Kwankwaso may be referring to,  an allegation debunked by the group in a communique signed by Chairman of the steering committee, Malam Murtala Aliyu and issued to newsmen on Tuesday in Kaduna.

Aliyu declared  that the interaction was not organized to endorse any candidate, but rather he noted, it was done in good faith as a part of longer process to extract commitment from those wishing to preside over the affairs of Nigeria, so they could be held responsible if found wanting after the 2023 election.

“Between Saturday 15 and Monday 17, we hosted five of the six candidates who had accepted to participate in the interactive session, but one candidate chose not to participate.

“We are grateful to candidates who honoured our invitation by submitting themselves to scrutiny of Northern elders and other groups,  before the glaring eyes of the media and members of the public.

“The interactions demonstrated once again, the strong bonds of unity amongst the people of the North,  represented by the collaborating groups and our commitment to the search for quality leadership out of many candidates who want our support. 

“The process afforded Nigerians the rare opportunity to hear and see Candidates speak about their plans and vision for the country .

“The platform also provided the chance for shared ideas and focus attention on peculiar problems of the north and possible ways of solving them .

“The bar was raised in our search for leadership anchored on respect for accountability and competence. 

” We plan as soon as possible, to extract and publish these commitments from the featured candidates so that Nigerians may evaluate and measure candidates against them.

“Our goal is to afford citizens the opportunity to match candidates against their commitments to matters that are central to the interest of the North .

“Until the election in February, 2023 the North is challenged to raise its vigilance over all electoral activities with the aim of prioritizing competence, integrity, quality of preparation and commitment to address the challenges of the North among candidates.

“The need to show restraint and discipline as politicians canvass for our votes has never been more pressing and therefore, the entire nation must be open to all contestants and above all, free from violence.

“The exploitation of ethnic and religious fault lines is extremely dangerous and the nation is already showing signs of stress owing to this exploitation,” the communique warned. 

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