The Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has said that elders in the North have not endorsed any of the presidential aspirants of both the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party for 2019.
He noted that their endorsement would be “strictly based on candidates’ manifestoes and not personalities.”
Yakasai, who said this during an interview with our correspondent, noted that Nigerians had made mistakes in the past, from former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari, by voting for personalities and not for the quality of programmes offered by the candidates.
He noted that northern youths, under the Coalition of Northern Youths, had a constitutional right to declare or withdraw their support for President Buhari or former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar.
Yakasai said he, as an elder at 93, would not meddle in the affairs of the youths.
The NEC chairman said the elders had also formed an association, the Northern Leaders and Stakeholders’ Assembly, an association which he said “was established to bring back sanity into politics.”
He said, “At 93, I am too old to align myself with youths. Yes, they are my children and grandchildren, but their level of understanding is quite different from mine. Be that as it may, the constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right of people to support or not to support anybody politically.
“The youths are exercising their rights if they say they are not going to support both Buhari and Atiku. I have no quarrel with that. They are exercising their fundamental human rights.
“As elders in the north, we know that all individuals contesting will run under a certain political party, as stated by the constitution and we have no candidate yet. We are waiting for the political parties to produce their candidates through the process provided for by the constitution. Then we will compare the qualities and programmes of the candidates.
“We will not support anyone, except based on the quality of programmes which he has to offer to Nigerians. In the past, we have been working in elections based on personalities, right from Obasanjo to Buhari. They were voted on the basis of their personalities, not their programmes, and they did nothing to Nigeria. They didn’t move Nigeria forward.
“So, we are waiting to see who and who the parties have to present to us. The criteria we will look out for in any presidential candidate are five; capacity, competence, vision, ability to plan and integrity to do what you promised to do; not to deceive people.”