The Arewa Joint Committee that interacted with some presidential candidates ahead of the 2023 presidential election said on Tuesday that the event was not intended to endorse any particular candidate for the forthcoming election.
The Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, Jamiyyar Matan Arewa, Arewa House (Centre for Historical Development and Research), and Arewa Research Development Project make up the Arewa Joint Committee.
Candidate invited to the meeting were the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Peter Obi; the Peoples Redemption Party, Kola Abiola; the Social Democratic Party, Adewole Adebayo; the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the New Nigeria People’s Party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
But the leadership of the Arewa Joint Committee dismissed the claim, declaring that the exercise was never intended to endorse any presidential candidate.
The Chairman of the Joint Committee, Mallam Murtala Aliyu, who is also the Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, insisted at a media briefing in Kaduna on Tuesday that the interaction with the various presidential candidates was not for endorsement.
Aliyu explained that the exercise was part of a plan to generate a commitment to address the challenges of the region by candidates
According to report, Kwankwaso failed to turn up for the event, saying he chose not to participate while alleging that the Arewa Joint Committee had endorsed their preferred candidate.
“Only Atiku could clarify his comments on Igbo and Yoruba presidential candidates. We asked questions to which he responded, so we are not in a position to react to his comments in Arewa House,” he said.
The committee chairman added, “We are grateful to the candidates who honoured our invitation and who showed respect to public opinion and the Nigerian voters by submitting themselves to the most intimate scrutiny by northern elders and other groups, the media and the public.
“These interactions, the first of their type in the history of our country, have been a tremendous success. First, they demonstrated the strong bonds of unity of the people of the North, represented by the collaborating groups and our unquestioning commitment to the search for the best quality of leadership among the many candidates who want our support.
“Second, they showed a commendable level of respect for the democratic process by the candidates who submitted to the process.