2023: Exploitation of ethnic and religious faultlines Dangerous for Nigeria, Says Arewa Group 

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The Joint Arewa Committee has said that the exploitation of ethnic and religious fault lines is extremely dangerous for the polity.
The committee which organised the just concluded interactive session with President candidates, comprises of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP), Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation and Jamiyyar Matan Arewa (JMA).
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Kaduna, Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Murtala Aliyu, said, already signs of stress, owing to the exploitation of religion and ethnicity is telling.
“The exploitation of ethnic and religious fault lines is extremely dangerous, and the nation is already showing signs of stress owing to this exploitation”, Aliyu said.
He however said, the interactive session which with five Presidential candidates which held on Saturday and Monday, was an opporrunity for Nigerians to see and hear the candidates speak about their plans and vision for the country.
Aliyu who was the Chairman of the Steeeing Committee for the interactive session said, “Between Saturday October 15, and Monday 17, we hosted five of the six candidates who had accepted to participate in the historic interactions.
“One candidate chose not to participate. We are grateful to the candidates who honoured our invitation and who showed respect to public opinion and the Nigerian voter by submitting themselves to the most intimate scrutiny by Northern elders and other groups, the media and the public”.
According to him, the interactions, which is the first of its kind in the history of the country, had been a tremendous success.
He said, “First, it 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 out of 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.
“Third, it afforded Nigerians a rare opportunity to see and hear candidates speak about their plans and vision. “Four, it helped to focus attention on the peculiar and shared problems and challenges of the North and scrutinize the levels of understanding and sympathy for them among the candidates.
“Finally, they raised the bar in our search for leadership that respects accountability and competence”.
Aliyu said the interaction was not planned with the goal of endorsing a candidate.
“We plan to extract and publish these commitments, so that Nigerians may measure and evaluate candidates against them. Our goal is to afford citizens an opportunity to match candidates against their commitments to matters that are central to the interests of the North.
“Until the elections in February, 2023, the North will be challenged to raise its vigilance over all electoral activities.
It is vital that we prioritize evidence of competence, integrity, quality of preparation and commitment to address the challenges of the North among candidates.
“We will continue to invite attention of the government to the security of the electoral process, and in particular, the vulnerability of many parts of the North to organized crime which may pose a serious threat to their rights to participate in electing the next set of leaders in 2023”, he said.
He called on politicians to show restraint and discipline as they go about canvassing for votes.
“The entire nation must be open to all contestants and free from violence”, he added.

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