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The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) says by 2023 the North will only support candidates with genuine commitment to deal with its problems and political will to meet the region’s aspirations.

This is contained in a statement by the Convener, NEF, Ango Abdullahi in Zaria, Kaduna State on Sunday.

He said: “The forum has observed that political manoeuvres around the 2023 elections are targeting the North as a region available for exploitation.

“We want to make it clear that people of the North will be very careful in committing to persons seeking their support on the basis of their region or wealth.

“The North knows its interest and will stand together to elect only persons who meet the standards and interests of the people of the North.

“No politicians should assume they are entitled to our support unless they show a clear understanding and a commitment to deal with our problems and meet our aspirations.”

On national security, Mr Abdullahi called for the injection of higher level of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner Nigerian security agencies deal with security challenges.

“We appeal to our religious leaders and fellow citizens not to fall into the trap of insurgents to set us up against each other.

“We condemn the tactic of targeting Christians and publicising their executions by an insurgency seeking to exploit our different faiths.

“We also condemn the murder of thousands of Muslims and Christians in communities which the insurgency has made permanent target in the last decade.

“These are times when we must unite and resist a common enemy as well as demand that our leaders protect us all as Nigerians,” he advised.

According to him, the forum supports the idea of improving the policing capacity of the nation, emphasising that all initiatives to improve public safety must be accommodated within the law.

He recommended the adoption of a more vigorous and inclusive process which would result in the creation of acceptable frameworks and confidence among all communities with respect to policing strategy.

The Convener said the forum extended its hand at any group willing to discuss this important matter, assuring that it would utilise its entire assets to collaborate with other groups to achieve an understanding on the way forward.

“We advise government to exercise higher levels of restraint and responsibility in the manner they respond to the challenges of improving our security and safety.

(NAN)

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