The Northern Elders Forum on Wednesday said it regretted backing then candidate Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 presidential election, instead of the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.
It claimed that Buhari had, since succeeding Jonathan, let down a majority of Nigerians who trusted in his leadership before the 2015 polls.
NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the forum wants the country’s next president to be one who would act in the “opposite direction” of the incumbent.
Baba-Ahmed, whose group called for Buhari’s resignation in December 2020, spoke on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme monitored by The Nation.
He said: “Is there any Nigerian who is not disappointed in President Buhari including diehard APC (All Progressives Congress) people? Is there anybody who would not tell you he wished President Buhari had done much better?
“We raised huge expectations, we told people, ‘Get rid of Jonathan, put Buhari there, he would fix corruption, he would fix insecurity, he would fix the economy’, (but) look at where we are now.”
“How can anybody say they are happy with the record of President Buhari? Even the people very close to him would tell you that they wished he could have done much better and he hasn’t.
“So, what we need to do now is to get ready to elect another President who would go in the opposite direction, a President who has a vision and a clear idea of what governance involves rather than just being a President.
“So, I am disappointed and that is why today, I am actively involved in trying to see that a new leader emerges in getting Nigerians a new lease of life.”
Jonathan, a former governor of Bayelsa State, was Vice-President between 2007 and 2010 and became president following the demise of then-President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010.
He contested the 2011 presidential election and won but failed in his bid to get re-elected four years later, losing to Buhari.
Following the clamour for a power shift to the South, Jonathan, who is currently Buhari’s Special Envoy to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is being courted by some politicians with an eye on the 2023 elections.
The National Secretary of the party’s Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, John Akpanudoedehe, confirmed Jonathan’s constitutional eligibility recently when he said the ex-president would get an opportunity to contest the 2023 presidency on the party’s platform if he decides to join the APC.
Baba-Ahmed, however, urged Southern governors not to negatively politicise the 2023 presidency, advising instead that they should instead negotiate as the North had lived under Southern Presidents — Olusegun Obasanjo and Jonathan — since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
He said: “We have lived under Southern presidents because we recognise that Nigeria is made up of sections, ethnic groups and interests. We recognise that we are northerners, pluralism is in our DNA; we accept that, we live with it.
“Don’t make the issue of the presidency a matter over which Nigerians would fight and threaten the country and the democratic process; that is very dangerous for this country.”
The NEF spokesman insisted that what Nigeria needs is a president who realises the need to rebuild the country, secure Nigerians and check the downward trajectory of the country’s economy.
“The nation needs a leader that would do the things that President Buhari hasn’t done, create inclusiveness, address resentment and frustration in other parts of the country and the north and speak and act for everybody,” he said.
However, he wrote off both the ruling APC and the leading opposition party, the PDP, saying they had no answer to what Nigerians want in a candidate in 2023.
According to him, “smaller parties” might have the answer and should be allowed to field candidates with the character and capacity to lead Nigeria from all its current travails.