Secretary General, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Anthony Sani has said that the Forum will promote quality candidates for the 2019 presidential election.
In this interview with NOAH EBIJE, in Kaduna, Sani said promotion of candidates has become necessary in order for the electorate to vote wisely on election day for better leadership.
ACF recently set up political committee and other committees. What is expected of the political committee towards 2019 election?
It is not only political committee but also committees on agriculture, education and research and planning out of 12 standing committees in the constitution of ACF, which are expected to be functional. We hope to inaugurate the remaining ones as time goes on.
The standing committees in ACF are for purposes of doing research work needed for informed decisions by ACF while performing its role as a pressure group in the hope of making good things to happen and to prevent bad ones from happening. The other role of ACF is to promote unity of the North through peaceful coexistence. This involves breaking barriers and building bridges across constituencies in the North. The committees are to help ACF on how best to make desires possible and then actual.
Northern politicians like Atiku Abubakar, Sule Lamido, among others are warming up to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential race. Is ACF comfortable with fellow northerners running against Buhari?
ACF exists to promote democracy premised on triple foundation of liberty, justice and common decision. The forum does not promote cleavages of the nation along ethnic and religious lines. And that is why during the first republic, there were NPC, NEPU and UMBC in the North. Also in the second republic there were NPN, PRP and GNPP with their presidential candidates in the North. What ACF does is to promote desired personal qualities that can bring about purposeful leadership. It is left for the electorate to use these qualities in the candidates for the purpose of informed voting on election day.
Some Nigerians believe that ACF is not actually representing northern interest, but the interest of few influential northerners. What is your reaction to this?
Such allegations are vociferous bunkum precisely because ACF does not prevent any northerner of 18 years and above from registering as member of ACF. Anybody who makes such allegations does not know about ACF and how it works.
ACF must have felt embarrassed when the alleged cabals in the presidency are believed to be mostly northerners. What is your reaction?
Why should ACF feel embarrassed by allegations that are neither here nor there. The constitution is clear on what constitutes government, to wit, a cabinet of ministers in which each state must be represented by at least one minister. The constitution knows personal staff are those who help the president with his daily work.And that is why the constitution does not provide that such staff be subject to confirmation by the Senate. The motive for regarding such staff as cabal may be understood but not acceptable.
President Buhari is reported to be warming up to reshuffle his cabinet after two years in office. Is this not too early?
President Buhari is the one who works with the ministers and knows them. Only he can tell whether it is necessary to reshuffle them or not. It is not for me to tell him whether it is time to reshuffle them or not.
ACF is known for sympathy and condolence messages to whom it might concern, particularly within the North. What has the forum done to secure the release of the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki?
I have told you, ACF does not promote cleavages of the nation along ethnic and religious lines. To expect ACF to pressure authorities to release northerners who have cases because such people are northerners is most unfair and unkind.
Don’t you see Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Northern Elders Council (NEC) as a duplication of ACF?
ACF has no authority to bar any platform. And that is why there are many of such platforms which members are also members of ACF, that is the umbrella body for the North. As long as they do not pose any challenges to the umbrella body, there is no qualm.