Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), says northern Nigeria will back a credible candidate from any region in 2023.
Baba-Ahmed said a presidential candidate produced through regional or religious considerations would not be accepted.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Sun, he said the current situation in the country does not require a leader produced by coercion or secession threats.
He said moves to occupy the presidential office through violence are counterproductive to peace and unity.
“We don’t want the president to emerge as a product of ethnic or religious pushes. We don’t want a president that will be answerable to a portion of Nigeria. We won’t accept it,” he said.
“The next president should emerge from a credible election from any part of the country but he or she must be first and foremost a Nigerian president. The north would back any credible candidate from the region who understands the problem, possesses the capacity to solve them (challenges) and can build bridges across the country.”
Ahmed said the north is just as concerned about the violence in the south-east as it is with insecurity in parts of the north.
He, however, said the north would not be intimidated by threats of secession ahead of the 2023 election and called on the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) to stop the violence in the region.
“We don’t want organised violence or threats to produce the president of Nigeria. Secession is a bad option for the south-east. It is not in the best interest of this country or anybody,” he said.
“Why should the federal government allow IPOB to strangulate five south-east states? If this administration does not have the capacity and willingness to ask this question, to deal with this problem, then the next administration should do so.”