Imumolen calls out Arewa group over alleged move to endorse presidential candidate
The presidential candidate of Accord, Professor Christopher Imumolen, has demanded for a free, fair, transparent, and all-inclusive debate from the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) even as the foremost northern Nigeria group gets set to hold one this week in Kaduna for leading presidential candidates.
Imumolen, who is acting on claims made by the NNPP’s presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso, that the northern pressure group has concluded plans to use the debate to endorse a candidate for the 2023 general elections, said it is in the interest of the group to ensure a high level of transparency as they conduct the proposed debate.
“I am speaking against the background of allegations made by my fellow presidential candidate, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, who recently withdrew from the soon-to-be conducted debate by Arewa House, alleging there was a secret plot to use the event to endorse a candidate,” Imumolen said in Kaduna on Monday.
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“I want to believe this is not true, even though it is obvious that some of my colleagues who are flag bearers of other political parties haven’t been included.
“Well, let me say this: if the organisers want Nigerians to see the debate as credible, they must not be seen as shutting out any candidate. Everyone who deserves to be at the debate should be invited to present and defend their manifestos.
“Handpicking of a few candidates will not only tacitly give credence to the fears already expressed by Kwankwaso; it will also narrow down the options of our most discerning electorate who tend to make their choices from what they see.
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“Besides, nowhere in the world is a presidential debate a forum of endorsements for candidates. Arewa Consultative Forum will, therefore, be shooting itself in the foot by trying to do so, and thus showing its hand that it is sectional and biased in its outlook.
“Now, I am sure they can’t be expected to be taken seriously by those who had expected them to be apolitical, fair, and transparent in the conduct of a debate that has far-reaching implications for the future of our great country,” he added.
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The businessman and philanthropist would further urge the ACF to avoid the mistakes made by the Nigerian Bar Association and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry when they also staged similar debates recently.
“Arewa must do everything in its power to avoid the mistakes made by both the NBA and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry when they handpicked a few of the candidates to take part in their versions of the presidential debates during recent conferences in Lagos,” he said.