By NBF News

In spite of the insistence and clamour by prominent individuals and platforms in the North for a candidate of northern extraction to emerge as president in the April presidential election, a coalition of groups in the North, Arewa Forum for Peace and National Development has said it would mobilise people from the three geo-political zones that make up northern Nigeria to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo to promote national unity and cohesion.

Addressing newsmen yesterday, National Coordinator of the group, Ishaq Mohammed El- Habib urged other northern leaders, particularly leadership of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) to support the candidature of President Goodluck Jonathan as a sacrifice for peace and unity.

'Politics is give and take. There are times you insist to hold on to power and times you make sacrifice. For us, this is the time for our people in the North to show magnanimity and give peace a chance by voting for President Goodluck Jonathan and Architect Namadi Sambo for the next four years,' El- Habib said.

According to the group, Nigeria must avert avoidable crisis by conceding to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, who is from the Niger Delta region. According to EL-Habib, the zone had in the past ensured victory for presidential candidates of northern extraction.

'The Niger Delta is the major source of revenue for Nigeria today and people from that region have been complaining that they have not been given opportunity to play frontal role in the governance of the nation. Now that a natural circumstance has influenced the emergence of their son in this position, the North should accept it as divine intervention to avert crisis.

'Our concern is that Nigeria faces a bleak future if we don't handle this matter with care. We should remember that Kuwait was part of Iraq but had to break up because of the complaint of Kuwaiti people that they were not allowed into the mainstream of Iraqi leadership for many years,' El- Habib recalled.

He said the situation in Nigeria today as it affects the Niger Delta was similar to what led to Kuwaiti break up from Iraq. 'The people of Niger Delta have been complaining that they are being marginalised in Nigeria in spite of the fact that their region is the source of the nation's oil wealth. It was on the basis of that also that their people resorted to militancy as a means to address the problem.

'We thank God that since the time of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua up till now, there has been relative peace in that region and normalcy in oil activities. It is our belief that the Niger Delta is calm today because one of theirs, Goodluck Jonathan is part of the administration. Let Nigerians therefore give the President a four year mandate so that the Niger -Delta people would have a true sense of belonging in the national project. This is especially so, as the President and his deputy are well- qualified to preside over the affairs of the nation,' the group concluded.

Other members of the coalition who attended the meeting include Michael Lalong Pategi of Northern Youths for Good Governance and National Growth (NYGGND), Alhaji Mumuud Ashaka Abubakar of the Arewa Forum for Peoples Welfare (AFPW) and Hajia Binta Shehu Umar who represented Northern Women for Peace and Security (NWPS), among others.