Five top socio-cultural organisations on Sunday endorsed Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They are: the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum (MBF).
A faction of Afenifere, led by Ayo Fasanmi, endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari last week while the general secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Uche Okwukwu, has been suspended by the body for backing the president, who is flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The organisations said Atiku has shown that he will restructure the country if given the mandate, accusing Buhari of not showing interest despite setting up a restructuring committee headed by Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state.
The groups accused Buhari of succeeding in emphasising ethnicity and religion in his administration, lamenting the high level of insecurity and constitutional crisis.
The elders said the administration had been dealing with perceived enemies under the guise of fighting corruption,, adding that all they had seen in the last three years is blame game.
Ango Abdullahi, convener of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), said Nigeria is at a cross roads, attributing the endorsement of Atiku to principles reached a year ago.
“The reality is that we have to fish for a president among the two major parties, the ruling and the main opposition,” he said.
“It is clear that the country requires a new leadership and this is why the Northern elders Forum which I lead is in agreement that a new leader should emerge and that leader is Atiku Abubakar.”
Responding to government’s attacks following criticism of the administration, Abdullahi said, “It is unfair to accuse us of vested interested on issues that ought to be of concern to every Nigerian irrespective of tribe and religion. Nothing is farther from the truth that some of us are being frustrated because we have been denied of contracts or appointments.
“We are yet to receive a reply to a letter challenging the government to name any of our colleagues who have asked for contracts.
“Today, our focus is on free, fair and credible elections without which the image of the country will never rise above where we are today. Where we are today, for a country with our size in Africa, so endowed with the kind of resources we have, where we are today is because of crisis of leadership. This election is about serious changes in the kind of leadership we deserve.”