Ex-Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Chairman Paul Unongo, yesterday defended the choice of former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Bala as northern consensus candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking with journalists in Jos, Unongo said their endorsement was meant to enhance the unity of the North. On controversy over the endorsement, the elder statesman said the decision was taken in the interest of the North, particularly North Central.
He said: “Both Saraki and Bala stood out. We felt that a former Senate President and two-term governor of Kwara state and performing governor of Bauchi State would be better choice for the North. We felt we should present the two and let them choose among themselves.
With somebody from the Middle Belt that is Senator Bukola Saraki, we felt he was qualified for the interest and unity of the North. Northern Elders Forum has competent elders, I cannot speak for those that are not there when the decision was taken but by the people I saw there, I felt everyone was represented.
“I was there. Professor Ango Abdullahi was there and many others and we gave our views. If our able and qualified elders like Yahaya Kwande felt we didn’t do well, they can go ahead and submit their own fresh names and we shall look into it but we felt we have represented all members. “We are looking at it from the point of view of keeping the North united and making everybody have a sense of belonging.
The decision was taken within the context of what is the best for the Middle Belt and the North at large and was correct in terms of practical applications and past experience.