NORTHERN leaders yesterday engaged in war of words over the allegation that the Presidency was behind the emergence of the newly-formed Northern Elders' Council, NEC, headed by former Presidential Adviser, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, whose office is alleged to have bankrolled the NEC has however denied sponsoring the group, arguing that there is nothing wrong with its formation and identification with the present administration.
The emergence of the NEC on the political arena, has altered permutations for the 2015 and divided the northern support for and against the presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan.
While NEC, which is reportedly backed by Sambo to drum support for him and Jonathan ahead of the 2015 poll, Northern Elders Forum, NEF led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi,is frontally opposed to Jonathan's re-election and is rooting for a northern President instead.
Prof Abdullahi told Vanguard yesterday that it was not surprising that those who had always worked against the interest of the north had gone ahead to float NEC all in a desperate attempt to truncate the political ambition of the region in 2015.
The former ABU Vice Chancellor said that it was also not surprising that some desperate individuals had gone against the decision of the north to back a northern presidential candidate in the next election to declare support for Jonathan.
Abdullahi said however that there was no need to fight against the decision by NEC to work for Jonathan since the people would decide at the right time how to actualise their goal of enthroning a northern president in 2015.
The NEF leaders said, "They (NEC) are advocates of Goodluck Jonathan for President in 2015 but we are advocates of a Nigerian president of northern extraction.
"The matter is before the public domain to decide between their position and that of NEC. The forces behind NEC formation have always been on the other side against the interest of the north."
But the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, had denied any involvement in the formation of NEC, saying that government was ready to work with any group or individuals who promote peace and unity.
The Special Adviser on Media to the Vice President, Sani Umar, made it clear that as the political head of the north, Sambo was open to work with all groups that are positive-minded.
Umar said, "The Vice President, who is the political leader of the North does not have any preference for a particular group, but is open to work with all groups that are willing to work for the progress and unity of Nigeria.
"We welcome the NEC because they have professed to promote the unity and progress of Nigeria and their mission statement is in tandem with what the government preaches."