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2023: Southern, middle belt leaders insist on power rotation

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The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has warned that any political party that does not zone its 2023 presidency to the south should not expect support from the region.

This was contained in a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

According to the forum, its position is based on the need to engender a fair and even sharing of power in the country.

It pointed out that the northern part of the country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency of the country for the full statutory period of 8 years by 2023, “hence, the presidency should rotate to the South.”

The communique said the forum “advises that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.

“Notes that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of power.”

The warning came after an extensive discussion of various issues on the state of affairs in the country, particularly, the security situation, Restructuring, preparations for the 2023 General Elections and Zoning.

The forum noted that the extant Constitution and structure of Nigeria are grossly flawed and lopsided, and therefore, restated its demand for the fundamental restructuring of the country by enacting a new Constitution that would enthrone equity, fairness and justice, noting: “It must be One Nation, One System.”

The SMBLF also condemned “the continued senseless killings of innocent citizens across the country by terrorists and criminals, especially in the North West Zone; calls on the government and security agencies to redouble efforts to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians.”

It cautioned the National Assembly to “only give consideration to Bills that would promote equity, justice, peace and national cohesion instead of issues that will exacerbate conflicts and crisis in the country.”

The forum urged state governors and members of the National Assembly of the four regions to commit themselves to the subject of Restructuring.

It reaffirmed commitment to the unity of Nigeria, “situated on the tenets of Equity, Fairness, Justice, and the principle of federalism.”

The communique said the meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace and unanimous commitment to the decisions.

According to the communique, in attendance at the meeting were delegations from the four regional socio-cultural organisations, that’s: Afenifere for the South West, Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the South East, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) for the South-South and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) for the Middle Belt.

The delegations were led by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere, Professor George Obiozor, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Pogu Bitrus, President of the Middle Belt Forum and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).

The meeting was also attended by former Governors, Ministers, federal and state legislators, top politicians and professionals from the Southern and Middle Belt regions, including His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu, Simon N. Okeke, OFR, Chief Supo Shonibare, Dr Akin Fapohunda, Amb. Okey Emuchay, MFR, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Prof. G. G. Darah, Solomon Asemota, SAN, Dr Alex Ogbonna, Mr Mac Emakpore, Chief Douyi Douglas-Naingba, Mrs Nella Andem-Rabana, SAN, Prof. Mrs Chinwe Obaji, Maj. Gen. Henry Ayoola (Rtd), Engr. Ben Akaakar, Dr Ebun Sonaiya, Comrade Jare Ajayi and Ken Robinson, among others.

The communique was signed by the leader of the forum, Chief Edwin Clark; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Leader, Afenifere; Prof. George Obiozor, President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Dr Pogu Bitrus, National President, Middle Belt Forum.

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