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All parties should zone presidency to South - Southern, Middle Belt leaders advised

 By Our Correspondent

As the 2023 Presidency hots up, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has warned that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South ahead of 2023 should not expect support from the region.

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This was contained in a communique after its meeting in Abuja on Thursday. According to the SMBLF, 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 president of the country for the full statutory period of eight years by 2023, “hence, the presidency should rotate to the South.”

In the communique, signed the leader of the forum, Chief Edwin Clark; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere; Professor George Obiozor, President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Dr Pogu Bitrus, National President, Middle Belt Forum (MBF), SMBLF “advices that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.”

It said “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, saying: “It must be one nation, one system.”

The SMBLF also condemned “the continued senseless killing of innocent citizens across the country by terrorists and criminals, especially in the North West Zone” and called on the government and security agencies to redouble efforts to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians. It urged 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 to commit to the subject of restructuring.

It reaffirmed its 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, 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, Professor George Obiozor, Dr Pogu Bitrus, and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, national chairman of 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 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, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, Professor G. G. Darah, Solomon Asemota, SAN, Dr Alex Ogbonna, Mr Mac Emakpore, Chief Douyi Douglas-Naingba, Mrs Nella Andem-Rabana, SAN, Professor Chinwe Obaji, Major-General Henry Ayoola (rtd), Mr Ben Akaakar, Dr Ebun Sonaiya, Mr Jare Ajayi, Ken Robinson, among others.



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