2023: Southern, Middle Belt leaders insist on zoning, rotation of presidency

ABUJA — AHEAD of the Presidential primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and other political parties for the emergence of a flag-bearer, Leaders of thoughts, elder statesmen from four of the six geo-political zones of the country, under the aegis of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF have again cautioned against jettisoning zoning.

The leaders have warned that the reported permutations by the main political parties to foist Northern Presidential Candidates on the nation would be a grave misadventure, with grim consequences on national concord and harmony.

They reiterated their calls on all politicians and professionals from the South not to accept, on any account, the position of Vice President, as that would amount to a shameful committal of present and future generations of Southern Nigeria to senseless political vassalage.

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The leaders of the Middle- Belt, Ndi- Igbo( Ohaneaze), Pan Niger Delta who asked the APC and the PDP in particular not to violate its own constitution, firmly reiterated their position on the Principle of Zoning and Power Rotation between the North and the South, as the basis on which the Nigerian Federation has, since Independence, been premised.

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting of the Elders and leaders in Abuja, they stressed unequivocally that the Zoning and rotation of the Presidency of Nigeria are fundamental to the future existence of the Country.

The statement was signed by Chief Edwin Clark as the Chairman of the groups and leader of PANDEF; Chief Ayo Adebanjo for Afenifere as the leader; Professor George Obiozor for Ohanaeze Ndigbo as the President- General and Dr. Pogu Bitrus for Middle Belt Forum as the National President and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman, PANDEF.

The leaders also condemned in very strong terms, obvious schemes by the two main political parties, the PDP and APC, ahead of their Presidential Primaries, to jettison the time-honoured principle of Rotation, which has traditionally served as the glue holding the Federal Republic of Nigeria together.

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The Communiqué read, “A Meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) was held on Thursday, 19th May 2022, in Abuja under the Chairmanship of the Leader and Elder Statesman, Chief Dr. E. K. Clark, OFR, CON.

“The Meeting deliberated extensively on the State of Nation, particularly the worsening insecurity; the 2023 General Elections; and recent troubling developments in the polity.

“Arising there-from, the forum: Firmly reiterates its stance on the Principle of Zoning and Power Rotation between the North and the South, as the basis on which the Nigerian Federation has, since Independence, been premised.

“States, unequivocally, that the Zoning and Rotation of the Presidency of Nigeria are fundamental to the future existence of the Country.

“Accordingly, condemns, in strongest terms, obvious schemes by the two main political parties, the PDP and APC, ahead of their Presidential Primaries, to jettison the time-honoured principle of Rotation, which has traditionally served as the glue holding the Federal Republic of Nigeria together.

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“ Warns that the reported permutations by the main political parties to foist Northern Presidential Candidates on the nation would be a grave misadventure, with grim consequences on national concord and harmony.

“Therefore, calls on all delegates of all political parties, and true lovers of democracy, as a sacred obligation, to reject Presidential Aspirants, or Candidates, from the North, and only vote for those from the South in the Party Primaries.

“Calls on all politicians and professionals from the South not to accept, on any account, the position of Vice President, as that would amount to a shameful committal of present and future generations of Southern Nigeria to senseless political vassalage.

“Further insists that, in observance of the principles of justice, equity, fairness and political inclusiveness, the South, and particularly, the South East Zone, being the third leg on which Nigeria’s political trajectory had revolved, should produce the next President of the Country in 2023. Insists that this would bring the Igbo quest for full reintegration and reconciliation, since the end of the Civil War in 1970, to full realisation.

“Forum condemns, in unmistakable terms, the killing of Miss Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a student of the College of Education, Sokoto, by her Muslim schoolmates and the wild spread of violence that engulfed the state, following the arrest of two of her killers. Denounces the worrisome disregard for the inviolability of human life by terrorists, criminals and religious extremists in the country.

“Likewise, strongly condemns the recent burning to death of a young man, a Sound Engineer, by commercial motorcyclists in Lagos, as well as the spree of killings and wanton destruction of properties and businesses owned by Southerners, particularly the occurrence, few days, at Dei Dei Market in Abuja.

“ Decries the unabating killings and destruction of livelihoods in the Middle Belt Region, especially in Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Southern Gombe, Benue, Taraba, etc, and the inaction of the Federal Government to live up to its Constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens.

“The Meeting resolved to resist, through all legitimate means, the barefaced attempts by religious fundamentalists to impose on the rest of us, a Nigeria of “one country, different laws”.

“ The Meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the people of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt to the RESTRUCTURING of the Country, in tandem with the Principles of True Federalism, as was established by the Founding Fathers of Nigeria.”

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