From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has warned that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.
The leaders noted that sharing of power is fair and is the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of the meeting held on Thursday under the Chairmanship of the Leader and Elder Statesman, Edwin Clark.
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 communique was signed by Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere, George Obiozor – President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Dr. Pogu Bitrus – National President, Middle Belt Forum.
The delegations to the meeting 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. They include Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu, Simon Okeke, Supo Shonibare, Akin Fapohunda, Okey Emuchay, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Prof. G. G. Darah, and Solomon Asemota.
Others are Dr. Alex Ogbonna, Mac Emakpore, Douyi Douglas-Naingba, Nella Andem-Rabana, Prof. Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, Maj. Gen. Henry Ayoola (Retd), Ben Akaakar, Dr. Ebun Sonaiya, Comrade Jare Ajayi and Ken Robinson, among others.
The communiqué read thus: “The meeting extensively discussed various issues on the State of Affairs in the country, particularly, the security situation, restructuring, preparations for the 2023 general elections and zoning.
Arising therefrom, the meeting resolved as follows:
That the extant Constitution and Structure of Nigeria are grossly flawed and lopsided, accordingly, Forum restates its demand for the fundamental restructuring of the country by enacting a new Constitution that would enthrone equity, fairness and justice.*It must be One Nation, One System*;
“Cites 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;
“Therefore, unequivocally, and in full resolve, calls on all political parties in the country to zone their presidential tickets to the south;
“Advices 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;
“Condemns the continued senseless killings of innocent citizens across the country by terrorists and criminals, especially in the North West Zone; calls on the and security agencies to redouble efforts to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians;
“Urges members of the National Assembly and Governors of the four regions to commit themselves to the subject of restructuring;
“Reaffirms commitment to the unity of Nigeria, situated on the tenets of Equity, Fairness, Justice, and the principle of federalism.
“The meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace and unanimous commitment to the decisions.”