Leaders of the Southern and Middle Belt zones of the country on the platform of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) have resolved not to support any party that does not field a southern presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
The leaders reached the decision at a meeting, which communique was signed by the leaders of the major 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, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Professor George Obiozor, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien and Dr. Pogu Bitrus respectively.
Also at the meeting, held in Abuja, which insisted on “fundamental restructuring of the country by enacting a new Constitution that would enthrone equity, fairness and justice,” were former Governors, Ministers, federal and state legislators, top politicians and professionals from the Southern and Middle Belt regions.
The meeting condemned “the continued senseless killings 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.”
Full text of statement reads:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A MEETING OF THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE BELT LEADERS’ FORUM HELD ON THURSDAY, 13TH JANUARY, 2022
A meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), held on Thursday, 13th January 2022 in Abuja under the Chairmanship of the Leader and Elder Statesman, Chief Dr. E. K. Clark, OFR, CON.
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, FNSE, National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF.
2. 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, 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.
3. 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.
4. Arising therefrom, the meeting resolved as follows:
i. 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;
ii. 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;
iii. THEREFORE, UNEQUIVOCALLY, AND IN FULL RESOLVE, CALL ON ALL POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE COUNTRY TO ZONE THEIR PRESIDENTIAL TICKETS TO THE SOUTH;
iv. Advices that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions;
v. 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;
vi. Condemns 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;
vii. Cautions 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.
viii. Urges Governors and members of the National Assembly of the four regions to commit themselves to the subject of Restructuring;
ix. Reaffirms commitment to the unity of Nigeria, situated on the tenets of Equity, Fairness, Justice, and the principle of federalism.
4. The meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace and unanimous commitment to the decisions.
5. Done in ABUJA, this 13th Day of January 2022.
Chief Dr. E. K. Clark, OFR, CON – Leader
Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere
Prof. George Obiozor – President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Dr. Pogu Bitrus – National President, Middle Belt Forum