The leaders of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum (SMBLF) on Sunday criticized the Peoples Democratic Party for jettisoning zoning in the 2023 presidential race.
The SMBLF was reacting to the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as PDP presidential candidate in next year’s election.
Abubakar defeated 12 other aspirants including the trio of River State Governor, Nyesom Wike, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to secure the party’s presidential ticket at Saturday’s national convention held in Abuja.
In a communique jointly signed by Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw (PANDEF), Amb. Okey Emuchay (Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide), Jare Ajayi (Afenifere), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt Forum), and Ken Robinson, Acting Coordinator, SMBLF, the forum described the Abubakar as PDP presidential candidate as a brazen affront on the people of Southern Nigeria by the opposition party.
The communique read: “Following the release of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) guidelines for the 2023 general elections, the Elders and Leaders of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt, under the auspices of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, made unequivocal proclamations on the need for the presidency to be devolved to Southern Nigeria in 2023, in accordance with the time-honoured practice of rotating and zoning high political offices.
“Several dialogues with diverse stakeholders were held across the country to build understanding, mutual respect, and oneness on the subject. The 17 Southern Governors also approved the rotation of the President to the South in 2023 in a declaration issued following their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, in May 2021, the communique clarified.
“Sadly, it appears the unity and peace of Nigeria means little or nothing to a segment of the nation’s political elite. This was evidenced in the PDP special convention, which was held on Saturday, 28th May 2022, where certain candidates from the North were pressured, coerced, and even intimidated to step down for former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who eventually emerged as the flag bearer of PDP, in utter derision of the established principle of zoning and rotation of power between the north and south,” the group railed.
“SMBLF, therefore, totally REJECTS the candidacy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and calls on our people of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt as well as all true lovers of peace and unity NOT TO VOTE for him or any other Northerner in the 2023 presidential election, in the interest of posterity.”
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