2023: Afenifere, Ohanaeze reject northern candidates

There may be looming trouble for prominent politicians from the northern part of Nigeria who have shown interest to run for president in 2023 as the Southern and Middle Belt Forum have demanded that all political parties zone their presidential ticket to the South.

The politicians include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who had contested for presidency on three occasions, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal and an ex-governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso. While neither of them had yet to officially declare their presidential bid, there are strong indications they are eyeing the exalted position.

Kwankwaso, while featuring on Sunday Politics, a current affairs programme on Channels Television on Sunday, dismissed the power rotation between the North and the South.

But the Southern and Middle Belt Forum, which comprises Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; the South-East socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and the Middle Belt Forum, urged all parties to zone their presidential ticket to the South ahead of the 2023 presidential election, adding that the South and the Middle Belt would not vote for a northern presidential candidate in 2023.

The demand is contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting of the leadership of the groups in Abuja on Thursday.

The communiqué was signed by elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (leader of Afenifere), Prof. George Obiozor (President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo) and Dr Pogu Bitrus (National President, Middle Belt Forum).

Also at the event were the National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, Senator Emmanuel Essien, as well as former governors and ministers.

The leaders resolved that the extant constitution and structure of Nigeria are grossly flawed and lopsided. They therefore demanded the fundamental restructuring of the country by enacting a new constitution that would enthrone equity, fairness and justice.

The communiqué further read, “The northern part of the country would have fully enjoyed the office of the Presidency of the country for the full statutory period of eight years by 2023, hence, the Presidency should rotate to the South.

“Therefore, we unequivocally, and in full resolve, call on all political parties in the country to zone their presidential tickets to the South and advise that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.”

The group noted that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of power.

The leaders condemned the continued senseless killings of innocent citizens across the country by terrorists and criminals, especially in the North-West and called on the government and security agencies to redouble efforts to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians.

They cautioned the National Assembly to only give consideration to bills that would promote equity, justice, peace and national cohesion instead of issues that would exacerbate crises in the country.

Others who attended the meeting include former Governor Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom;  former Governor of Akwa Ibom; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, a former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Bozimo; Senator Femi Okurounmu, Senator Bassey Henshaw, Solomon Asemota (SAN), Mrs. Nella Andem-Rabana (SAN), Major General Henry Ayoola (retd.), Amb. Okey Emuchay and others.

Meanwhile, a group, Disciples of Jagaban, has asked Nigerians to reject the alleged elite gang-up to truncate the ambition of the former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, of becoming president in 2023.

The group, rooting for Tinubu’s Presidency noted that since the former governor informed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), the elite had started scheming so Tinubu would not emerge the next president.

Against this backdrop, the National Coordinator of the DOJ, Abdulhakeem Alawuje, in a statement on Friday, urged the masses to rise up against those who attempt to stop Tinubu.

The statement is titled, ‘Tinubu’s detractors, enemies of Nigeria’, read in part, “Detractors of Tinubu are not just Jagaban’s opponents, they are the collective enemies of the people, and if Nigerians fail to stop them now, we may not be able to stop them for a very long time.

“We all know how these people appropriated the resources of Lagos State before the emergence of Tinubu on the scene in 1999. Except the respite brought by former governor Lateef Jakande, Lagosians had long been denied the dividends of democracy and fruits of good governance, despite the fact that Lagos was the capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But since Tinubu took over the leadership of Lagos State, it has become a prosperous and a pacesetter state to date, under his guardianship and mentorship.”

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