Presidency: Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Commend Buhari, Northern APC Govs

<strong>Presidency: Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Commend Buhari, Northern APC Govs</strong>

Ahead of the presidential primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari and APC northern governors for their support in zoning the presidency to the south.

SMBLF noted that the decision of the northern governors is highly commendable, calling on southern APC presidential aspirants to close ranks, as suggested by President Buhari, and present a credible consensus candidate that would protect the interest of all Nigerians.

It would be recalled that SMBLF under the leadership of former Federal Commissioner for Information and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has been in the forefront of the campaign for the presidency to be zoned to the south, calling on the two major political parties – the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the APC – to ensure that their presidential candidates are picked from the south.

However, the PDP left the contest open and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, from the North-East, clinched its presidential ticket.

Meanwhile, the Middle Belt and southern leaders of Afenifere, Ohaneaze and Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANEF, urged the APC, and PDP in particular, not to violate its own constitution, reiterating their position on the principle of zoning and power rotation between the north and south, as the basis on which the federation has, since independence, been premised.

Governors of northern extraction in the APC had last Saturday called on President Buhari to support a presidential aspirant from the south, with a joint statement signed by at least 10 of the governors to that effect.

Those who signed the statement include Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina, Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Professor Umara Zulum (Borno), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe).

Others are Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and a former governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, leaders of SMBLF stressed that the decision of the APC northern leaders to back the emergence of a presidential candidate from the southern part of the country is a remarkable development that would fetch a huge relief to well-meaning Nigerians, especially from the needless political theatrics, adding that they totally endorse their conclusion.

The statement signed by Chief Clark as the chairman of the groups and leader of PANDEF; Chief Ayo Adebanjo for Afenifere; Professor George Obiozor for Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide and Dr Pogu Bitrus for Middle Belt Forum reads in part: “The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as northern governors and political leaders of the All Progressives Congress. The decision of the APC northern leaders to back the emergence of a presidential candidate of the party from the southern part of the country is a remarkable development and fetches huge relief to well-meaning Nigerians from the needless political theatrics.

“We totally endorse the conclusions of the APC governors and political leaders from the northern states, after their meeting yesterday; that after eight years of northern presidency, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should come from the south in the interest of building a stronger, more united and progressive country. This is in tandem with our long-held position on the rotation of the presidency and deserves commendation.

“Just when the nation’s future and political fortunes were looking dimmest, with all sorts of appalling shenanigans, the president and the northern APC governors have provided a glimmer of hope, indicating that some of our politicians still cherish the “oneness” of Nigeria beyond parochial and political reparations. And, despite certain reservations, this decision has occasioned a level of optimism that perhaps all hope is not yet lost for the country.

“And by this development, the All Progressives Congress has not only ingratiated itself with the people of Southern Nigeria, Middle Belt region, and indeed, all true lovers of democracy, equity, fairness and justice, but has also demonstrated that it is a truly “national” political party that is committed to the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria.

“We commend the courage and patriotism of Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State for heeding the “patriotic advice” of his colleagues and withdrawing his presidential aspiration. And further urge other northern presidential aspirants under the APC and other parties, to withdraw likewise, in the national interest.

“We also appeal to southern APC presidential aspirants to close ranks, as suggested by Mr President, and present a credible consensus candidate that will represent and protect the interest of all Nigerians’’.


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