The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has met in Abuja and once again demanded the return of power to the South in 2023, while also reaffirming its stance on restructuring.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, which ended late on Thursday, and attended by former governors, ministers, federal and state legislators, top politicians and professionals from the Southern and Middle Belt regions, the Forum also called on all political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the South.
It warned that any political party that fails to heed its demand should not expect support from the four regions in the 2023 general election i.e. South-west, South-east, South-south and North-central.
SMBLF also maintained that the extant Constitution and Structure of Nigeria “are grossly flawed and lopsided” and restated its demand for a fundamental restructuring of the country “by enacting a new Constitution that would enthrone equity, fairness and justice.”
The Forum agreed on the country’s indissolubility.
The communiqué, jointly signed by the leaders of the Forum, Chief Dr. E. K. Clark, Ayo Adebanjo, George Obiozor and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, reads: “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.
“That any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.
“Therefore, unequivocally, and in full resolve, call on all political parties in the country to zone their presidential tickets to the South.
“Notes that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country as Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of power.”
The Forum also condemned “the 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.
SMBLF cautioned 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 crises in the country.”
It urged governors and members of the National Assembly from the four regions to commit themselves to the subject of restructuring and reaffirmed its commitment to the unity of Nigeria, “situated on the tenets of equity, fairness, justice, and the principle of federalism.”
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of its leader and elder statesman, Chief Dr. E. K. Clark.
Also 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 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, 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, including Obong Victor Attah, former governor of Akwa Ibom; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Alaowei Broderick Bozimo; Senator Femi Okurounmu; Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu; Simon N. Okeke; Chief Supo Shonibare; Akin Fapohunda; Amb. Okey Emuchay; Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw; Prof. G. G. Darah; Solomon Asemota; Dr. Alex Ogbonna; Mr. Mac Emakpore; Chief Douyi Douglas-Naingba; Mrs. Nella Andem-Rabana; Prof. Mrs. Chinwe Obaji; Maj. Gen. Henry Ayoola (Rtd); Engr. Ben Akaakar; Dr. Ebun Sonaiya; Comrade Jare Ajayi and Ken Robinson, among others.
Deji Elumoye Chuks Okocha and Udora Orizu in Abuja