The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has asked the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone their 2023 presidential tickets to the South.
The forum also urged the federal government to heed the “genuine and reasonable” nationwide calls for a transparent national dialogue and take urgent steps towards restructuring and birthing a new constitution to bring back “equitable harmony” to the country.
The resolutions were contained in a communique signed by National Leader of the Forum and former minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor; National President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr Pogu Bitrus; and National Chairman, PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ebok Essien, among others.
According to the communique, the leaders demanded restructuring of the country before 2023, and asked the federal government to declare a national emergency on security.
The communique reads: “We insist that it is imperative to immediately restructure the country considering the precarious prevailing atmosphere before any further elections.
“Reminds all leading political parties, especially the APC, PDP and other political parties, that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, rests in fair and even sharing of power
“That the Northern part of the country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency, for the full statutory period of right years by 2023, hence, should yield to the South.
“Enjoins political stakeholders from the South not to be lured into the unpatriotic step of seeking such other positions as national chairmen and vice president of the main political parties, but join forces to demand and ensure that the presidency moves to the South in 2023.
“Emphasises that, if the security situation is not dealt with and banditry stopped or reduced to the barest minimum, it would not be feasible to have proper elections in 2023.
“Insists that cattle rearing is a generally, private business enterprise, as such, the federal government should avoid committing state resources to promote any particular business, beyond providing the enabling environment, in the performance of its regulatory roles.”
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the unity of Nigeria, adding that it can only be sustained on the principles of equity, fairness and justice.
But, the Ambassador Aminu Wali-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano State has said the North-East should produce the next president.
Chairman of the faction, Mamina Bako Lamido, who spoke on behalf of other executive members said Bala Mohammed was fit for the job.
The PDP faction gave its backing when it received executive members of a group canvassing support for the governor, known as Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed Vanguard (BAM-V), at the party’s secretariat in Kano at the weekend.
Lamido said for fairness and equity, the party should zone its presidential ticket to both North-East and South-East, adding that if the ticket goes to the North-East, Bala Mohammed should be given the mandate.
Speaking earlier, BAM-V Director-General, Mohammed Abubakar Jibo, said the group was at the party’s secretariat to canvass support for Mohammed ahead 2023.