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South, Middle Belt leaders in fix over 2023 presidency

The South and Middle Belt leaders appear to be in a fix over the choice of a presidential candidate to support in the 2023 general…

The South and Middle Belt leaders appear to be in a fix over the choice of a presidential candidate to support in the 2023 general elections, findings by Daily Trust have shown.

Multiple sources from the fold of regional leaders point towards one direction, which is indecision, but some of them are awaiting the selection of running mates of the presidential candidates to take a stance.

Major regional blocs in this situation are the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, the Middle Belt Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum.

The groups which make up the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) had insisted on the zoning of the presidency to the South.

Checks by our correspondent indicated that the Southern and Middle Belt leaders are divided on who to support among the presidential candidates.

Though Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) is being popped up as the Third Force candidate, the APC and the PDP still hold the ace in the contest going by their structures and national spread.

But with the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate, the division in the forum has deepened and there are mixed feelings among the leaders, especially in the camp of Afenifere, over his emergence.

It would be recalled that Afenifere has always advocated zoning the presidency to the South, but the acting leader of the forum, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has further made a case for the position to be zoned to the South East.

The Middle Belt Forum had also backed the South East to produce the next President of Nigeria.

But the outcomes of primaries of major political parties have complicated the calculations, even as a former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, though a Northern candidate, has intensified his lobby on the need for the South to support his candidature.

The camp of Afenifere is, however, said to be divided on Tinubu, with some of them expressing delight over his emergence while others are said to be indifferent.

A source in Afenifere said the group would take a position on who to support in due course as it was too early to make any pronouncement on it.

“More so, we have not met on who to support, and until a meeting is held, you cannot have any official position,” the source said.

The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi, had in a reaction to the emergence of Tinubu, said the choice of a Southerner as presidential candidate by one of the leading political parties in the country “is delightful”.

Also speaking with our correspondent, the President of MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu, stated that the forum was waiting for the candidates to pick their vice before taking a position.

“Just hold on and see. We know where we are going,” he said.

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