The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has called on all politicians and professionals from the South not to accept, on any account, the position of Vice President, as according to the group such would amount to a shameful committal of present and future generations of Southern Nigeria to senseless political vassalage.
SMBLF also called on all delegates of all political parties, and true lovers of democracy to, as a sacred obligation, reject presidential aspirants, or candidates, from the North, and only vote for those from the South in their party primaries.
Rising from a meeting of the forum held on Thursday, 19th May 2022, in Abuja under the Chairmanship of the Leader and Elder Statesman, Chief Dr Edwin Clark, the forum condemns, in strongest terms, what it describes as obvious schemes by the two main political parties, the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) and APC (All Progressives Congress), ahead of their Presidential primaries, to jettison the time-honoured principle of rotation, which, it says, has traditionally served as the glue holding the Federal Republic of Nigeria together.
While warning that the reported permutations by the main political parties to foist Northern presidential candidates on the nation would be a grave misadventure, with grim consequences on national concord and harmony, SMBLF insists that, in observance of the principles of justice, equity, fairness and political inclusiveness, the South, and particularly, the South-East Zone, being the third leg on which Nigeria’s political trajectory had revolved, should produce the next President of the country in 2023. This, the forum emphasised, would bring the Igbo quest for full reintegration and reconciliation, since the end of the Civil War in 1970, to full realisation.
SMBLF also seized the opportunity to commend some Northern governors who, if said, have demonstrated great patriotism by their public support for the rotation of the presidency to the South. It named some of the governors include Malam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State, and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR of Kano State. While equally urging other well-meaning Northern leaders, who believe in the oneness of Nigeria, to support this cause, because therein lies the unity and progress of Nigeria.
On the worsening state of insecurity and rampaging violence across the country, the forum warns that Nigeria is plummeting into a state of total disorder and lawlessness, with attacks on innocent people resulting in kidnapping, loss of lives and destruction of properties happening in different parts of the country almost daily
“Sadly, the federal government and its security agencies are not doing enough to arrest the situation, whereby people can no longer travel safely either by road, rail or even by air to Kaduna State in particular.
“It is not only frightening but unimaginable that despite the heavy presence of military commands and installations in the state (Kaduna) there could be such security challenges”, it lamented.
Citing the bombing of the Kaduna-Abuja bound train over 60 days ago as well as the brazen attack on motorists on the Abuja-Kaduna Road about two days ago, SMBLF stressed that on both occasions, innocent lives were lost while several people were wounded with many abducted. “Undesirably, most of those who were kidnapped are still in the terrorists’ captivity after 60 days”, it pointed out.
SMBLF also decries the unabating killings and destruction of livelihoods in the Middle-Belt Region, especially in Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Southern Gombe, Benue, Taraba, etc, and the inaction of the federal government to live up to its constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens.
It classifies these killings and pervasive acts of aggression on the indigenous people, being perpetrated by elements of Islamic extremism and terrorists, as cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing. “The meeting cautions that these bellicosities and deliberate pogrom to exterminate the indigenous populations of the Middle-Belt are, by implication, acts of aggression against the rest of Nigeria, and would not be tolerated any further.”