From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Leaders of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) have rejected the emergence of former vice president Atiku Abubakar as the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election.
In a communique jointly signed by Bassey Ewa-Henshaw (PANDEF/South South), Okey Emuchay (Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide/South East), Jare Ajayi (Afenifere/South West), Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt Forum), leaders of groups that made up the forum, and Ken Robinson, acting coordinator of SMBLF, faulted the PDP for electing a northern presidential candidate.
They described the outcome of the exercise as “an affront” to the people of the South and asked politicians in the region to reject any nomination for the office of the vice president.
The SMBLF, however, urged presidential hopefuls in the South to shun the attitude of individualism and self-confidence, and work collectively to achieve the shared objective of producing President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in the forthcoming elections.
The communique read in part: “Sadly, it appears the unity and peace of Nigeria mean little or nothing to a segment of the nation’s political elite.
“This was evidenced in the PDP special convention, which was held on Saturday, May 28, 2022, where certain candidates from the North were pressured, coerced, and even intimidated to step down for former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, who eventually emerged as the flag bearer of PDP, in utter derision of the established principle of zoning and rotation of power between the North and South.
“Undoubtedly, the singular motive is to perpetuate the hegemony of the North given that President Buhari, a Muslim from the North and of Fulani origin will be completing his full tenure of eight years by this time next year.
“SMBLF, therefore, totally rejects the candidacy of Atiku of the PDP and calls on our people of southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt as well as all true lovers of peace and unity not to vote for him or any other northerner in the 2023 presidential election, in the interest of posterity.
“SMBLF further urges all aspirants for the office of president from southern Nigeria to shun the conceited attitude of individualism and self-confidence, and work collectively to achieve the shared objectives.
“Again, SMBLF calls on all politicians of southern extraction to refuse the position of a running mate to any northern presidential candidate, which will equally be viewed as subjugating their people to political slavery.”