By Chukwudi Nweje
Prominent socio-political and cultural organisations in the South-West and South-East, as well as the Middle Belt Forum have reiterated their preference for a president from Southern Nigeria in 2023.
Pan Igbo socio cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), told Saturday Sun, in separate telephone interviews on Friday that they will support only a Southern presidential candidates at the general election in 2023.
Although they did not go into specifics of who the preferred candidate is, spokesman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, his Afenifere counterpart, Jare Ajayi and President of MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus, all urged people of Southern Nigeria to make their choice from the list of presidential candidates from the South.
Presidential candidates from the South include former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party, a former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Umeadi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Mr Adewole Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), among others.
The various groups had, at a meeting held in January this year in Abuja, under the banner of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), called on all the political parties in the country to zone their presidential tickets to the south.
The meeting held under the chairmanship of elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, was attended by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, acting leader of Afenifere, Professor George Obiozor, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President of the MBF and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF).
A communiqué signed and issued by representatives of the groups at the meeting also warned that “any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.”
Part of the argument for insisting on a president from Southern Nigeria is 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 eight years by 2023, hence, the presidency should rotate to the South.”
The body had also noted that “the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of power.”
The group reaffirmed its commitment to the unity of Nigeria, situated on the tenets of equity, fairness, justice, and the principle of federalism.