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We Reject Ex-Vice President, Atiku As PDP Candidate, Northerner Can’t Succeed Buhari After Eight Years – Southern, Middle Belt Leaders, PANDEF (Details below)



The Southern Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have rejected the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, saying it is an affront on the people of southern Nigeria.

The southern groups said it was unfair that Atiku, a Fulani muslim would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari who is same extraction and has spent eight years in office.

The PANDEF National Publicity Secretary, Ebenzer Adurokiya, during an interview on Trust TV on Monday, said based on the principle of zoning established in the country’s political system since 1979, the south should be allowed to clinch the ticket.

He said, “Our position remains the same. This is unfair and these are disturbing times for us in Nigeria. This is not on any personal thing or against Atiku Abubakar as a person. In 2018, PANDEF declared support for Atiku Abubakar and we campaigned for him together with Afenifere.

“But in principle we felt that after eight years under Muhammadu Buhari, it is fair that power should rotate to southern Nigeria based on the principle of zoning that has been established in our political system over the years since 1979. What the PDP has done is an affront on the people of southern Nigeria.”

In a statement, the leaders from Middle-Belt, Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, Afenifere blasted the PDP for not placing value on the unity and peace of Nigeria.

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The leaders urged politicians of southern extraction to decline to be a running mate to any northern presidential candidate, saying it would amount to subjugating their people to political slavery.

The statement reads, “The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has described the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party as a brazing affront to the people of Southern Nigeria by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“SMBLF recalls that following the release of the guidelines for the 2023 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), elders and leaders of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt, under the aegis of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, made unequivocal proclamations on the need for the presidency to be devolved to Southern Nigeria in 2023, in respect of the time honoured practice of the rotation and zoning of high political offices between the North and the South by political parties as a way of strengthening national unity, peace, and harmony.

“SMBLF further recalls that several engagements were held with various stakeholders across the length and breadth of the country on the subject to foster understanding, mutual respect, and oneness.

“The 17 Southern Governors also in a declaration after their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, in May 2021, backed the rotation of the presidency to the South in 2023.

“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, 28th May 2022, where certain candidates from the North were pressured, coerced, and even intimidated to step down for former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who eventually emerged as the flag bearer of POP in utter derision of the established principle of zoning and rotation of power between the north and south.

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“Undoubtedly, the singular motive is to perpetuate the hegemony of the North given that President Muhammadu 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 Alhaji Atiku Abubakar 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.”

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