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Southern, middle belt leaders: We’ll recommend presidential candidate to Nigerians soon

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has announced that it will soon recommend a presidential candidate to Nigerians.

This was contained in a communique issued on Monday by the group after its meeting held over the weekend in Abuja.

The meeting had in attendance various stakeholders from the zones, including national assembly members.

The SMBLF said the “appropriate” person will be recommended to the people after the leaders engage the various presidential candidates.

While commending political parties including the All Progressives Congress (APC), African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Labour Party (LP), for fielding candidates from the south, the forum criticised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Alliance (AA), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Young Progressives Party (YPP), among others, for nominating presidential candidates from the north.

“SMBLF firmly reiterates its stance on the principle of zoning and power rotation between the North and the South, as the fulcrum on which the Nigerian Federation has, since independence, been premised,” the communique reads.

According to the group, it will in “due course, engage with the appropriate Presidential candidates and afterwards decide on which of the candidates to recommend to the peoples of Southern Nigeria, the Middle Belt region and indeed, all Nigerians of goodwill, for consideration at the polls in 2023”.

On the state of the nation, the forum said the failure of the federal government to live up to its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties, is an invitation for residents to take up arms and defend themselves.

“That the state of insecurity in the country is worsening by the day, with devastating impacts on the welfare and livelihood of ordinary Nigerians, thus, calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to stem the tide and assuage the suffering of Nigerians,” the document reads.

“Warns that the ambiguity of the Federal Government and the failure of the security agencies to decisively deal with these situations, buttress concerns that officials of the Federal Government and security agents are complicit in the security anomalies in the country;

“Warns that the continuous abdication of the Government’s primary and abiding constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens, is an irresistible signal to Nigerians to exercise their inalienable rights of self-defence, by all means, in deviance of extant laws, which have not deterred terrorists the use of weapons even superior to those of the security agencies.”

The forum added that the security situation in the country calls for the implementation of state police, and that the national assembly and the federal government should immediately begin the “requisite legislative instrument in this regard rather than indulging in meaningless lamentations”.

Signatories to the communique are Edwin Clark, SMBLF/PANDEF leader; Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere; Pogu Bitrus, president-general, Middle Belt Forum, and Okey Emuchay, secretary-general, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide.

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