By Ralph Madugu
Southern and Middle Belt leaders have reiterated their stance on the principle of zoning and rotation of the presidency of Nigeria between the North and the South, insisting that it is the basis on which the Nigerian Federation had been premised since Independence.
The leaders insisted that the South-East zone being the third leg of Nigeria’s political trajectory, should produce the next president of the country in 2023 in line with the principles of justice, equity, fairness and political inclusiveness adding that this would it would bring the Igbo quest for full reintegration and reconciliation, since the end of the Civil War in 1970, to full realization.
The leaders made their stance known in communique issued at the end of a meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum recently in Abuja.
The meeting deliberated on the state of the nation, particularly the worsening insecurity, the 2023 General Elections and recent developments in the nation’s polity, stated that the zoning and rotation of the presidency of Nigeria were fundamental to the future existence of the country.
The meeting, chaired by Chief Edwin Clark, also had in attendance a delegation of the constituent Organisations of the SMBLF as well as former Governors, ministers, Federal and State Lawmakers, top politicians and professionals from the Southern and Middle Belt regions.
The SMBLF leaders warned against reported permutations by the main political parties to impose Northern Presidential candidates on the nation saying that would amount to a “grave misadventure, with grim consequences on national concord and harmony.”
While calling 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 the Party Primaries, the SMBLF called on all politicians and professionals from the South not to accept, on any account, the position of Vice President, as according to them, that would amount to “a shameful committal of present and future generations of Southern Nigeria to senseless political vassalage.”
They condemned what they termed “obvious schemes” by the two main political parties, the PDP and APC, ahead of their Presidential Primaries, to jettison the “time-honored principle of Rotation,” which they noted had traditionally served as the glue holding the Federal Republic of Nigeria together.
Commending some northern governors who have demonstrated patriotism by their public support for the rotation of the presidency to the South, the SMBLF leaders urged other well-meaning northern leaders who believe in the oneness of Nigeria to support this cause adding that therein lies the unity and progress of Nigeria.
On the worsening level of insecurity and rampaging violence across the country, the SMBLF warned 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 in different parts of the country on daily basis.”
Citing the bombing of the Kaduna-Abuja bound train and the recent brazen attack on motorists on the Abuja-Kaduna Road that led to loss of innocent lives while several people were wounded with many abducted, the leaders described the situation as not only frightening but unimaginable that despite the heavy presence of military commands and installations in the State there could be such security challenges.
“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.”
They condemned the recent killing of Miss Deborah Samuel Yakubu and the wild spread of violence that engulfed Sokoto State following the arrest of the two of her killers and denounced the “worrisome disregard for the inviolability of human life by terrorists, criminals and religious extremists in the country.”
While condemning the recent burning to death of a young man, a Sound Engineer, by commercial motorcyclists in Lagos, and the spree of killings and wanton destruction of properties and businesses owned by Southerners, particularly the occurrence, few days, at Dei Dei Market in Abuja, the also decried the unabating killings and destruction of livelihoods in the Middle Belt Region, especially in Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Southern Gombe, Benue, Taraba, and the inaction of the Federal Government to live up to its Constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens.
They cautioned against what they tagged “bellicosities and deliberate programs” to exterminate the indigenous populations of the Middle Belt which they perceived by implication, acts of aggression against the rest of Nigeria, and would not be tolerated any further.
“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 programs 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.
“Deplores the inhuman plight of the 1,700 indigenous people of Southern Kaduna driven out of their homes and have now become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) for over five years as well as several other Internally Displaced Persons in different parts of the country, left to live in conditions that impinge on their human rights as citizens of this Country. Hence, calls on the Federal Government to, without delay, facilitate the return and reintegration of these Nigerians into their Communities.
The SMBLF resolved to resist, through all legitimate means, the barefaced attempts by religious fundamentalists to impose on the rest of us, a Nigeria of “one country, different laws”. “The Meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the people of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt to the RESTRUCTURING of the Country, in tandem with the Principles of True Federalism, as was established by the Founding Fathers of Nigeria.”