Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Berates PDP, Five Others For Picking Northern Presidential Candidates

…Condemn Continuous Attacks On Churches,Church Leaders

Leaders of the Southern and Middle-Belt regions of the Nigeria have condemned the continuous targeted terrorist attack on Churches as well as the kidnapping of Church leaders across the country.

This is as the leaders, under the auspices of the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) berated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and five other political parties, for nominating presidential candidates from the North for the 2023 election, in total disregard of the time-honoured principle of rotation between the North and the South.

SMBLF, in a communique issued at the end of it’s extraordinary meeting in Abuja at the weekend, condemned the haphazard manner in which the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise was being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in parts of the country.

The communique was signed by Chief Edwin Clark, leader of SMBLF and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere leader; Dr. Dru Bitrus, President-General of Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and Professor George Obiozor, President-General of Ohaneze-Ndigbo Worldwide.

It reads in part: “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;

“Forum denounces the spate of targeted terrorist attacks on Churches and abduction of Church leaders, in the country;

“In this connection, condemns, in strongest terms, the daring attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State on June 5 by gunmen, killing no fewer than 40 people and injuring many other worshippers; describes as worrisome the hasty and doubtful conclusion by the Federal Government that the dastardly act was carried out by the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP;

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“Further condemns the incessant killings of the indigenous peoples and decimation of Communities in the Middle Belt Region, in particular, the current escalated war on Southern Kaduna, targeting Communities and Churches in Kajuru Local Government Area of the State, with reports of helicopters dropping weapons and supplies to the terrorists in their locations;

“SMBLF equally decried the continued confinement of victims of the Kaduna Train attack in the terrorists’ labyrinth after 89 days as well as several other Nigerians who have been held by terrorists and criminals for months; calls on the Federal Government and security agencies to secure the safe release of all victims.”

The regional leaders lauded the All Progressives Congress (APC), African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), People’s Redemption Party(PRP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), and others; for picking their presidential candidates from the Southern part of the country.

The communique reads: “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;

“Accordingly, commends the political parties, which in line with the need for national cohesion, equity, fairness and justice, have nominated their presidential candidates from the South, particularly, the All Progressives Congress (APC), African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), People’s Redemption Party(PRP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), and others;

“Further deplores the insensitivity of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties, including Action Alliance (AA), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Allied People’s Movement (APM), New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and Young Progressive Party (YPP), in nominating Presidential candidates from the North for the 2023 election, in total disregard of the time-honoured principle of rotation;

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“Commits to, 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.”

The SMBLF called on INEC to nip in the bud anything that will obstruct the smooth conduct of the 2023 general elections in the country.

It said: “Forum notes the current upsurge in youth voter registration and implores all young Nigerians who have attained the age of voting to go out in their numbers to exercise their constitutional right;

“However, condemns the haphazard manner in which the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise is being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in parts of the country; calls for proper management of the process and even distribution of the Voter Enrolment Devices across the country, to ensure that all eligible Nigerians, in all locations, are registered to vote;

“Cautions the INEC, given certain disturbing reports, to abjure unwholesome practices that would distort the credibility of the 2023 general elections, particularly, in its application of technology through the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and transmission of election results.”

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