Southern leaders divided over grilling Tinubu, Atiku, Peter Obi, others

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On the heels of the interactive session between Arewa Joint Committee, AJC, and presidential candidates, major southern regional groups and leaders are divided over toeing the same path, insisting the next President must come from the South.


The groups, comprising Afenifere, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Pan-Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Oduduwa United People Association, ODUPA, among others, cautioned against abandoning rotational presidency in 2023.


In various chats with Sunday Vanguard, they were not keen about doing what the AJC did in Kaduna, but were more concerned about the electoral process and where the next President should come from.


However, PANDEF said plans are ongoing to have an interface with candidates from the South in line with the clamour for southern presidency.


Some northern political leaders under the auspices of AJC had organised an interactive session for all presidential candidates.


Held in Kaduna, last week, presidential hopefuls who participated include Kola Abiola of Peoples Redemption Party,PRP, Peter Obi, Labour Party, LP, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu , All Progressives Congress ,APC, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party ,PDP, and Prince Adewole Adebayo, Social Democratic Party ,SDP.


The hopefuls addressed the forum on their plans for northern Nigeria if elected.


But southern groups were decided on the likelihood of having such in the entire South.


Next President must come from S/East — Afenifere


General Secretary of Afenifere, Chief Olusola Ebiseni, said: “For over a year, in Afenifere and among other groups, particularly the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, we have, through rigorous debates, given the Nigerian situation a critical analysis and finally taken a position on what we objectively considered best to secure Nigeria. Our corporate existence and prosperity can only be peacefully guaranteed where and when no part is oppressed.

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“To that extent, we reiterate unequivocally that the next President of Nigeria should be from the South after Muhammadu Buhari. And for equity, the South-East, which is the only region that has not produced the President, should produce the President. And we found Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party is competent and suitable.


“Organising a “speech day” programme for candidates like a students’ union election is not our modus operandi. It will be hypocritical to do so.’”


Another Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu, said the group has no plan to organize any symposium for all the presidential candidates in the forthcoming general elections.


He said:”Some of the presidential candidates in the 2023 general elections had visited the organization. They briefed members of the organization about their vision and mission for the country if elected. A symposium would amount to a repetition.”


One region feeling more superior—ODUPA


On his part, Founder, ODUPA worldwide, Chief Jimoh Taofeek, said his group is not interested in organizing any political debate for the presidential candidates.


He said:” We don’t intend to organize a symposium for any candidate as the Arewa did a few weeks ago.


“This is the position and decision of the organisation because we strongly believe there is no way any of the presidential candidates or even anybody can perform magic as long as the 1999 constitution is still in use.


“Let us not be fooled again. The foundation of the problems confronting this country called Nigeria is all about the so-called 1999 constitution.

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“I am not seeing any meaningful progress in the country unless the constitution is abolished.


“I have said it repeatedly and I’m still saying it that there cannot be any meaningful development in all ramifications. There may be more crises than expected.


“There is no clear picture that any candidate will be declared winner as the President in 2023. A particular region with fewer resources is claiming to be superior to the region that is blessed with human and natural resources.


“The best solution is for each region to go their separate ways without embarking on violence.


“ Nigeria is never one united entity in reality. I wonder why a few among the ruling class will continue deceiving us.


“The 1999 constitution is not people-oriented, but was written by a few selected Nigerians and promulgated by Decree 24 of 1999 without subjecting it to a referendum


“How can a constitution that centralises security, judiciary and resource control with no autonomy for local governments among others succeed? I can’t understand how a constitution that takes care of a certain religion but neglects others thrives.”



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