The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum has called on political parties in Nigeria to give their presidential tickets to politicians from the South to produce the next President that will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

The leaders under the aegis of SMBLF said any political party which fails to do so will not have the support of the people of the Southern and Middle Belt of the country.

According to SMBLF, the structure and constitution of Nigeria is grossly deficient, which calls for restructuring and birth of a new constitution.

These were contained in a communique issued by the SMBLF after a meeting on Thursday in Abuja, under the Chairmanship of the Leader and Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clark.

In attendance at the meeting were delegations from the four regional socio-cultural organisations, Afenifere for the South West, Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the South East, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) for the South-South and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) for the Middle Belt.

The delegations were led by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere, Prof George Obiozor, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President of the Middle Belt Forum and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE, National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF.

Part of the communique reads, "The meeting extensively discussed various issues on the State of Affairs in the country, particularly, the security situation, Restructuring, preparations for the 2023 General Elections and Zoning.

"Arising therefrom, the meeting resolved as follows: That the extant Constitution and Structure of Nigeria are grossly flawed and lopsided, accordingly, Forum restates its demand for the fundamental restructuring of the country by enacting a new Constitution that would enthrone equity, fairness and justice. It must be One Nation, One System;

"Cites that the northern part of the country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency of the country for the full statutory period of 8 years by 2023, hence, the presidency should rotate to the South;

"Therefore, unequivocally and in full resolve, call on all political parties in the country to zone their presidential tickets to the south. Advices that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions;

"Notes that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of power;

"Condemns the continued senseless killings of innocent citizens across the country by terrorists and criminals, especially in the North West Zone; calls on the government and security agencies to redouble efforts to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians;

"Cautions the National Assembly to ONLY give consideration to Bills that would promote equity, justice, peace and national cohesion instead of issues that will exacerbate conflicts and crisis in the country.

"Urges Governors and members of the National Assembly of the four regions to commit themselves to the subject of Restructuring; Reaffirms commitment to the unity of Nigeria, situated on the tenets of Equity, Fairness, Justice, and the principle of federalism."

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