Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has taken exception to a recent statement credited to the Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Alhaji Ango Abdullahi that zoning is “dead and buried” and has cautioned NEF against destroying the unity of Nigeria.
SMBLF says it is rather unfortunate and absurd that Ango Abdullahi and his Northern Elders Forum would make such mindless twaddle.
The group in a press statement on Monday signed by Chief Dr. E. K. Clark, National Leader, PANDEF and Chairman, SMBLF, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Leader, Afenifere, Prof. George Obiozor – President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, National President, Middle Belt Forum, maintained that “the question that arises from that grievous statement is, are they now ready to dissolve the country?
“What has happened that zoning, which has been a sine qua non in the nation’s political progression has now become a “dead and buried” issue, in the irrational contemplations of Ango Abdullahi and his co-travellers?
The statement reads, “Could it be due to the perplexing incapacity, insipidity and disastrous performance of the Buhari administration or their narcissistic ambition to perpetuate Hausa/Fulani Hegemony?”
SMBLF cautioned political parties and political stakeholders not to tinker with the issue of zoning and rotation of political offices especially, the presidency; warning that doing so would further threaten the bear threads of the Nation’s unity.
“It has become necessary to underscore that Ango Abdullahi, with his established disposition of worrying inconsistency, tending to duplicity, is one of the people disturbing the polity and peace of Nigeria.
“A few days ago, this same Ango fumbled with the idea of a so-called consensus arrangement for Northern presidential aspirants, the backlash of which he has not come out, to now spring this reckless declaration that zoning is “dead and buried”.
“Ango and his Northern Elders do not have the right, much more the power, to kill and bury zoning! But, if it’s Nigeria entirely that they want to “kill and bury”, let them be left with no doubt that we are ready for them.
“The history of zoning between the North and the South is well-known to everybody in this country and has been respected by all the major political parties in Nigeria. In the Second Republic, the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, adhered to the policy of zoning. The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has also, since its formation in 1999, adhered to the zoning of principal elective offices.
“Most recently, in 2018, the PDP firmly observed the zoning arrangement by having only northern aspirants participate in the party’s presidential primary, which was held in Port Harcourt. Recall that twelve (12) aspirants, all Northerners, including Senator Jonah Jang, Senator David Mark, Kabiru Turaki, SAN, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, Dr Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Alhaji Atiku Abubakarand Datti Baba Ahmed vied for the party’s ticket for the 2019 presidential election,” the statement noted.
“Likewise, for the APC, only Northerners contested the first presidential primaries of the party in 2014, in Lagos, including Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwankawso and late Sam Nda-Isaiah, except Owelle Rochas Okorocha who has become a routine presidential aspirant since 2003.
The group berated the APC national chairman, saying, “Sadly, we are now been told by the newly “imposed” National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, that the APC has not decided on the zoning of the presidency. Such a statement at this stage, with about 30 days to the presidential primaries, amounts to outright dishonesty and chicanery.
“Who are they trying to deceive and who will allow them? It becomes even more upsetting given the fact that the statement came from someone who himself emerged as National Chairman of the APC through the policy of rotation and zoning,” the statement further added.
According to SMBLF, the APC Constitution, under article 7, relating to its aims and objectives, commits the party to firstly, “promote and foster the unity, political stability and national consciousness of the people of Nigeria.”
“The question then is would the dumping of the zoning policy foster unity, political stability and national consciousness in Nigeria?
“The APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, ought to know better because he has been in the nation’s political space for quite some time, since the Second Republic and should have a broad understanding of the political interplays that have sustained Nigeria’s oneness to date.
“Thus, should not dance to the drumbeats of political pillagers but rather, as National Chairman of the ruling party; firmly uphold the patriotic and democratic considerations that have kept Nigeria together as a country,” SMBLF stated.
The group added, “We urge the 17 Southern governors, who unanimously declared that the Presidency must come to the South in May last year, at Asaba, Delta State, to remain resolute. They have the absolute support of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum; we stand firmly by them. This country belongs to all of us!
“Let everybody take this as a serious warning that the issue of zoning cannot be swept under the carpet; it cannot be dead and buried, if zoning is buried, Nigeria is then buried. And if they are thinking that this is a joke, let it be known that it is not.
“If we cannot abide by the established principle of rotation and zoning between the north and south, then we should not continue with “One Nigeria”, we should go back to what we were as a people, before the amalgamation of 1914.
“We earnestly call on the people of the Middle Belt region, all Southerners, and sundry Minorities all over Nigeria to wake up, and resolutely and conscientiously work together. It’s by so doing that bright prospects for all will become pellucid. This was demonstrated at the National Conference of 2014, to the mortification of those who think this country belongs to them, exclusively,” the statement further reads.
“It is haughty for anybody to say that this is the time to consider the quality of candidates. Where in Nigeria is deficient in quality candidates, is it the south or the north? Every one of the individuals from the south who has indicated interest to contest for the presidency, both in APC and in PDP, is qualified to be President of Nigeria.
“They should stop their trickery, enough is enough! We cannot have a northerner president for 8 years and then welcome another northern president for another 8 years or more. That is unacceptable to us.
“We, therefore, strongly caution all our governors, present and former, and top politicians not to accept the position of Vice Presidency from any northern presidential candidate.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.