An expanded Meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), held on Sunday, 30th May 2021, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, ABUJA. The Meeting, chaired by Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON, had, in attendance leaders of various socio-cultural organizations as follows: 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.
2. The Meeting also had in attendance, former Governors, Ministers and Members of the National Assembly, from the respective Zones (list attached).
3. The Meeting exhaustively discussed various issues about the State of Affairs in the country, particularly, bordering on the Security, National Dialogue, Restructuring, and the preparations for the 2023 General Elections.
4. Arising therefrom, the Meeting resolved as follows:
i. Urges the Federal Government to heed the genuine and reasonable nationwide calls for a transparent National Dialogue, and take urgent steps towards restructuring and birthing a new Constitution; to bring back equitable harmony to the Country;
ii. Insists that it is imperative to immediately restructure the country considering the precarious prevailing atmosphere before any further elections.
iii. Reminds all leading political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties, that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, rests in fair and even sharing of power;
iv. Notes that the Northern part of the Country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency, for the full statutory period of 8 years by 2023, hence, should yield to the South;
5. Therefore, the Meeting:
i. Unequivocally and in full resolve, calls on the APC and PDP and other political parties to zone the Presidency, in 2023 to the South; at the next election.
ii. Enjoins political stakeholders from the South not to be lured into the unpatriotic step of seeking such other positions as National Chairmen and Vice President of the main political parties, but join forces to demand and ensure that the Presidency moves to the South in 2023;
iii. Calls on the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on security and urgently come up with proactive strategies to restore peace and security to all parts of the country;
iv. Emphasizes that, if the security situation is not dealt with and banditry stopped or reduced to the barest minimum, it would not be feasible to have proper elections in 2023;
v. Condemns the cavalier attitude of the federal government towards the resolutions of the Governors of Southern States at their Meeting, held in Asaba, Delta State on 11th May 2021;as it pertains to ban on open grazing and restructuring.
vi. Insists that cattle rearing is a generally, private business enterprise, as such, the Federal Government should avoid committing state resources to promote any particular business, beyond providing the enabling environment, in the performance of its regulatory roles;
vii. Extends condolences to the families of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 other military personnel, who died in the unfortunate military plane crash on 21st May 2021, and calls on the military authorities to carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain the actual cause of the crash;
viii. Reaffirms its commitment to the unity of Nigeria, but must only be sustained on the principles of Equity, Fairness and Justice.
6. The Meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace and collective commitment to the decisions.
7. Done in ABUJA, this 30th Day of May 2021.
Chief E. K. Clark, OFR, CON – Leader
Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere
Amb. Prof George Obiozor – President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide
Dr. Pogu Bitrus – National President, Middle Belt Forum
Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE, National Chairman PANDEF