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Again, Southern, Middle Belt leaders endorse Obi for President

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.Clark urges Okowa to step down as Atiku’s running mate
.Delta Gov. performance justified his nomination –Spokesman

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Elder statesmen and prominent leaders from four of the country’s six geopolitical zones have endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, as their candidate in the upcoming presidential election on February 25.

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, (SMBLF) is made up of  leaders from the Middle- Belt, Ndi- Igbo (Ohanaeze, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF) and headed by Edwin Clark of the South-South.

The decision was taken at the end of the extraordinary meeting of the forum on Wednesday in Abuja.

The Communique was read by the immediate past President General of the umbrella body of Ndigbo Worldwide, the Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo.

 

The Forum while urging Nigerians to join them in realizing the dream of making Obi the next President, vowed to resist attempt to derail the process and in defense of the ballot box.

 

 

The SIMBLF leaders promise to work assiduously in their various constituencies to promote the objectives and ensure that it is realized for the betterment of Nigeria.

 

The leaders said all members of the various groups support the aspiration of Obi-Datti Presidency under the Labour Party.

 

 

The Communique read: “That we give our unalloyed vote of thanks to our father and leader chief Edwin Clark for his boldness, his sagacity, his tenacity and his relentlessness in pursuing the aims and aspirations of this organization.

 

“That we warn all those who wants to change the hands of the clock of Nigeria by doing anything that will derail a peaceful transition to the next Civilian government of this country, that we shall rise like one-man in defense of the ballot box and that Nigerians must go to vote.

“This we have resolved today and we enjoin other Nigerians who do not belong to our organization to join us in realizing this for the betterment of Nigeria.

“Peter Obi is your Son and he is the rock upon which Nigeria will stand.”

Pa Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere) said, “The battle is on. We are in a war and our opponents are not sleeping at all. They’ve underrated us in the past but they are now seeing the stuff we are made of now.

 

“They are making all sorts of devices to ensure that power remains in a particular part of the country. That’s why they are not even supporting the candidate of their own party.

 

“You are fighting for your freedom. Don’t joke with your freedom. Don’t be deceived. They are not going to organise any election. We are fighting to get out of slavery and bondage.

 

 

“We all living in denials. Even among the Igbo. The impunity is too much and you don’t want those who are dissatisfied to leave the country.

 

“Obi’s phenomenon is not just about Labour Party. LP is now like NADECO. Obi is leading the crusade to get us out of bondage of serious oppression.

 

“They don’t want to leave office. I’m saying it openly here. It is not a joke that they want to scuttle the election. You must be prepared for post election.

 

“We will give it what it takes. It is either bend or break. If Obi does not win, forget a country called Nigeria.

“If we lose this election, there will be no opportunity for a non Christian, a non Northerner to be president again.

 

“Right now they are planning to vote for Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party by jettisoning their candidate in the Labour Party.

 

 

“They want another northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. How they want to do it, I don’t know but we must all be prepared for a war.

 

“Have it at the back of your mind that Obi must be declared president. Anything contrary to this, we should forget about Nigeria.”

 

Dele Farotimi, an activist said: “We know when it’s our turn, and we do not require anybody to tell us when it’s our turn.

 

When a man presumes to arrogate to himself what belongs to all members, it is not emi lokan, it is awa lokan, it is the turn of all of us, whether you are part of PANDEF, a Yoruba man, a Hausa man, a Fulani or a kanuri for that matter, it is either Nigeria belongs to all of us or it doesn’t belong anybody. This time around, it is a thing of joy and great pride, we have been coordinating to support a man that we can actually stand behind, follow and say yes, this is our own and not one of those thieves masquerading as saints.”

 

Also present was Dr. Bittus Pogu, (President of the Middle Belt Forum) among other elders.

 

 

meanwhile,Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has urged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to step down as the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 general election.

Clark stated this at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that Okowa’s running as the PDP Vice-Presidential Candidate, was contrary to the resolution of the South-South Forum that the presidency must shift from the North to South in 2023.

“Okowa has betrayed his colleagues in the Southern Governors’ Forum and the South generally.

“This man has betrayed us for accepting to be the running mate of Atiku. Without me, it would have been difficult for him to become governor of Delta.

“What shocked me was that our governor without discussing with any one of us was working with a presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar without our knowing.

“This man has betrayed us. We all agreed, we held serious meetings that this man had betrayed us. We can no longer trust him,” Clark, also a former Federal Commissioner for information and South South leader, said.

However, Delta State Government in its reaction insisted that the governor won’t step down.

Mr. Charles Aniagwu
Delta State Commissioner for Information in a statement Thursday noted: “We have read with keen interest the open letter to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark.

“First we accord him his due respect as an elder statesman and a respected father in our state, but we state categorically that his letter is not a true reflection of the state of affairs in Delta State as the massive achievements in infrastructural and human capital development recorded in the state in the last seven years are visible to all and sundry.

“On the allegation of unaccountability and dictatorship, it is on record that Governor Okowa has been very accountable to the people as he has always briefed Deltans on the state of affairs in the state. He holds quarterly media interaction with journalists in the state where issues across the state are discussed and questions asked and relevant answers provided.

“The Governor has had cause to relate with the State House of Assembly on all matters concerning the state finances at all times. How can a Governor that ensured full autonomy for the State’s legislature and the judiciary be said to be dictatorial?.

“On the allegation of misuse of N250billion 13% derivation fund, nothing can be far from the truth because the said fund is being paid in quarterly instalments and as at last record we have only received four instalments totalling N19.6billion.

“Because of the time value of money and inflationary tendencies we decided to discount N100billion.

“On application to the state House of Assembly, we listed some landmark projects to be completed from the fund and some of them including the Ogheye Floating Market, Koka Flyover and Interchange, Maryam Babangida Leisure Park, Film Village and Zoo, Mother and Child Specialist Hospital and Advanced Diagnostics Medical Centre have been completed, inaugurated and currently operational.

“We are also aware that our leader, Chief Clark has made his own political choice by endorsing a presidential candidate of another political party which we agree and respect as his own fundamental right, but we hold the view that it is not democratically nor constitutionally out of place for other persons to also have right to associate with others which is equally legitimate.

“We are all aware that the country is so divided and the rhetoric that tends to divide the country further along the line of North and South dichotomy cannot do the country any good hence we urge that persons of all class need not engage in divisive actions or uterances.

“As well meaning Nigerians we expect that senior citizens should promote actions that tends to unite the country and not that which would further divide us.

“The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar won  the party’s primary on the account of a free and transparent votes of delegates of the party across the country.

“The constitution of our country is very clear that once a Presidential Candidate emerges, he is duty bound to chose a running mate and by tradition from the other side of the country.

“It couldnt have been the right thing to say that we should have rejected the nomination because if we had, other persons would have also accepted it.

“We will continue to respect Chief Clark despite the recent attacks on Governor Okowa and we also put it on record that the highly respected elder statesman had supported us in the past up to 2019 and had cause to commend the Governor for his sterling accomplishments in the state.

“So we will not begrudge him because he has chosen to support someone else this time around”.

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