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Number of Southern presidential aspirants maddening, says Clark

By Muyiwa Adeyemi and Chris Irekamba
07 May 2022   |   3:41 am
The leader of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), Chief Edwin Clark, has cautioned politicians from the South to consider the collective interest of the region above their personal interests in the quest for Southern president in 2023.

Edwin Kiagbodo Clark

Coalition Insists On President From S’East, Federal Character

The leader of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), Chief Edwin Clark, has cautioned politicians from the South to consider the collective interest of the region above their personal interests in the quest for Southern president in 2023.

 
The elder statesman, however, described as “madness” the unprecedented huge number of presidential aspirants from the South that obtained nomination forms of the major political parties.
 
No fewer than 35 politicians from the South have obtained Expression of Interest and Nomination forms from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
 
The nonagenarian told newsmen in his Abuja residence that it would be catastrophic for the region, if the presidential aspirants did not come together and prune down the number before the primaries, disclosing that elders from the region, in the next few weeks, would look into the matter and advise them accordingly.
 
He said: “What is happening now with this large number of presidential aspirants from the South is madness. If I’m to be realistic, they are not serious, particularly those from the South West and South South. There are some people that have gone to play double game. So, when it comes to where we say ‘no’, some people would come out to say ‘yes, we are contesting.’ So they know why some of them are there.
  
“For instance, there are reasons to be told that my friend, Adams Oshiomhole, the former national chairman of APC, was with Tinubu. I was surprised when I saw him entering the race. I’m surprised also that Senator Ibikunle Amosun, after seeing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo from his state, entered the race. If you come back to the South South, Nyesom Wike and Rotimi Amaechi want to be president, and both of them come from small Ikwerre. You can imagine what is going on.”

Clark advised politicians from the South to reject any move to make them a running mate to any Northern candidate. “They cannot do without us and we cannot do without them. That will show how serious we are. Anybody who offers himself as a running mate will be regarded as the most unpatriotic man, who has sold his own side of the country and not worthy of being respected and honoured” he added.

In the same vein, leaders of the South East-based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) have adopted as a working advocacy document, tagged ‘The Intersociety’s Roadmap/Guidelines for Equity and Peaceful Transition of Top Federal Seats of Power in 2023 in Nigeria’.

In a three-page research findings dated February 25, 2022, the coalition of over 20 human rights and pro-democracy organisations based in the South East called for equitable and peaceful transition and distribution of top federal public offices in 2023.

It asserted that Wike is unfit to contest the presidential election in 2023. In a statement signed by Jerry Chidozie Chukwuokolo, Okezie Kelechi, Emeka Umeagbalasi, Aloysius Attah and Chidimma Udegbunam, the group disqualified Wike from contesting based on his human rights records.

Noting that Wike is from the South South geo-political zone, which occupied the country’s top seat from 2010 to 2015, the coalition canvassed for a president of South East extraction and not presidency of Igbo extraction.

It also argued that there are ancestral Igbo citizens in North Central and other parts of the country who migrated to the area in 1600AD, 200 years before the Fulani incursion in Northern Nigeria.

The statement read in part: “The major reason Wike is unfit for the 2023 presidency is his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity and other internationally prohibited acts in Obigbo part of Rivers State following his proclamation on October 21, 2020.

“Wike had openly invited untrained, murderous and other atrocious acts perpetrator soldiers of the Nigerian Army and in the ‘war grade’ invasion that followed and lasted for over one month, according to several reports by Intersociety.”

The coalition also advised Jonathan to go home and rest, saying that his proposed second missionary journey in 2023 is morally uncalled for. They said that the best expected of him was to fatherly join former leaders of the country to ensure the equitable and peaceful transition of the country’s top federal seats of power in 2023, especially by joining in the ongoing campaigns to produce the next president from the South East.

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