The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) on Saturday blasted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for picking a northerner as its 2023 presidential candidate.
The PDP had come under criticism for throwing its presidential race open despite calls for a power shift to the Southern part of the country next year.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged as the party’s presidential candidate after defeating the River State governor, Nyesom Wike, and 11 other aspirants in the primary election held on May 28.
In a communique issued at the end of its meeting in Abuja, the SMBLF also knocked other political parties with presidential candidates from the northern part of the country.
The communique was signed by Chief Edwin Clark, (PANDEF), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere), Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt Forum), and Amb. Okey Emuchay (Ohanaeze Ndigbo).
Other parties with northern presidential candidates are the Action Alliance (AA), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Young Progressive Party (YPP).
The regional leaders reaffirmed their position on the power rotation between the North and the South.
They, however, commended the All Progressives Congress (APC), African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), Peoples Redemption Party(PRP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) for picking their presidential candidates from the South.
The forum also acknowledged the interest shown by youths in the 2023 elections and cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against disenfranchising any section of the country.
The communique read: “Forum notes the current upsurge in youth voter registration and implores all young Nigerians who have attained the age of voting to go out in their numbers to exercise their constitutional right;
“However, condemns the haphazard manner in which the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise is being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in parts of the country; calls for proper management of the process and even distribution of the Voter Enrolment Devices across the country, to ensure that all eligible Nigerians, in all locations, are registered to vote.”