ACF leaders: South should stop issuing threats over zoning

The controversial power shift question got the attention of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday.

The North’s socio-political organisation kicked against threats from the South over zoning and power shift from the North.

The ACF said the North would not succumb to blackmail and intimidation.

Also yesterday, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide warned politicians from the Southeast against settling for the Vice President slot.

According to the organisation, it should be a power shift to the Southeast in 2023 or nothing.

Many groups in the South, such as the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum have been aggressively pushing for power shift.

Governors from the South have also insisted that power should return to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

There have been protests by groups at the headquarters of the two major political parties that they should zone the presidential slot to the South.

Yesterday, ACF, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Murtala Aliyu, said the law and democratic principles must be followed in the emergence of the next president.

It maintained that it was not opposed to any part of the country producing Buhari’s successor.

The ACF statement noted with dismay that some southern politicians had been issuing warnings against the election of another northerner as president.

This, it said, is even though the North has only ruled for 10 years since the beginning of the fourth republic in 1999.

The group lamented: “Southerners always refuse to acknowledge the fact that, all the beef, all the tomatoes, the onions, the beans, etc consumed in the South, are produced in the North.

“As they say, the North brings nothing to the table and is entitled to nothing.”

The Forum warned that blackmail and intimidation of break-up of Nigeria should be stopped as the southern leaders neither have patent nor monopoly of issuing such threats.

The statement titled: “Enough of the blackmail” reads: “A long-running political riddle that has continued to frustrate all efforts at achieving ‘justice, equity and fair play’ is this: anything and everything in which the North has superiority or advantage or strength is, in the opinion of many Southerners, fake or contrived or speculative and therefore unacceptable.

“These Southerners contest the facts that the North has 78 per cent of the landmass of Nigeria. They refuse to accept that the North has over 55 per cent of the population of Nigeria.

“They won’t concede that the voting population in the Northwest region of the North alone is bigger than those of the Southeast and Southsouth combined.

“They will never acknowledge the fact that all the beef, all the tomatoes, the onions, the beans, etc. consumed in the South, is produced in the North. They concede nothing.

“On the contrary, they say the North brings nothing to the table and is entitled to nothing. Not to an equitable share of national revenues, not to a fair share of employment in the public services or to admissions into public schools.

“If the law says, for example, that election outcomes must be based on one man one vote, they quickly dismiss it as an ‘imposition’ by Northerners.

“They contest every fact, every principle including those that formed the basis of our union such as our federation, our system of administration, our democracy, etc.

“As we inch up towards the 2023 elections, it comes as no surprise that some Southern politicians are giving their Northern counterparts an ultimatum which roughly translates thus: elect no one from the North as President or we will break up the country!

“But what are the facts? Nigeria’s Fourth Democratic Republic is about 22 years old. Of this, Northerners ruled for only 10 years.

“But in spite of this, some southern politicians are furious, issuing dare warnings against the election of any Northerner as president.

“It has to be stated clearly and for the avoidance of any doubt that the North is not and has never been opposed to the election of any Nigerian from any part of the country as President. Anything that will be done to achieve that however must accord with the law and democratic principles.

“Gone are the days when Northerners felt blackmailed and intimidated by threats of re-structuring, secession, break up or break down of Nigeria.

“The North does not seek to dominate any part of the country but will not submit itself to be relegated to serfdom.

“Those issuing ultimatums are to be pitied knowing that they know not what they are doing. They own no patent nor monopoly of the art or science of ultimatums. Enough of the blackmail.”

Suit seeking to stop PDP primaries
The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed May 10 for hearing in a suit seeking to stop the planned Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary fixed for May 28.

An ex-parte application for an order of injunction restraining the PDP from proceeding with its scheduled primary was filed by one of the party’s 17 presidential aspirants, Cosmas Ndukwe.

Ndukwe’s disqualification by the David-Mark Presidential Screening Committee was on Wednesday upheld by an appeal panel chaired by PDP National Chairman Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

When the matter was called yesterday, counsel to the plaintiff, Paul Erokoro (SAN), told the court that he received PDP’s affidavit stating why the primary election should not be stopped late on Wednesday.

Erokoro prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him to peruse the document and respond to the reasons adduced by the PDP against the suit of his client.

Counsel to the PDP, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), as well as counsel to the other defendants, did not oppose the request for an adjournment.

Justice Donatus Okorowo subsequently fixed May 10 to hear the matter and asked parties to file and exchange their processes ahead of the day.

On April 28, Ndukwe, a former Abia House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, filed an ex-parte application for an order of injunction restraining the PDP from proceeding with its scheduled primary election.

He said the primary election should be put on hold pending the hearing and determination of his suit challenging the position of the party on the issue of zoning the party’s presidential ticket.

Justice Okorowo, rather than grant Ndukwe’s request, ordered that the PDP should appear before him on May 5 and show cause why the court should not grant Ndukwe’s request.

Ndukwe listed the PDP, its national chairman, National Secretary Senator Samuel Anyanwu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as defendants in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2022.

<<The Nation>>