By Taiwo Adebowale
Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF), Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), have jointly proclaimed their endorsement and adoption of the presidential ticket of Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Peter Obi of the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) in Abuja on Sunday, February 3.
A sources close to Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Enugu told Vanguard last week that the Southern Leaders’ Forum comprising Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, PANDEF and the Middle Belt Leaders had earlier agreed to adopt any presidential candidate who promised to restructure the country.
The source said that while Atiku Abubakar had shown commitment to restructure the country if given the mandate, President Muhammadu Buhari was not enthusiastic to do so, despite setting up the Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s committee on the issue.
It was said that the leaders of Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, including Prof Ango Abdullahi and Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had also pledged to support the restructuring of the country as it would benefit northerners, hence their eagerness to endorse Atiku and Obi’s joint ticket.
Spokesman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, while confining today’s meeting last week said: “the leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, PANDEF, NEF and the Middle Belt will meet on Sunday to deliberate on the issue. Atiku says he will restructure the country for the nation to move forward and he has the template. “We do not hate President Buhari, but he has not shown any enthusiasm to restructure the country.
“We do not hate President Buhari, but he has not shown any enthusiasm to restructure the country. The north has realised that even after getting more local governments and states more than the southern part, things are not easy for their people.
“They have also realised that despite the huge allocations they get from the states and local governments, the north is not developing because few people are cornering their resources.
“We have all agreed to meet in Abuja to deliberate and know who to endorse. Ohanaeze had already done so. So, our own position is already known. We must restructure this country for the sake of the future generations to come.
“President Buhari has not said anything about restructuring the country. Although he set up the el-Rufai Committee on restructuring, he is not interested in the project. He has not said anything on restructuring unlike Atiku who is openly committed to it. Atiku has the template on how he will restructure Nigeria and that is why he has our support.”
The leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Forum had last Sunday grilled Atiku on his electoral promises to Nigerians, particularly on the issues connected with restructuring of the country.
The elders which comprised members of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Niger Delta Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation- Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum questioned Abubakar at the Abuja residence of Edwin Clark, leader of PANDEF.
Abubakar, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential aspirant was the first to appear before the Forum.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo, said, “We have been meeting for quite sometime. We are besieged with matters of national importance affecting the health of our country.
“One of the programmes we decided to embark on is to talk with those who have expressed desire to lead our country to contest for the presidency.
“We wanted to rub minds with them; we wanted to know their views about the things that are of importance to us so that by the time we finish the interaction, we will be able to assure ourselves which of them we think will reflect our aspirations and rejig our country and bring it to where our country men and women will like it to be.
“By sheer force of providence, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin Adamawa has become the first person to be with us.”