By Muhammad Yusuf
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, political allies of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who in November 2022, endorsed candidade of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have commenced grassroots mobilisation in the South-soutn and the South-east geopolitical zones.
Jonathan’s supporters, who are members of Citizens Network for Peace and Development in Nigeria (CNPDN), while flagging off the campaign, held in Porthacourt, Rivers state capital, said the next president of Nigeria must emerge from the Southern part of the country.
The coalition which is non-partisan, however called on its members in Rivers state to vote massively for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Siminalayi Fubara.
Earlier in the year, CNPDN, was among the first Southern Coalition to openly urge former President Jonathan to run for office on the platform of the APC.
The Coalition had also involved prominent Southern leaders to prevail on Jonathan to join the race but Jonathan who promised to consult widely, reneged at the last minute, paving the way for Tinubu to emerge as the presidential candidate of APC.
National secretary of the Coalition, Francis Okereke Wainwei, who hails from Bayelsa state while briefing newsmen, said they unanimously resolved to support and vote Tinubu in the forthcoming presidential election in 2023.
Wainwei said leaders and members of the coalition, have also aligned themselves with the position of the Northern Governors Forum of the APC and the Southern Governors’ Forum, who had declared for a Southern President in 2023.
He said the primary reason for the support of Southern President in 2023, is to promote national unity, equity, fairness and justice.
“In the same vein, our position that the next President of this country should come from the South is driven by same vision and principles,’ he told newsmen.
Adding, he noted that “we believe strongly that such will strengthen the unity and peace of the nation; it will give a better sense of belonging to the people of Southern Nigeria and foster a more viable peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.
“We were therefore surprised by the betrayal of the same cause by some of the Southern Governors, especially the South South Governors, except Nyesom Wike, who had earlier declared for a Southern President, to abandon same and started pursuing their personal interests instead of the collective interest of the region.
“We are therefore, calling on the South South governors who have betrayed their people by supporting another Northern candidate to take over from Buhari after 8 years of a president from the North, to resign immediately.
“This is because the people of the South South zone can no longer trust them with their common heritage as they have placed their personal interests above the collective interest of their people.
“Our call on them to resign is also premised on the fact that they recently received huge sums of money via the 13% derivation fund and squandered same in pursuit of their personal interests at the expense of their people.
“We are also calling on the South South States’ Houses of Assembly to impeach the said governors if they fail to resign as requested.
“We shall mobilise our members across the South South States to force the said governors to resign or get impeached. We can’t allow such selfish governors to continue to govern us anymore. We must all place the collective interest of our people above our personal interests for our region to experience holistic and accelerated development.”
While clling on members of the Coalition to mobilise massively for Tinubu, Wainwei said: “In order to ensure that a Southern President is elected in 2023 , we hereby call on all our members and people of the South East and the South South zones to massively vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for President in 2023.
“Tinubu is the easiest means to electing a President from Southern extraction in 2023.He has nationwide acceptance and has the requisite political experience to navigate Nigeria to greatness as President of Nigeria.”
On the governorship election in Rivers state, the group said: “We are also using this medium to call on our members and people of Rivers State to vote, PDP gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara as governor of Rivers State. We are supporting the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State because of the massive infrastructural development built by the current PDP government in the state.”
The coalition, therefore, made a cash donation of N1 million to support Tinubu’s campaign in the two geopolitical zones.