THE Pan Niger Delta Forum, on Saturday, urged the South-South and the South-East geopolitical zones to quickly meet and reach a resolution on the region to produce the next president by 2023.
PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, who stated this in an interview with The PUNCH, also commended the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, who said Friday that power should return to the South in 2023 for the sake of fairness.
Zulum had at an event in Lagos said there was a need for fairness in the country, adding that marginalisation had become the loudest concern from the citizenry.
The governor also said that the South-East and the South-South should rise up and start the negotiation for power ahead of the 2023 election.
Reacting on Saturday, the PANDEF spokesman lauded Zulum for speaking up at a time when some sectional interests in the country said there was nothing like the zoning arrangement.
Robinson said, “PANDEF believes in equity, justice and fairness as guiding ideals. We have also asked that the leadership and governance of the Nigerian state be based on these ideals. The North has ruled the country for eight years already and in 2023, it is just proper that power should shift to areas that have not produced a president before.
“So, Zulum is in order that power should shift to the South. He should be commended for saying the truth in the midst of people saying there is no zoning. Power should shift to the South –between the South-South and the South-East.”
He added that though PANDEF protects the interest of the Niger-Delta people, it, however, also advocates fairness, equity, and justice in the distribution of resources and power in the country.
The PANDEF spokesman said the group recognised the fact that the South-East has not ruled the country since the return to democracy in 1999 but also opined that the South-South should be allowed to complete an eight-year tenure which former President Goodluck Jonathan started in 2011 before leaving power in 2015.
“The South-South and the South-East have a cordial relationship and they should begin negotiations quickly to come up with what is best for the country,” he said.
A visit by some All Progressives Congress chieftains to the Abuja residence of Jonathan last November had raised the stakes in permutations for the 2023 general elections.
Constitutionally, the former president from Bayelsa State has a right to a fresh term of four years. Jonathan lost his re-election to incumbent Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) in 2015.
When asked whether PANDEF would be backing Jonathan in 2023, Robinson said the former president has not informed the group of his decision to run again.
He, however, said Nigeria, at this stage, needs a president who would not represent any ethnic or sectional interests but a president who would represent the interests of all Nigerians.