Prioritise restructuring if you want our votes, Southern, Middle Belt leaders tell Obi

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BY MAYOWA SAMUEL

Uba Group

Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo has revealed that the leadership of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum told Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to prioritise restructuring if he wants to get their support.

The leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group disclosed this in a telephone interview on national television on Wednesday.

The revelation came hours after top leaders of SMBLF including Adebanjo, Edwin Clark of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Dru Bitrus of the Middle Belt Forum, and George Obiozor of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide met with Obi.

Adebanjo, who described the former governor of Anambra State as a partner in progress, said the Labour Party presidential candidate is “fighting for the oppressed.”

“He (Obi) came to meet Southern and Middle Belt leaders in my house. It was an exchange of views; we believe in the same cause,” he said, adding that they won’t back any candidate that does not support restructuring.

“We are all partners in progress. The fight he is fighting is a fight for the oppressed,” he added.

Giving further details about the meeting, Adebanjo said, “Restructuring was at the front burner; we should have a country first before we have any development plan. That is the pillar on which the Southern and Middle Belt leaders stand.

“Constitutional review, community policing, devolution of power and others are all embedded in restructuring. Where we have a constitution where everybody is dissatisfied, you won’t have peace and without peace, there will be no stability. These are fundamental,” he stated.

Continuing, he said, “There is nothing new about restructuring; we are only saying let us go back to where we started before the military came. Where did we start? The constitution was made in 1964, endorsed by Awolowo, Azikwe and Sardauna, and was what we had until the military came in 1966 and imposed this constitution.

“This constitution is a fraudulent one and the government has never refuted it.

They set aside the constitution before 1966, imposed this one and included all the things that were excluded that are causing confusion till today. We must go back to that constitution,” he further stated.

Adebanjo had been unequivocal about his support for a South-East presidency and may back the Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections.

In March, the elder statesman had protested that the South-East zone made up of Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Ebonyi has been denied presidency since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.

“How can you say rotation in the North and South, and when it comes to the South, it would be South-West and South-South every time? Is the South-East not part of the South? What is the moral we are talking about?

“Is it not the South-West that has served Obasanjo for eight years, Osinbajo for another eight years as Vice President? South-South has served its own. Is the South-East not part of the South? That is the question we should answer,” he once said in an interview.