Presidency: Middle Belt Forum restates endorsement of Atiku

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

…Says Buhari North-Central for PDP candidate

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has reaffirmed its endorsement of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the February 16, presidential election calling on voters in the north central states to massively vote for him.

President of the MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who disclosed this yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja said President Muhammadu Buhari and his party have failed in their campaign promises and must be voted out.
He said the MB states particularly Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa have suffered untold hardship from insecurity resulting in the killings of over of its citizens under Buhari’s regime.

Pogu explained that “one major consideration for us in this election is the security of lives and property of the peoples of the Middle Belt region.  It is no secret that in the close to four years of the Buhari – led administration, the entire Middle Belt was turned into a vast killing field.

” According to Amnesty International, a human rights group, 1,814 people were killed across 17 states in Nigeria within 6 months in 2018. In 2017, 894 deaths via killings, was recorded in  2017. Within the first 4 months of the year 2018, 801 persons had been murdered in the Middle Belt alone” 

He noted that “the property lost in the have not been properly quantified in pecuniary terms but the world knows that the attacks are characterized by burning of houses, farms, vehicles and any property within sight. The primary responsibility of government as enshrined in Section 14 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) is the protection of lives and property. 

“The Buhari-led administration has failed woefully in that duty and endangered the entire Middle Belt region. We therefore had no hesitation in rejecting him as a candidate deserving of our support in the forthcoming presidential election”.

Reaffirming the endorsement, he said “For us in the Middle Belt, therefore, the forthcoming presidential election on the 16th day of February, 2019 is crucial and very critical to the survival of the peoples of the Middle Belt. It will determine whether the onslaught on the region will continue for the next four years or whether the people will receive succor from the Federal Government of Nigeria. 

“After discussing with Atiku Abubakar and observed his campaigns, we believe he has the intellectual and mental capacity as well as the vitality to attend to the security challenges in the Middle Belt, in particular and the entire nation, in general. This was our primary consideration in our endorsement of the candidate”
According to him, “another major consideration for our endorsement was the candidates stand on the issue of restructuring of the Nigerian federation. As presently constituted, the Nigerian federation is unwieldy and a contraption for the annihilation of the peoples of the Middle Belt, our cultures and aspirations. 

“The position of the Middle Belt over the years, has been that a restructured Nigeria will work best for the development of the region”
He explained that “Aiku’s stand, when we discussed with him and subsequently throughout his campaigns, has been an unwavering commitment to restructuring. He has a plan and has committed himself to doing by undertaking to present a bill on restructuring to the National Assembly within the first 6 months. 

“This is music to our ears. We also noted his pan- Nigerian acceptability as a detribalized Nigerian and we are convinced that his tenure will not be characterized by nepotism in his appointments, clannish in his dealings nor bigoted in his relationship with the peoples of the Middle Belt.
” It is on the basis of the foregoing that we call on all our people in the Middle Belt region to turn out en mass on this coming Saturday, 16th February, 2019 and vote for Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the PDP, as it is only under him that peace and security of lives and property can return to the entire Middle Belt region”

It will be recalled that the Middle Belt Forum, togethe with the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and the Northern Elders Forum had adopted Atiku on February 3, but a faction of the group led by Gowon Egbonu disowned the endorsement and instead expressed hope in President Buhari’ administration.

But responding to the development, Dr. Pogu dismissed the disclaimer by Gowon saying ‘he (Gowon)/is not a member of the MBF working committee, so he is not privy to decisions taken by the body”

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