Supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan have commenced grassroots mobilisation in the South-East and South-South zones for the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The group, under the aegis of Citizens Network for Peace and Development in Nigeria (CNPDN) had endorsed Tinubu in November.
In a statement issued after the grassroots campaign commencement in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the national secretary of the coalition, Francis Wainwei disclosed that members were against the idea of having another northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari when he completes his eight years in office next year.
The group made a cash donation of N1 million to support Tinubu’s campaign in the two geopolitical zones, and vowed to do everything to ensure the next president emerged from the South.
The CNPDN was among the few coalitions that openly pushed for Jonathan to contest for the presidential ticket on the platform of the APC earlier this year.
Jonathan, who promised to consult widely in the build-up, reneged at the last minute, paving the way for Tinubu to clinch the party ticket.
But Wainwei, an indigene of Bayelsa State, told newsmen on Monday that the group had unanimously resolved to support Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election.
According to him, the group’s primary reason for throwing their weight behind a southern presidential candidate was to promote national unity, equity, fairness and justice.
The statement read: “Our position that the next president of this country should come from the South is driven by same vision and principles. 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 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 therefore call on the South-South governors who have betrayed their people by supporting another northern candidate to take over from Buhari after eight 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 per cent 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.”
“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”.