2019: Middle Belt Will Stick To Olawepo-Hashim, Says Dan Suleiman

2019: Middle Belt ’ll stick to Olawepo-Hashim, says Dan Suleiman

A
MIDDLE Belt Forum leader, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (retd), has said
that the forum will stick to its earlier endorsement of the Peoples
Trust (PT) presidential candidate, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim.

Suleiman,
who stated this at a meeting with members of the forum in Abuja, said
he and a number of the forum’s members were not carried along in the
adoption of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate
former Vice President Atiku Abubakar by ethnic groups cutting across the
North and South.

A faction of Pan-Yoruba socio-political
organisation, Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), the Ohanaeze
Ndigbo, the Pan- Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum
had on Sunday announced the adoption of Atiku as candidate of the
regions in the February 16 election.

But Suleiman, who addressed
members of the Middle Belt Forum in Abuja, said the majority of the
members were not carried along before the announcement.

He stated
that the region was part of a broad-based approach towards arriving at a
common candidate, but that the Middle Belt expected to be carried
along before the other regions announced their adoption.

He added
that since the emergence of Atiku as PDP candidate in October, a number
of the ethnic nationality groups have been doing things differently.

“We
in the Middle Belt shortlisted three candidates, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim,
Dr. John Dara and Dr. Obadiah Malafia. We asked the three of them to
meet and pick a single candidate, but they could not arrive at a single
candidate. After that they asked you to help them pick a single
candidate and we picked Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim here.

“If we will change that, the other regions should talk to us, ” he said.

He
added that the Middle Belt expected support from the other regions,
having supported the causes of the Southwest and other groups in the
past.

According to him, since Atiku knows that he is a leader of
the Middle Belt and he has not told him why the region should vote for
him, he would abide by the earlier decision to adopt Olawepo-Hashim as
candidate of the Middle Belt Forum.

Some of the youth leaders at
the meeting expressed divergent views about the adoption of Atiku as the
zone’s preferred candidate.

Some of them edged to stick to Olawepo-Hashim. But, some expressed the desire to vote for Atiku.

Olawepo-Hashim,
who also attended the meeting, expressed shock that some leaders of the
Middle Belt Forum, who attended the enlarged meeting where Atiku was
adopted, failed to defend the choice earlier made by the Middle Belt
Forum.

He said despite moves to force him out of the race, he would keep pushing for his election in a bid to liberate the Middle Belt.

He told the gathering that being a “self-funded” candidate, he has faced series of attacks by certain forces.

He insisted the he would keep the flag flying till the election day.

“Even
though our collective resolve remains anybody but Buhari, we will not
sell out your mandate; we will continue to push for the election as
forcefully as we can and God willing, victory is assured,” he said.