The Middle Belt Forum on Thursday formally endorsed the candidature of the presidential candidate of the People’s Trust, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, for the February 16 presidential election.
The forum’s chairman, Dan Suleiman, announced the decision to Olawepo-Hashim at the end of a meeting held in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by prominent members of the forum, including a former governor of old Kwara State, Chief Cornelius Adebayo; and a former Adjutant-General of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd.).
In announcing the decision, Suleiman recalled that the process of endorsing a candidate started last year when the forum invited three presidential candidates from the Middle Belt for screening.
He said although the forum earlier gave the three contestants the option of meeting and coming up with a consensus candidate to be supported, they returned and asked the forum to take the decision for them and they would support whoever emerged.
He said, “Recall that we invited the three of you from the Middle Belt to listen to you.
“After going through the process that started last year, the forum has concluded the process and has come up with a candidate; that person is you (Olawepo-Hashim).”
Olawepo-Hashim thanked members of the forum for the endorsement, saying the Middle Belt had shown commitment to national unity.
He assured members of the forum that he would not disappoint the nation if elected.
He said, “Today, 11 of the 19 northern states have been taken over by bandits and insurgents.
“The South has also been taken over by robbers and kidnappers. The country is going through threats.
“I am not surprised that you have settled for somebody that can do the job. Next election is a battle for the soul of Nigeria and not about just election.
“I assure you that the decision you took is the one being taken by Nigerians and you will not regret the decision.”
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate has scheduled the commencement of his campaign for Saturday.
According to a statement from his campaign office, Olawepo-Hashim will unfold the thrust of his manifesto at a rally scheduled to hold at the Old Parade Ground in Garki Area 10, Abuja.
The statement read, “Presidential candidate of the People’s Trust, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, is set to formally inaugurate his campaign for the presidential election on Saturday, January 12, in Abuja.”