Political bigwigs in the Southsouth and the Southeast have begun moves to present a consensus presidential candidate in 2023.

It was gathered that the Southsouth and Southeast Assembly (SSA), which was inaugurated on Monday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was given the assignment to unite political leaders from the zones and ensure a common ground on a presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 poll.

SSA’s Chairman of National Working Council (NWC) and Director General, Bathelomew Aguugo, noted that it would be proper for either the Southsouth or the Southeast to produce the next President.

Aguugo, who spoke at the inauguration of the Assembly’s NWC, assured the people that it had begun moves to unite the two regions to speak with one voice to produce a candidate instead of losing it to another region.

He said: “We will, as a matter of utmost importance, play a great role to see that come 2023, the Southsouth and Southeast speak in one voice and vehemently present and support only one presidential candidate, not minding which of the areas he or she hails from.

“Truly said, we must make haste while the day tarries and select the man or woman with the sociopolitical, economic and leadership capacity to represent us, because, as a matter of tenacity, we must not fail this time round.”

The chairman said the region and the assembly would support only a candidate with the courage to develop the two regions without bias.

“However, it should be noted that only candidates whose ideals are compatible with this new drive for development, justice and togetherness of our people will be adopted. Our decision to carry on this mission is only borne out of the burning desire to put things right,” Aguugo said.

Also, Prof. Julie Umukoro, a member of SSA’s Board of Trustee (BoT), who is also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre Art at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), said the body would engage the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) of South and Ohaneze Ndigbo of the East to work together.

She said: “We are out to prove that the balkanisation of the country must stop. The objective of this group is to broker peace. Only united people can make progress. We want to put our house in order to be successful in 2023.

“The fact that 11 states make up these two regions does not mean that other states are not important. We will extend our hands to other states to support us. We want to bring ourselves together because we need peace to move on.”

Also, another group, the Southsouth-Southeast for 2023, urged political leaders in the two zones to unite ahead of the poll.

Its President, Mr. Pureh Kalango, appealed to the leaders and residents to prepare for a massive campaign and sensitisation to build the largest voting bloc in the country.

He urged the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone their presidential tickets to the zone.