Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Ahead of inauguration of the Ninth Assembly, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Chike Okafor, has urged the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to consider zoning the speakership position to the South East.
Okafor made the case for the zone when he received members of the Arewa Good Governance and Transparency Initiative, who paid him a solidarity visit, in Abuja.
This was even as the lawmaker officially declared his bid to lead the Green Chamber in the ninth assembly.
He said he has already written to the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, to inform him of his desire to contest the speakership position.
Zoning the position to the South East, Okafor said, will give the zone a fair deal in the scheme of things under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Okafor, who represents Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo federal constituency of Imo State, recalled that the South East could not produce a principal officer in the House in 2015, because the APC leadership said there was no ranking member of the party from the zone.
The lawmaker argued that since the South East now has ranking APC members in the Green Chamber, the party should compensate the zone with the speakership position.
He said: “In 2015, the APC denied the South East principal office positions in the national assembly, on the ground that we did not have a ranking member under the APC.
“I was slated for leadership position then, but was eventually denied the position of deputy whip because I was a first timer; now, I’m back and ranking.
“It needs no saying that the South East, which was denied a leadership position in the ruling party leadership caucus of the Eighth Assembly deserves compensation in the Ninth Assembly.
“And, I‘m the appropriate vehicle for an equitable compensation to the South East.
“We are aware of some of the things you may have heard before now, and the name already put in circulation as the automatic beneficiary of the speakership position, and seeming exclusion of the South East.
“It is, however, unthinkable that our party will abandon the more than 400,000 supporters of our party, who voted for the APC across the South East, to cede the speakership to a zone that already has the vice president, the national leader of the APC and multiple appointments.”
Okafor added that “a ruling party doesn’t just look at numbers alone, it also looks at national interest; it looks at social justice; it considers political stability and harmony in the body politics.
“It feels the pulse of the nation and weighs in on equitable inclusion of federating units of the country, in line with the provisions of the constitution of the country and the party; even as it affects sharing of political offices, and looking at all these indices, as a party, we’ve not given the South East a fair deal. Not yet.”