Magnus Eze, Enugu
Ahead of the inauguration of the Ninth Senate in June, political leaders, groups and civil society actors in the South East have appealed to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone the Senate President position to the region.
They said such action would be a sure way of bringing the region back to the fold and diffuse feelings of marginalisation and exclusion by the present administration.
National Chairman of the United People’s Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, former executive chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, and former commissioner for Information in Imo State, Nze Elvis Agukwe, in separate interviews with Daily Sun, said zoning of the senate presidency to the South East would be a soothing balm to the frayed nerves of the people of the region.
Okorie said: “Any person with any sense of proportion, equity and fair play would not need to be lobbied to know that it’s just fair and equitable that the senate presidency should go to the South East and the speaker of the House of Representatives to the North; the North East can have that. They already have it in Yakubu Dogara; maybe another person can now have it.”
Asked whether the senate rules, regarding ranking would not come to play, Okorie replied: “No! As one of the APC senators-elect, former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, is a ranking member of the National Assembly, having been a member of the House of Representatives in the aborted third republic.”
He said what is required at the moment is political expediency, as going to the very strict definition of ranking would clearly exclude a people.
“When you talk of ranking; you must consider, too, that Kalu had been in the House of Representatives. After that, he had been a two-term governor. So, there are certain political exigencies that we have to bear. There are certain rules that we would be strict about, then, you know, ab nitio that you want to exclude some people. After all, we have seen situations where Assistant Inspector Generals were promoted to Inspector Generals; after certain considerations.
“We have seen it in the Army, too. We saw when the late General Shehu Yar’Adua was promoted from the rank of Colonel to Major General, to be able to belong to the Supreme Military Council; for political exigency,” he pointed out.
On his part, Amadi said APC South East leaders worked so hard in the face of the stiff opposition they encountered from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stronghold and succeeded in securing 25 per cent for President Muhammadu Buhari; in at least three states.
“What this means, he said, is that, “if, in 2015, the senate presidency was reserved for Igbo, then, this year, it should be reserved for them. Most importantly, Igbo would want to be included in government, working with the president to solve some of the problems bedevilling the nation. This is not the time to isolate ourselves from government. Igbo should be part of government, to help the president, who, so to say, is the last of the titans to deliver. He now has another chance to govern the country…
“Not just mere tokenism positions; they want to be included in seriously finding solutions to the problems in this country. So, the senate president position or nothing less than the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is what Igbo in APC deserve. They need to be part of the policy; policy advisers and all that because they really worked under too much difficulty and opposition, especially in the context of the PDP stronghold in the South East before now and Peter Obi’s position in the zone.
“APC members in the South East really worked hard and deserve to be part of every rejoicing; every work and governance in this administration.”
On his part, Agukwe said the idea of senate president for the South East is achievable and should be commenced in earnest.
“We need to start working immediately and get the position for Ndigbo.
“It has nothing to do with party affiliation, but the corporate interest of Ndigbo,” said Agukwe.