Noble Uche Agbaeze
We have read and heard from different media platforms, a zoning arrangement made by the respectable and capable leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), our own dear party, which precluded the people of South East from producing the next Senate President, a position expected by the whole world to be zoned to the South East. This is because of the wide and valid belief that the region did not get the position during the current dispensation because no person from the zone won as a senator on the platform of the APC. Today we have Orji Uzor Kalu and others as elected senators on the APC platform from the South East. It was expected that, with this, the South East should produce the Senate President because the APC has not changed its 2015 power-sharing arrangements. With APC’s zoning announced recently, it means the party has changed its position. Another worrisome and disheartening issue faced by the region at the moment is also the information that not even the Deputy Senate President has been zoned to the region at the moment by the APC.
This arrangement, if allowed to stand, is capable of causing disaffection along ethnic lines, bearing in mind that, although the APC did not secure the highest number of votes from the South East, it recorded a geometric increase in the number of votes cast in its favour as against the 2015 results.
Many of us from the South East donated our time, intellect and resources during the campaigns. We also lost relationships, property, sustained injuries, suffered and survived so many forms of attacks to ensure APC got the current result.
The decision as regards the position of Deputy Senate President must be rescinded as it is inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and also inconsistent with the Constitution of the APC; it is also not part of the ingredients that encourage national integration, which invigorates the foundation of Nigeria, and is at the same time repugnant to equity and good conscience.
Please, refer to Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), captioned Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, under Section 14(3), which expressly provides: “The composition of the government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
With due respect to the leadership of the party, the principle of Federal Character should not be treated inconsequentially in this matter or in any other, regarding the formation of the Federal Government, this is because it touches our national unity and existentialism as a nation.
We would recall that one of the issues raised by some ethnic nationalities before our nation was able to achieve independence was “the fear of domination.” The Willink’s Commission of 1958, which was ordered by Her Majesty’s government, unequivocally made this known to the world in its 1959 report. Of a truth, these fears are vigorously reinforcing in the minds of many and we plead that our leaders use their good offices to mitigate these fears. The particular issue at hand is one golden opportunity to dispel these fears and strengthen our national unity, loyalty, belief and commitment in this great nation. Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon (as he then was) once asserted on May 27, 1967, “to correct the imbalance in the administrative structure of the country and to minimise future political friction and ensure a stable federation.”
Federal character and national integration are the pillars upon which this nation was built. If the pillars are not always reinforced to be strong enough what then shall happen to the building they are holding?
Let me also humbly remind our leaders of Article 2 of the Constitution of the APC, couched SUPREMACY OF THE PARTY CONSTITUTION: “Subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and any other laws for the time being in force in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the provisions of this constitution shall be supreme PROVIDED that where any rule, regulation or any other enactment of the party is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, such a rule, regulation and enactment shall, to the extent of its inconsistency, be null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
What the Constitution of the party is saying is very clear and the position of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on this matter as provided fewer than 14(3) cited above is also very clear. However, the combined effects of the above laws are revealing that the said decision of the party on zoning and formation of the Federal Government for 2019 is without a modicum of consistency to both the party’s constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we most humbly ask that the party rescinds its position on this matter.
Article 2 of the Constitution of the APC is also in pari materia with Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It says: “If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
Let us also see Article 7(i) of the APC Constitution: “To promote and foster the unity, political stability and national consciousness of the people of Nigeria.” Article 7(viii) says: “To promote and uphold the practice of internal democracy at all levels of the party’s organisation.” Article 7 (xii) states: “To promote social, political and economic freedoms and the general welfare of the people, with a view to permanently ensuring the establishment of peace, freedom, dignity of labour, equity, fraternity and happiness for the people of Nigeria.” The presumed decision of the party is not making a section of the country happy, as it has not shown the dignity in our labour, flowing from the above, could this decision be said to have upheld the constitution of the party? To my own interpretations, the answer is NO.
The world is looking up to the leadership of the APC to use their good offices and avert the injustice to the people of South East through a conscionable decision that shall not be repugnant to equity, natural justice and good conscience.
Finally, we respectfully urge that justice be done to our people, we are also respectfully calling on the leaders to uphold the internal democracy of the party by sufficiently carrying the South East along, because of those of us who suffered for the party.
The APC should invoke that justice, which gives to everyone his due. There should be that justice, which is an expression of our mutual recognition of each other’s basic dignity, and an acknowledgement that, if we are to live together in an interdependent community, we must treat each other as equals. There should be that justice that makes a society internally harmonious and good.
It is our expectation that the party and its leaders shall do the needful to the glory of God Almighty.
• Agbaeze, national secretary/spokesperson, South East Mobilization Movement for APC, writes from Abuja