The contest for the Senate Presidency of the 10th National Assembly took another dimension Sunday in Abuja, with the South-East Senate caucus asking President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to tread with caution against supporting injustice in any form.
In a communiqué after several hours of meeting held at the Maitama residence of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South), the caucus vehemently kicked against what it called the marginalisation of the zone.
The meeting had in attendance Senators Orji Uzor Kalu, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Victor Umeh, Osita Izunaso, Ezenwa Oyewuchi, Tony Nwoye, PC Ndubueze, Okey Ezea, Kelvin Chukwu and Osita Ngwu.
They posited that since the zone was tactically denied the presidential ticket of any of the two major political parties in the February 2023 general election, it ought to have been given the Senate Presidency slot in the interest of justice and fairness.
The communiqué reads: “We have observed with dismay the antics of persons with vested selfish Interests who have planted themselves around the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and have vowed to shut out the South East from the Senate Presidency of the 10th Senate.
“Beyond ethnic and religious considerations, in the forthcoming 10th Senate, the Southeast has been blessed with ranking Senators-elect Including members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) who have the cranial capacity, competence, influence, experience and Political followership to pilot the affairs of the Red Chamber, it becomes imperative that the All Progressives Congress upholds the Principle of natural Justice and equity which it preaches founded on reasons and zone the seat of Senate President to the South East region.
“That the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu should extend the same democratic opportunity he received from the outgoing administration which gave all aspirants equal opportunity to exercise their fundamental and constitutional rights during the APC Presidential Primaries. He should be conscious of the grave implications of zoning and endorsing a candidate from the South-South without any regard for the Southeast, such move will no doubt serve as a recipe for Injustice which will culminate to restiveness.
“We implore the President-elect to be sensitive to the times in Nigeria and ensure the country continues to thrive on the party of equity, unity and fairness to the tripod of Nigeria (Hausa Igbo Yoruba) and the geopolitical zones.
“The country is already divided amongst ethnic and religious lines due to the exclusion of the Southeast region, which formed the major reason the APC, received the amount of votes from the Southeast. The incoming Administration of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu must correct this anomaly by ensuring that the Southeast is given the opportunity to produce the next Senate President.
“With the side-lining of the South-east from producing the Presidential candidates of the major political parties before the general elections, the only means through which the zone can be compensated and given a sense of belonging is for the zone to produce the next Senate President as this will restore confidence of the people from the South-east and South- south geo-political zones and indeed all Nigerians in the unity of the country.
“The APC must rise above primordial and political interest and shun the winner takes all syndrome and pursue ethno-religious inclusivity and a strong, virile, united, progressive, prosperous, equitable and just democratic nation.
“Mr President-elect, how would an average Igbo man feel after he sees evidence of total discrimination. The South-east has been denied the chance of producing the president of Nigeria since 1966. The South-south has produced President for six years and also had Deputy Senate President In the outgoing administration. The only zone in the South that has not been favoured is the South-east. The outcry of marginalization by the South East and the entire Igbo should be addressed by your incoming administration rather than aggravating it. The South-west has President, the North-east has Vice President. It is only just that the least position at the moment that can assuage the South-east is given the chance to be the President of the 10th Senate.
“On this note we have collectively resolved to support South East aspirants of the APC. We remain committed and have since expanded negotiations with other well-meaning Senators-elect to rally round the South East to ensure that justice, fairness and unity of the country prevails.”
ACF rejects Akpabio
In a related development, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Sunday dissociated itself from the endorsement of Godswill Akpabio for Senate Presidency by the Coalition of Northern groups.
Musa Saidu, a member of the ACF, said this in a statement in Abuja.
Saidu, also the leader of the Arewa community in southern Nigeria, said endorsing Akpabio for the Senate Presidency would spell doom for Northern Nigeria.
“We hereby dissociate ourselves from the endorsement of Sen. Godswill Akpabio for the Senate Presidency by a coalition of Northern groups.
“The coalition is not speaking for the North; it is just speaking for itself. No true Northern group will want to endorse Akpabio for a sensitive position like that of Senate President because he is not friendly with the North.
“We are the people who know Akpabio because we are residents in the South, we know those who are friendly with the Northern people and Akpabio is actually not one of them,” he said.
Saidu added that the coalition must have made the endorsement out of ignorance.
“I want to condemn the endorsement in its entity because it was done out of ignorance. It is also possible that the groups were given some inducement to endorse Akpabio.
“I want to say that the Northern people are not beggars that will be endorsing people who are not friendly with them because of inducement,” said the statement.
Saidu said the ACF would continue to fight or speak against injustice in the country.
“Why should the All Progressives Congress (APC) be bent on zoning the 10th Senate Presidency to the South, when we have competent hands in the North?
“The North-west gave the APC the largest votes in the Feb. 25 presidential election, so why not consider somebody from the zone?
“I think it is time for the party to reward the zone for the massive votes rather than start looking for somebody from the South as Senate President,” he said. (NAN)