APC and South-East dilemma (1)
THE emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in late 2013 opened up a sinister debate among the South East political enthusiasts. The crux of the debate was on the future of the Igbos under the emerging ‘mega party.’
Eagle-eyed politicians either saw it coming or anticipated that the APC was up to some surprise in the upcoming elections and so, there was need to position for sharing the booty when it eventually arrives.
In the ensuing debate prior to the elections, while some argued that APC holds no future for the Igboman considering the configuration and the powers that be in the party, others almost fought one another insisting that the APC is the only, and perhaps the last hope of the Igboman to realise his dream of at least, launching himself back into political relevance in the Nigerian political equation.
They premised this permutation on the calculation that if APC succeeded in wresting power from the PDP, it would want to portray itself as icon of natural justice and equity by zoning the Presidency to the South-East which is yet to produce the President of Nigeria since after Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
This hope was dashed during the APC primaries which produced Muhammadu Buhari as its flag bearer for the 2015 polls. Owelle Rochas Okorocha, a foundation member and strong contributor to the emergence of APC as a party lost out to a distant third place for whatever ‘expedient’ reasons.
That expediency perhaps, paved way for the eventual victory of the APC at the 2015 polls. The hope of realising the dream of producing a Nigerian President from the Igbo extraction evaporated, maybe, for the time being.
The APC failed to project itself as symbol of equity and justice for both the minority group and the majority. Having won the electoral war, it was time to share the booty.
The truth remains that the Igbos overwhelmingly and still unapologetically voted for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defying the call by the few, will I say, ‘eagle-eyed’ or ‘self-serving’ politicians to key into the ‘imminent, change of baton. Although the Igbos lost out, they, however, proved bookmakers wrong that ‘the Igbos will have a grossly divided vote’.
For once, they were unanimous in their assertion that despite not benefitting so much from the PDP-led administration, the incoming one led by the APC may not serve it any better.
Were they right in this assumption? The unfolding political drama at the National Assembly might as well produce a perfect answer. On June 09, 2015, the National Assembly held elections to choose the Senate President (SP), Deputy Senate President (DSP), Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the upper and lower chambers respectively.
Capitalising on a political impasse within the APC, the PDP was able to pull a deadly string to produce the Deputy Senate President in the person of Senator Ike Ekweremadu who represents one of the South-East states.
Dr. Bukola Saraki (who was not anointed by the APC leadership) emerged as the Senate President of the upper chamber to the utter dismay of his party leadership leading to so much bickering in the party hierarchy. That is not the real gist as it is no longer news.
The real gist here is that after a lot of conciliatory overtures from power brokers within and outside the party, APC has come to accept the election of the Saraki as the Senate President but vehemently kicked against the emergence of Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President.
They have gone ahead to call for his resignation threatening to impeach him if he fails to quit honourably. Championing this specious call is a group known as the Unity Forum—a factional group from the APC senators.
The group in a letter to the party leadership on the imperative of removing Ekweremadu argued that “although the tradition of the Nigerian Senate concedes much power to the Senate President, it is indeed the Deputy Senate President that directly interacts and controls the day-to-day activities of the Senate.”
They went ahead to list a lot of statutorily strategic functions ascribed to the office of the DSP warning that it is dangerous to concede such a sensitive post to the ‘opposition.’
On his part, the immediate past governor of Kano State and former Presidential aspirant of APC, Senator Musa Rabiu Kwakwanso urged Saraki to declare Ekweremadu’s seat vacant and return it to the APC—an action that will be clearly unconstitutional and unjustifiable.
He premised his call on the fact that in the 16 years that the PDP ruled the country, it at no time gave the opposition the benefit of having such a position as the DSP. Kwakwanso forgot in such a hurry that as some point in life of the National Assembly, a member of the opposition party emerged as the Speaker of the lower chamber (although by act of defection to the opposition party) and hell was not let loose.
He forgot so quickly that the constitution expressly states in Section 50(1) that there shall be (a) A President and Deputy of the Senate who shall be elected by the members of the House FROM AMONG THEMSELVES; (Emphasis mine).
The constitution never envisaged the election of these mentioned officers from any particular party (majority or minority). To be continued. • Ohiri is public affairs commentator in Lagos. 07052415807. • Editor’s Note: This piece had been processed before the impasse in the House of Representatives was resolved in line with the party preference.
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