…says five Southeastern states have produced Senate Presidents each
By Ime Silas
As race for the leadership of the soon-to-be constituted 10th National Assembly continues to gather momentum, Nigerians of South-South extraction have continued to demanded for the position of President of the Senate to be zoned to the oil-rich region. The recent of such calls was made today, Monday, 17th April, 2023 by a group called Coalition of South-South Agenda for United Nigeria, Justice and Equity at a Media Briefing held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Addressing the Media at De Castle Hotels, Uyo, Convener of the Coalition; Hon. Eseme Eyiboh who was flanked by stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), hinted that with the political arrangement which would take effect from May 29, 2023, coupled with past history of Senate Presidency in Nigeria, it would be politically expedient and equitable that a competent Senator from the South-South was elected as Senate President.
Hon Eyiboh said “National Assembly, by second week of June shall be electing their Principal Officers particularly, President of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. And, because that would take place, it is important that we take note of the fact that all the Senators-elect and House of Representatives Members-elect are all members of political parties”
While making a case for his political party, the APC to consider zoning the position to the South-South, Eyiboh, himself a former member of the House of Representatives continued “The All Progressives Congress has the majority in the National Assembly and since we have the majority, it behooves of us to also produce the Principal Officers like the President of the Senate, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip.
“So our Party, the APC that is known for good conduct, that the Nigerian people have imposed confidence on, would come together and decide where these positions would be zoned to. Zoning may not be constitutional. But zoning is a mechanism intended to redress perceived injustice.
It is therefore at the instance of that perceived injustice that the stakeholders are staying here to invite the attention of the Party and every Stakeholder across the country to appreciate the fact that since the party has at heart the issue of zoning, that the perceived injustice visited on a group of people, is going to be redressed at this instant.
I must also let everyone be aware that there has been a model that wherever the President goes, is where the Senate Presidency goes and the Deputy Speaker goes. Where the Vice President goes is where the Speaker and the Deputy Senate President would go. That model had been on, and it has never been disrupted. And today, we have taken the brunt of being an oil-producing zone in the South-South region.
“When Boko Haram were fighting and killing and threatening to destroy this country, it is the proceeds of oil that were used in buying arms to equip the military and other security agencies to stabilize this country and make sure that we all live in peace. It is the same South-South we know that has never benefited from what is called the ‘Priority list’ of the politics of this country.
Today, we have come together as a Coalition; our tongues and tribe may differ but we are united in one thing: for this demand that we want to put on the table. It is a demand, it is an appeal, it is an application, it is a request to the All Progressives Congress and every well-meaning Nigerian and the President-elect; His Excellency, Asiwaju Tinubu and Vice President-elect that what we want as the South-South is that the position of the Senate President should be zoned to the South-South”.
The Coalition also used the forum to allay the agitations of some Senators-elect from the Southeast, for the Senate Presidency position, insisting that all the five states of the Southeast have produced Senate Presidents each.
“It is also good to draw every Nigerian stakeholder to the fact that each time the Senate Presidency is zoned to the southern Nigeria, it is always micro-zoned to the southeast. The southeast have had uninterrupted five Senate Presidents.
His Excellency, Chief Adolphus Nwabara (Abia State), His Excellency, Evans Enwerem (Imo state), Sen. Chuba Okadigbo (Anambra), Sen. Ken Nnamani (Enugu), Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim (Ebonyi). All the five states of the Southeast have produced Senate Presidents. So now, it is the turn of the South-South”.
The Coalition also maintained that by capacity and past record, Sen. Akpabio had all that are required to man the leadership of the next National Assembly.
“Coming down to South-South, we have a man who has been tested and trusted. His name is His Excellency, Sen. Godswill Akpabio. He has been a former Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. He has been a Governor of Akwa Ibom state, a tenure during which he brought about uncommon transformation. He was massively elected afterwards to represent the Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District at the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.
“He was unanimously elected as the Minority Leader in the Senate. After his first tenure in the Senate, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari found him fit for appointment as Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. He went to that ministry with his wand of development. He also initiated the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which before then, was engrossed in humongous corruption.
“Going forward, Nigeria needs strong institutions to bring about the needed development. The Senate also needs a ranking Senator to emerge as President of the Senate. Therefore that man is His Excellency, Sen. Godswill Obot Akpabio. Just like the President-elect; His Excellency, Asiwaju Tinubu, Sen. Godswill Akpabio believes in human capacity development. He is a detribalized Nigerian just like the President-elect. With Akpabio as Chairman of the National Assembly, there’s going to be a synergy with the Executive for the common good of all Nigerians”.