Filed in Politics by on May 16, 2011

S’East govs, Ekwueme, others meet over zoning
Monday, 16 May 2011 00:00  From Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ado-Ekiti), Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)  News  –  National

THE issue of zoning of political offices in the next dispensation in the country featured prominently yesterday evening as governors of the South-East geo-political zone met in Enugu.

Although the governors refused to disclose in details their discussion in the meeting which also involved former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) South-East, Olisa Metu, it was gathered that they raised serious concern over the sharing formula in the party which has almost left the zone without juicy political positions.

It was further gathered that the inability of the meeting to issue a statement when it rose at about 6.05 p.m. was deliberate.

At the meeting were Governors Peter Obi (Anambra), Ikedi Ohakim (Imo), Sullivan Chime (Enugu) and Martin Elechi (Ebonyi). There was no explanation on the absence of Abia State Governor Theodore Orji.            .

But Obi, who spoke with reporters as he tried to make his way out of the venue, agreed that the meeting discussed the present contention by the various groups for political offices, stressing that the governors had decided not to make their intentions known but to continue further consultation on the matter.

He stated that the unity of the country and paramount interest of Ndigbo were at the focal point at the moment, stressing that whatever could make Igbo people put general interest against personal interest was more important, assuring that they (governors) would not compromise on the welfare and interest of the zone.

He added: “The meeting strictly is not that of the governors of the zone but includes other stakeholders in the zone. We had some persons invited to the meeting, which included Ekwueme and Metu. We have discussed a number of issues, which we believe we will keep confidential at the moment. But above all, we want to thank the South-East people for their support to President Goodluck Jonathan, which culminated to his victory in the last election. We have resolved to continue to support the President.         .

“On the issue of zoning, though it was discussed, we don’t feel it is the right time to let out our deliberation because we want to continue with consultations until we believe we have arrived at a concrete decision. However, what is paramount at the moment is that we want to continue to speak with one voice in the interest of our people.”

There were indications yesterday that some new senators across party line might take the Senate to court over the recent re-work of the Senate Standing Rule barring them from holding principal offices in the Upper Chamber.

Appearing on a programme tagged ‘Media Platform’, organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists Correspondents’ Chapel in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State at the weekend, a Senator-Elect from the state, Babafemi Ojudu, insisted that barring new senators from holding principal positions in the Senate was unconstitutional, which the first-time senators would be challenged in court before the inauguration of the new Senate.

Ojudu said: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria overrides any standing rule or order, so the action of the senators is selfish and cannot stand. Even, some of the PDP senators, I mean both the new and the old, will soon challenge the action that was meant to rail-road members into taking action that is against their wishes.

“The Constitution did not discriminate against Nigerians. I expected the senators to have resorted to persuasion rather than this arm-twisting tactic.”             .

Meanwhile, the global union of all Igbo organisations in the Diaspora, the Igbo World Assembly (IWA), has urged President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to reward the South-East commensurate to the support the zone gave the President and his party by way of massive votes in the April presidential polls.              .

In a statement by its President, Nwachukwu Anakwenze and Secretary-General, Oliver Nwankwor, the IWA insisted: “Now that Ndigbo have delivered without pre-conditions, the President and the PDP should give Igbo their fairest share in federal and national assignments within the PDP.”

Also, the Igbo Youth Alliance (IYA) has insisted that the South-East should produce the Senate President or Speaker of House of Representatives in the next dispensation.

In a statement by the Okey Nwokoye, Uwa Uzoma and Emeka Ikemefuna, National Chancellor, National Scribe and National Publicity Secretary of the group, the IYA argued that going by the percentage of votes the South-East delivered to the PDP, “any attempt either by sheer neglect or political mischief to sideline the zone from any of the executive positions in the polity may force us to have a rethink concerning our support to any geo-political zone in 2015.”

And, former Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Mohammed Ali Ndume, has alleged a systemic marginalisation of the North-East zone in the distribution of infrastructure and political offices at the federal level, insisting that the situation must change under the in-coming dispensation in the spirit of  “equity, justice and fair play.             .

Ndume made this submission in Maiduguri, Borno State, during an interactive session with the media on the zoning of political offices by the PDP.             .

Describing the Igbo’s demand as “a humble and commensurate reward” for the zone’s support for President Jonathan and the PDP, the IWA wondered why the Igbo, “the largest ethnic group resident in Nigeria and Africa with over 50 million people living in every local council area in Nigeria, have been told that they will not be the Number 1 (President) or Number 2 (Vice President) or Number 3 (Senate President) or Number 4 (Speaker of the House of Representatives). Even the chairmanship of the PDP has also been taken away from the South-East zone.”

The IWA queried the rationale behind the retention of the House of Representatives Speakership in the South-West despite the PDP poor showing in that zone, stressing that the “Igbo have earned their place in the PDP by delivering most of their federal legislators,” hence should be compensated in the next National Assembly with either the Senate President or the Speaker of the House.

It stated: “In the just-concluded elections, the Igbo/South-East delivered 90 per cent of the federal legislators under the PDP banner and was therefore surprised to hear that the South-West zone that produced the federal House Speaker in 2007 would also be allowed to re-produce it in 2011 even though the PDP performed abysmally in the National Assembly elections in the South-West by returning only five Reps members and one senator.”               .

According to IWA, it would amount to “the worst form of injustice” if the Igbo were excluded “from the PDP palatial table as national assignments are being shared.”

The IWA said it expected the PDP to have replaced its former Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, with another South easterner if PDP retained its old zoning formula and queried why the PDP national chairman position was taken away from the South-East to the North-West.

The IWA also rejected the calls in some quarters for an Igbo Vice President in 2015, asserting that in that year, “South-East zone must not settle for anything less than the Presidency because we have worked very hard.”

Ndume, a senator-elect, said: “The issue of zoning is primarily a party affair and I am new in it, I mean in PDP. But even at that, the North-East has always been short-changed, marginalised and sidelined in term of manpower development, recruitment and appointments in the Federal Civil Service. We have also been economically marginalised in the area of basic infrastructure provisions facility development as well as Education.”             .< Prev          Next >

Author of this article: From Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ado-Ekiti), Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)


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