Reps Speakership: APC Should Not Ignore South South
As the All Progressive Congress (APC) meets to decide on how to share key leadership positions in the National Assembly, an advocacy group under the auspices of Coalition for Justice and Fairness (CJF) has warned the party on the dangers of excluding the South South geo-political zone from its zoning formula, specifically the Speakership of the House of Representatives.
With the incoming APC administration already having the president-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari from the North West and the vice president-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo from the South West, CJF has raised the alarm over reports of the APC zoning the National Assembly leadership to the North East and South West regions, by implication excluding the South South and South East geo-political regions.
In a statement signed by its convener, Muraina Ahmed, the group warned that the exclusion of the zones would negate the Federal character principle as enunciated in Section 14(3) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The statement read: “For the records, the APC as the majority party has the conventional privilege to zone the offices of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“The knotty issue that will test APC’s abhorrence of impunity, which was one of the major reasons Nigerians voted for the party, is the zoning of the listed leadership offices in the National Assembly.
“To be fair, there are extenuating circumstances that may hamper the even spread of Legislative Offices enumerated above to all the six zones in Nigeria. For instance, the South East has no APC senator at all and has not produced any ranking APC member of the House of Representatives. The South South has one Senator, who is a fresher and does not meet the ranking criterion. But the South South has four members-elect for the House of Representatives, two of whom are ranking, with one of them, Hon. Pally Iriase parading impeccable credentials and legislative leadership experience.
“This is a golden opportunity that the APC must not miss. In the spirit of fairness and adherence of Federal character, the position of Speaker, House of Representatives should be zoned to the South South geo-political zone.
“There are dangers in deliberately shutting out the South South from the Speakership of the House of Representatives for the following reasons:
“The South South lost the Presidency and if APC fails to be magnanimous in victory, but embarks on vendetta by denying the zone the opportunity to produce Speaker, the government may unwittingly start on a controversial way in the minds of discerning Nigerians. In national interest, Nigeria does not need a return of the Niger Delta militancy and agitation witnessed in years past, following brazen cases of marginalisation.
“Nigeria just witnessed a very divisive campaign and the scars need quick healing and if APC brazenly fails to use the opportunity presented by the Representatives from the South South to build bridges that may very well help to ultimately bring the South South and even South East into the fold, there will be negative perception with far reaching consequences.
“Flouting Section 14 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be viewed by many Nigerians as an act of impunity which APC promised to change and for which Nigerians gave the party the mandate to govern,” the group said.