Wednesday, 4th October 2023

S’South, S’East set to clash over Senate presidency

By Seye Olumide
12 April 2023   |   5:51 am
A chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), John Mayaki, has faulted Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba for recommending the South-East for Senate President seat.

Nigerian Senate

Political stakeholders from South-South and South-East regions are set to disagree over presidency of the 10th Senate.

A chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), John Mayaki, has faulted Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba for recommending the South-East for Senate President seat.

Harping on equity and justice, the former Chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in a recent interview, had chronicled events during ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo administration that saw South-East producing several Senate Presidents within eight years.

He alluded that under the Obasanjo government, an unwritten power-sharing formula was set, wherein the Senate presidency should go the South East once the South West produces Nigeria’s President.

With Bola Tinubu’s impending inauguration, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, therefore, urged the lawmakers to honour the precedent by backing someone from the zone to lead the upper legislative chamber.

But Mayaki rejected the argument, describing it as a “narrow and restrictive interpretation of the past to, perhaps, suit a thinly-veiled agenda.”

He continued: “Senator Ndoma-Egba’s position is invariably calling for a total erasure of the South-South region, given that his argument suggests that only the South-East qualifies as the South on matters of zoning each time a President emerges from the South-Western region of the country. It is clearly an illogic that cannot withstand scrutiny and a claim at odds with the principles of equity, social justice and fairness. He seems to forget that the South-East has had eight years of Senate presidency and 12 years of Deputy Senate presidency.

“Precedents are not laws that must be followed at any cost. In fact, in several cases, it becomes important to break certain precedents to make progress. After all, the Muslim-Muslim nature of our victorious ticket, which added a fresh contour to the power-sharing negotiations, was itself a move that broke years of precedents and accepted political wisdom.”

Mayaki observed: “What Obasanjo chose to do, in his own wisdom, cannot become a model that every other President from the South-West must adopt as a guiding act. There is perhaps no thinner argument for a case than ‘because someone else did it.’

“Senator Ndoma-Egba is asking that we be held slaves to cherry-picked events of the past, whether he realises this or not. His message urges that we neglect our gumption and shy away from analysing each case on its merit. Instead, he simply wants us to look into the past and uncritically copy any example that appears similar.

“What is really at issue here is whether or not zoning the Senate presidency to a Christian member of the Senate from the South-South zone meets the constitutional and democratic requirements of equity, social justice and fairness. And the answer is an emphatic yes. The region, in fact, has the special advantage of being the resource base of our nation. The oil that flows in the Niger Delta serves as the binding glue that keeps the country one and a valuable commodity that finances the development of the entire country in so many notable ways, despite wreaking environmental havoc on the host communities.”

The APC chieftain added: “It is, therefore, inconceivable that the next government will be formed without the region given a seat befitting of its status when Senator Ndoma-Egba has revealed to us, through his analysis, that the South-East region has repeatedly enjoyed the same privilege in the past.

“Moreover, since the issue is as much a national balancing act as it is a political sharing of power and privileges post-election, the contribution of both regions in contention to the electoral success must be considered. While the South-East senators could only manage to deliver a negligible handful of votes to the President-elect, despite winning their own individual contests with several thousands of votes, the South-South region contributed handsomely to the victory, bucking historical trends and confronting entrenched forces of the opposition in the region.

“There is no justifiable reason why the Senate Presidency should not go to the South-South region. Zoning it there satisfies the need for regional and faith balancing, while also rewarding the valiant contributions of a region that stood firm and delivered when it mattered the most.”