Ndigbo and NASS leadership tussle
ONE of my childhood friends, as well as my university mate, Engr. Chuka Esonini resident in Holland, called penultimate week to congratulate me personally as a staunch member of the civil society for the recent peaceful and successful political history recorded in the Nigerian polity.
‘Chukas’, as he’s fondly called, is a vibrant young man who strongly believes in appreciation. Those days on campus, precisely Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), both of us were into school activism.
He thought it wise to congratulate/salute my humble self because he was of the view that I and many others who are into this crusade contributed immensely towards the sensitization of the electorate and the citizenry at large on the need to accept the results of the said polls in good faith or in the spirit of sportsmanship.
In response, I told my old time buddy and fellow technologist unequivocally that the peaceful outcome of the presidential poll was owing to God’s timely intervention, and not by the making of any individual or statesman as being presumed or circulated in some quarters.
On the long run, after exchange of series of ideas and experiences, he saw reason with my perspective, thereby at a juncture, he willingly concurred. At the present, the country is looking forward to witnessing a totally different political transition and dispensation since her birth.
No doubt Friday, May 29, 2015 shall usher us into a dawn of a completely new era as far as Nigerian democracy is concerned. Of course, it is only a dummy that is yet to acknowledge the fact that as soon as Chief (Gen.) Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in or assumes duties, the next significant step would be the choice of the leadership of the National Assembly, as stipulated or mandated by the Nigerian constitution.
Please pardon my use of “Chief” rather than “General”. The attempt is to free Nigerians from biased mindset. On this note, I humbly suggest to the President-elect to urge the media and Nigerians in general to stop addressing him as a “General” since he is now a ‘converted’ democrat.
Sorry for the digression anyway. After May 29, Nigerians would be discussing the federal legislators that will lead the Senate as well as the Federal House of Representatives – the Senate President and the Speaker respectively.
As it stands, the Igbo or members of the South-Eastern geopolitical zone are of the view that the leadership of the apex legislature is their prerogative.
Let’s briefly go back to history. During Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration starting from 1999, the South-West having occupied the “number one” position in the country, and the North being in the position of Vice-Presidency, a South-Eastern legislator in the person of the late Senator Evan Enwerem was unanimously elected by the members of the Senate as the Senate President – to balance the equation.
Subsequently, the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua became the President of the Federal Republic in 2007, and the South-South had their share in the position of the Vice-Presidency, thereby making the North-Central to stand in as the Senate President in the person of Senator David Mark. And finally, as fate would have it, in 2011 the South-South in the person of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan emerged as the President and he is currently deputized by a Northerner.
At the commencement of the ongoing dispensation, ably led by Jonathan, the position of the Senate Presidency, by virtue, was due for either the South-West or South-East, but unfortunately as a result of some political mechanisms, the North still occupied the said position leaving the South-West empty-handed while the South-East got the position of the deputy leadership of the Senate.
Due to the anomaly, the leaders of the South-West region cried foul, claiming unfair treatment, a scenario that almost constituted a chaos. Let’s not delve into the details of what prompted the foul play. Though afterwards, the South-West appeared to have been compensated by having the privilege to serve in other high positions in hierarchy.
Meanwhile, we’re all aware that it won’t function exactly like an analgesic if it is an adulterated one. Going by the current look of things, it is obvious that for equity sake, it is the prerogative of the Igbo to occupy the position of the Senate Presidency as regards the incoming transition. But pathetically, there is a major political loophole that might make the South-East to lose the said leadership bid.
Considering the just concluded National Assembly election, it occurred that virtually all the positions of the National Assembly in the South-East were won by the opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Few of the contestants who emerged victorious under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are not legitimately qualified to lead any of the Chambers of the National Assembly.
The rules, or rather courtesy, demands that any lawmaker to be elected as either the Senate President or the Speaker must have served for at least a term in the Senate or the House of Representatives as the case may be. And by political tradition, it is far-fetched for a member of any opposition party to be at the helm of affairs in the National Assembly.
Therefore, having APC in the position of the Presidency, courtesy demands that in order to sustain a stable political system, APC ought to lead both the upper and lower chambers of the legislative arm.
However, to ensure that Ndigbo wouldn’t forfeit the anticipated position, there is only one way out, and it must be considered imperatively and seriously. The totality of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-East is expected, as a matter of urgency, to look beyond their respective individual interests and adopt someone or better still a trusted and eligible person among the incoming legislators in the opposition party – the PDP.
For this vision to be actualized, the persons involved must place the interest of Ndigbo ahead of their personal interest. To this end, the political leaders in South-East, under the auspices of Ohaneze Ndigbo, should rally round and discuss collectively as one united and indisputable family with the sole aim of adopting a worthy son of Igbo extraction that will represent the zone irrespective of his political affiliation.
Suffice it to say that this critical and sensitive circumstance can only be unraveled by embracing consensus. In other words, Ndigbo as a family, ought to reach a consensus now, or never. They shouldn’t allow mere sentiments to becloud their sense of logic. •Nwaozor, a public affairs analyst and rights activist, wrote via email@example.com