The claim by some revisionists that the re-emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President would rob the South East the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF) slot is a fallacy of the first order. The intrigues visiting the appointment of the SGF have been public knowledge since the declaration of Muhammadu Buhari as President-elect nearly three months ago.
Fact is: While President Buhari is said to be well-disposed to appointing a South easterner as SGF, there are some reactionary interests who insist the office should reside in another part of the country. Such dark forces are determined to make nonsense of the President governance philosophy, which he proclaimed at his inaugurationI belong to every¬body and I belong to nobody.
The President at his inauguration had said: I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians. I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody. A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.
A dissection of that declaration clearly reveals a President who has put election and electioneering behind him and assumed his rightful status as the father of the nation who is ready to carry every¬body along. Buhari clearly understands that, given our legendary diversities, the President of Nigeria has a duty to ensure an equitable even representation and development. Yet, some people, who aim to become the new cabal, believe the President belongs to them and must do their bidding. One understands that it is not only the SGF that such people are after; they also want National Security Adviser, Chief of Staff, Head of Service, Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, etc. They believe that by holding all the command positions, that they would be certain they have the Presidency. But since 1999 and three Presidents interregnums, such offices are never concentrated in any one part of the country.
The warped argument of some who believe the South East should get nothing stems from what they describe as poor electoral fortune of the APC at the last Presidential poll in the East. Though the Party could not produce a Senator from the zone or so many votes for President Buhari, at least, it controls a State (Imo) and produced two Members of the House of Reps. So, it is yet another misleading notion to claim that the APC has no representation in the East at all, even though it does not compare to most other zones where the party considers home.
Since the South East has been tipped all along to produce the SGF, it still stands to reason the concession be retained and actualised. Once or twice, the name of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was published on the APC Situation Room site as having been appointed the SGF and once or twice it was pulled down presumably, due to pressure from such forces, which believe there is no reason to give the eastern zone such position. These same forces have latched on the re-emergence of Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President, to further argue that the South East has gotten enough.
This argument is incurably defective and fundamentally flawed on several grounds. One, the South East produced the SGF even when it held the position of DSP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives under the PDP government. Two, the position of Deputy Senate President is a representation in another arm of Government and does not in anyway make for representation in government, where executive decisions are taken and where the interest of the zones of the country ought to be protected.
Furthermore, the absence of South easterners in visible positions will further weaken the APC in the South East. Many who have toiled for the APC in the South East need something to show for it, lest their people conclude that there is nothing for them in the new ruling coalition. This last point is so fundamental if the APC hopes to make an inroad and have a good showing in the zone in the next round of elections.
It is equally important to point out that the re-emergence of Ekweremadu is not to be seen as a concession or offer from the APC; it was incidental and as such the South East has not gotten anything yet from the APC Government and the party shouldnt pretend that the zone has been settled.
It was a position given by senators of the Federal Republic to their fellow senator based on Section 50 of the Constitu¬tion. Contrary to this warped reasoning, the APC elements should rather thank God for the cool-headed and maturity of Ekweremadu, the fatherliness of Senator Mark, and the patriotism of PDP senators. Otherwise, in the circumstance that the leadership of the 8th Senate emerged, they could have taken both if they so wished. And the heavens wouldnt fall. As stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, the South East, along with the states of the five other zones, are expected to produce a minister each. Even this will not assuage the bad feelings to follow the failure of the zone to produce the SGF on account of re-emergence of Senator Ekweremadu.
Nigerians should urge the President to ignore such pressures, trying to narrow his vision to satisfy only some parts of the country. They need to allow Mr. President to live the talkI belong everyone and belong to no one. This is the only way the President can get the cooperation he needs to turn things around. To solve all the national problems identified by Mr. President, all parts of the country need to fully cooperate with the government. There should be no room for any section of the country to wait in the wing for government to either fail or succeed. Some of the problems as pinpointed by the President are: Depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts. Other daunting challenges are Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power and unemployment, especially among young people, to mention a few.
South East has often contributed top hands to governance in Nigeria who have made the needed difference and championed national amity and development. So, those who are angling for the sidetracking of the South East in the Buhari Government are working to deny the country and the administration the vibrancy, vitality and intuitive inputs the zone always makes available to governance in Nigeria. Our President should do what he believes to be right and move the country forward. Posterity awaits to judge him.
Law Mefor is an Abuja-based Forensic Psychologist and Journalist; email:firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel.: +234-803-787-2893