As the National Assembly lawmakers get set for their inauguration on Tuesday, the National President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), Shettima Yerima, has warned that politicians who are fond of dropping the name of President Muhammadu Buhari to have endorsed a particular candidate for the position of Deputy Senate President should henceforth desist from the act.
Yerima in a chat with Sunday Sun observed that “these APC chieftains are the ones creating a bad image for President Buhari that he does not like the Igbo”.
He said that reliable sources in the Presidency told him that Buhari only endorsed Ahmad Lawan for the Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila for the Speakership position, adding that the president was of the view that the other seven key positions shall be shared equally among the six political zones.
Yerima warned the APC that from the feeler he got from the senators who are going to constitute the 9th Assembly that “if they make the mistake to support Omo-Agege there may be a repeat of what happened in 2015 where the party despite being in the majority in the House lost out to the opposition party, the PDP”.
The activist said that the party has no reason whatsoever not to give something tangible to the Igbo this time around going by the party’s performance in the region at the last general elections.
He said that Kalu is eminently qualified for the position as he is a detribalized Nigerian with friends all over the country.
Yerima said that the former Abia State governor has what it takes to deepen the acceptance of the APC in Igbo land.
The Arewa Youths Consultative Forum leader noted that except Oshiomhole wants to destroy the APC, he should drop the candidacy of his kinsman, Senator Francis Alimikhena, and do what is right by allowing the Igbo a position since he himself (Oshiomhole) has a position for the South-south as party chairman.
Yerima, however, advised the ruling party to give Oshiomhole soft-landing by making him a minister before he destroys the party completely.
Already, Kalu in a Channels TV interview last week said that he is ready and fully prepared for the contest of the DSP position, saying that the president as Yerima noted only asked the NASS to support Lawan and Gbajabiamila as Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively while other positions would be evenly distributed among the six zones.
Also speaking in the same vein, the Catholic Parish Priest of St. Andrews Church, Umuoka in Udi, Enugu State, Rev. Fr. Dr. Evans Offor said that tomorrow (today) his church would organize a mass service for Kalu to intercede for him to triumph in Tuesday’s election at the Red Chambers.
The cleric said that he has watched Kalu over the years and found him to be credible and a detribalized Nigerian with great charisma.
Dr Offor noted that in the past Kalu is known to have brokered peace among some Nigerian leaders who had disagreements.
He pointed out that the contacts of Kalu, both in the political, social and religious circles, have remained unequalled as he is a known bridge builder.
He, therefore, urged the APC “to support this illustrious Igbo son in his ambition and elect him as the DSP,” saying that “the gesture will solidify the acceptance of the party in the Southeast zone.”
Already, Sunday Sun reliably gathered that the Catholic bishops who met in Abuja recently had advised the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to do what is right in the equitable sharing of principal offices in the NASS.
The bishops were said to have reminded Oshiomhole that as a Catholic, who takes the Holy Communion, he should remember his oath to be fair to all.
Since the Senate President has been zoned to the Northeast, and the Speakership to the Southwest, political commentators seem to be unanimous in their submissions that the Southeast in the spirit of equity and as a major ethnic group be allowed the Deputy Senate President position.
Nationalist and statesman, Chief Ralph Obiora who added his voice on the issue said that it would be a misnomer for the APC government and NASS leadership to disregard a great zone like the Southeast, saying that Kalu is a frontline politician with the needed credentials to handle the office of the DSP.
Obiora in a chat with Sunday Sun said that “it will be strange and a misnomer if the new Nigerian government, I mean the in-coming government will deem it fit to establish leadership in the government in which there seems to be a total absence of somebody from a major tribe comprising Nigeria, like the Igbo tribe.
“Not being part of the leadership of either the government proper or the legislature or the judiciary will be quite a development that is totally new in Nigeria.
“That in the euphoria of winner takes it all, it is not a good sign for nation-building. The argument that has been advanced by certain individuals that the voting did not show support for the APC is not a good one because the constituency we are talking about is Nigeria, not a section.
“And Orji Uzor Kalu has the credentials as a former governor, a frontline politician and winning under APC in a very unfriendly territory for the party, any party that understands the organic nature of a party as a growing organism must consider to put him in a position where he can at least go back to the constituency and tell the Southeast that look, there are prospects and future in the party.
“It requires the wisdom of well-thinking people not to become myopic in the winner takes it all theory. The Senate is a college of leaders and they should adopt the wise wisdom of leadership to make sure that it’s an inclusive government and that to say that a whole constituency of the Southeast to be totally not represented in the leadership of the Senate will not be good for the Senate”.
Also speaking, the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Uche Okwukwu, on behalf of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, appealed to the leadership of the APC to cede the Deputy Senate President position to the Igbo.
Okwukwu noted that the spirit of equity demanded that Ndigbo had the position since the Yoruba (Southwest), which already has Vice President would produce the Speaker, while the Hausa/Fulani will fill the positions of Senate President and Deputy Speaker.
The Ohanaeze scribe who decried the role played by a section of the body during the general election, however, said making former Abia State governor or any other person for that matter the Deputy Senate President, was in tandem with the spirit of equity, good conscience and national cohesion.
“Former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu wants to be Deputy Senate President; the court has given judgment to Rochas Okorocha, they can consider their weight of experience even if they’re coming to the Senate for the first term and say, for us to accommodate Ndigbo, they should allow one of them become the Deputy President of the Senate on the grounds of equity.
“Already, the Speaker is going to the Yoruba; the Hausa/Fulani will naturally have the Senate President and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives. So, they should cede the Deputy Senate President to Ndigbo.
“PDP did it for Godswill Akpabio when they made him Minority Leader, even though people may say that it’s not a significant position in terms of leadership.
“But it’s unfortunate that my dear friend; Chief Nnia Nwodo lacks the moral ground to ask the APC for any position; he can’t ask because he went for Atiku Abubakar. I can morally ask for a position for Ndigbo because I stood by the APC. So, I am saying that they should consider an Igbo man for the post of Deputy Senate President.
“Politics is all about coming to ask for something after work; that’s the truth. We’re appealing to them, but it’s important that Ndigbo should rally support for Buhari,” he said.
He, therefore, appealed to Ndigbo to stop playing ‘antagonistic politics’ as according to him; it had not done the Igbo nation any good.
“You can go to the battle field and win a war without even fighting a war. This issue of war every day is not so good. That’s my approach,” he said.
Also former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Roland Stephen Owie, has thrown his weight in support of Kalu for the position of Deputy Senate President.
According to him, “Senator Uzor Kalu has paid his dues and made unquantifiable sacrifices towards a better Nigeria, though we are yet to get there. Senator Kalu was a founding member of the PDP before he left the party as a result of what the Edos call “Ukpokpo Owa.”
“He lost virtually his entire life investments for daring to say the truth to OBJ, though OBJ was in prison, when Sen. Orji Kalu and patriotic Nigerians, including some of us formed PDP.
“I urge my colleagues in the Senate, across party line to vote for Orji Kalu as DSP. He will be a balancer in the affairs of the NASS and Nigeria, for an Edo parable says, ‘even in prostitution, there is seniority.’
“In addition, I wish to further appeal to my colleagues in both chambers to note that since the president and the vice president are from the Northwest and Southwest respectively, therefore none of the positions of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House Reps and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, should go the Northwest and Southwest again because where there is no justice, there can never be peace! Those four positions should go to the other four zones.”
A pro-President Muhammadu Buhari group in the Southeast zone, the Buhari Southeast Youth Movement (BUSEYM) has thrown their weight behind the deputy senate president agitation by the people of the zone and declared their support for Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, saying that his is indeed the consensus choice of the youths of the region.
In a communique jointly signed by the Director General and the acting National Secretary of the group, Nwabueze Onwuneme and Nene Jones respectively after the group’s general meeting in Enugu State and issued to newsmen, the group stated that after consulting and carrying along the opinions of diverse organisations and prominent youths of the region they came to the conclusion that the former Abia governor is the most qualified for the position.
They strongly believe that as a very detribalized Nigerian, Kalu’s candidature would greatly unite the diversity in the Senate while putting the interest of the country in the forefront.
The group, therefore, appealed to President Buhari, distinguished members of the incoming Senate and the APC to support the candidature of Kalu, stating that it would not just be in the interest of the Igbo alone, but for the sake of equity, justice and nation-building.
The group also congratulated the president on his electoral victory at the polls while urging him to just as he did in his first tenure work for the good of the ordinary Nigerians who reposed so much trust and confidence in him by re-electing him.