Random Reflections With Okafor: Ndigbo And APC Senate Presidency Of Mischief

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When you see a clear case of mischief, you would know; when one is being taunted politically, it is also easy to decode. It is  like honour and diamond, you cannot stand in their presence without feeling their aura. 
 
What more can describe the taunting, if not deriding, of ndigbo on amorphous lost of House of Representatives  Speaker and Senate President slots by APC members if not mischief and deliberate attempt to mock and provoke?
 
Barely 10 hours after Professor Attahiru Jega had declared Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari  the winner of March 28, 2015 presidential election, APC supporters went for the broke on conventional and social media insinuating that the shellacking of Senator Chris Ngige by amiable Honourable Uche Ekwunife at the polls means ndigbo had lost the chance of producing the next Senate President. 
 
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Their argument was that since South East did not elect any APC senator, that ndigbo are now out of national political equation. They also erroneously reported that APC did not clinch any House of Representatives seat in the South East but when the hard facts hit them, they made a quick u-turn prancing that the zone was speculated to produce the Senate President in APC led federal government which is now gone because Ngige would not be going back to the Senate. 
 
What is strange in all these is that no meeting of APC national caucus had ever been convoke to discuss power sharing formula under President-elect Buhari. So where did these guys get their permutation that South East, since it did not produce an APC senator, cannot even produce the speaker of House of Representatives? 
 
Even convention tells us that the North would produce the Senate President in Buhari's administration; it happened in 1999-2007 under President Olusegun Obasanjo and 2007-2010 under President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. The condition of pacification of the north that made David Mark Senate President in 2011 is not obtainable in the country now. So, there is no way the North will not produce the next Senate President. 
 
However, it is a truism that APC parade the most effective propaganda and political spinning machinery in Nigeria. It is also a fact that due to its Yoruba origin, it commands the sentiments and cover of the Lagos-Ibadan press but the fact is that propaganda against ndigbo would never give APC any footing in the South East for understandable historical and strategic reasons. Forget the fact that Governor Anayo Okorocha of Imo State belongs to APC, the party is not anywhere rooted in the South East. 
 
What can assuage South Easterners and make them start looking in the direction of APC is deliberate political consultation, negotiation and romanticism, not propaganda of exclusion as the party is presently flying. 
 
But do you exclude someone who is already excluded? The point is that the structure of Nigeria is grossly tilted against the South East. So, the zone knows what it means to be excluded and being excluded under Buhari presidency would not be a precedent because the zone had no representative in Yakubu Gowon's Supreme Military Council for 9 years.  Yet ndigbo were able to feed themselves, clothe, reproduce and even wedged a war they were clearly outnumbered and out gunned! 
 
Similarly, it is  disingenuous to urge that South East excluded itself from the centre by voting for PDP last month. The truth is that by participating in the presidential election, the zone had shown a clear sign that it wants to be included; the zone has done its bit, APC is now under liberty to do the rest if it wants. 
 
Furthermore, the fact is the the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 as amended did not expressly say that Senate President/Speaker must come from the party in majority; so APC has the chance to show how much it "loves" South East beyond semantics by doing the needful when the next National Aassembly is inaugurated in June. 
 
However, the fact is that four years ago, Bola Tinubu led Yoruba federal legislators to reject the speaker slot zoned to South West by PDP and the zone was not taunted like South East the way APC and its supporters are doing today. If anything, President Goodluck Jonathan led administration  ensured that South West got its due from the  federal government as the mid-term report of the outgoing PDP government shows. 
 
The mid-term report highlights that while  South East got only 74 billion (5.%),  North Central got 497 billion naira (35%), North West 296 billion naira (21%), South South 212 billion naira (15%) and North East 116 billion naira (8.2%), South West which has no first class office under President Jonathan was settled with 216 billion naira federal investment (15.1%)!
 
The South West geopolitical zone had been known to be the base of opposition politics in Nigeria. And from all available indices, the zone had never been maligned on the strength of its political leaning even though its political choices are laced with crass ethnocentric politics which is unhealthy for a federal state like Nigeria. 
 
Yet the zone had never been cheated or disadvantaged in the sharing of monthly statutory allocation, derivation, ministerial, ambassadorial and permanent secretary appointments, etc. In reality, it seems South West has negotiated the best deal from the federal government being in opposition. 
 
Given that ndigbo had produced 5 Senate presidents, one Deputy Senate President and one Deputy Speaker under this republic with no capital projects as the South West had gotten from the Jonathan administration, the importance of these offices are called to question. What is the importance of Senate President/Speaker beyond attending national meetings in Nigeria? 
 
But beyond that democracy thrives in strong and viable opposition; without opposition, democracy would become the tyranny of the majority. Thus, it would be interesting to have South East in the opposition because it would offer the zone the latitude to rediscover itself as well as show Nigeria what a viable opposition should be. 
 
The way I see it: if South East was able to face state sanctioned annihilation for 3 years but survived it, it has the capacity of bringing its midas touch on the way opposition politics is played in Nigeria. 
 
In addition, I see a gold mine in the offing for South East states; given that it is now in opposition, the zone would be deliberately courted by the federal government with projects while its governors would be on their toes because they will know that any iota of under-performance means to be sacked at the polls by APGA or APC candidates in 2019. 
 
At this juncture, a message needs to be sent to APC spin doctors and propagandists. And that message is this: South East is part and parcel of Nigeria; its people are Nigerians who have the constitutional prerogative to choose and vote any political party of their choice in elections. They did nothing undemocratic, criminal and anti-Nigeria by voting PDP in the 2015 presidential and National Assembly elections. 
 
Hence, their political choices must be respected by all Nigerians especially APC supporters. After all, South West which is now the launching pad of acidic attacks on South East once put all its "political eggs" in one basket and APC has rewarded it for that choice with a Vice President-elect. 
 
Beyond that experience has taught us that Senate President and Speaker slots are positions of "stomach infrastructure" which appeals not to ndigbo in reality. What appeals to South East is federal capital investment in the zone and restructuring of Nigeria on the recommendations of the just concluded Confab. 
 
So, anyone or political party that is truly concerned on the standing or condition of South East in Nigeria today should champion the cause which is its priorities: federal capital investment in terms of roads, dams, railways, standard hospitals, IPPs, seaports, schools, etc and restructuring of Nigeria, not Senate President and Speaker slots. 
 
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