Opinion: Why not South East for Senate presidency? By – OKON BASSEY


The 2019 presidential election has been won and lost. The next stage is to form a government and create the necessary support base that will help the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari to successfully deliver on expectations. ADVERTISING ADVERTISING Senate This stage calls for inclusion. Exclusion and non-appreciation of the Nigerian diversity stood firmly as some of the major faults of the Buhari administration between 2015 and 2019. However, the 2019-2023 windows present a new opportunity to galvanise all Nigerians towards progress for the sake of our country. What this calls for is deliberate effort to make sure all parts of Nigeria, especially, the geopolitical regions, are carried along in the task of nation building. For me, though a South-Southerner, I believe that this is time for us to see Nigeria from the prism of one nation rather than several nations.

This means we must find a place in our hearts to forgive those who had wronged us and ask them to also forgive us where we wronged them. That is the classical message in ‘Our Lord’s Prayer’ – forgive us our sins as we forgive those who offend us. Classic uniting move for the APC In this regard, I will appeal to the leadership of the APC and President Buhari to lead the charge in uniting Nigeria more than it ever did. Division would do the country more harm. In this regard, I believe that the APC should look towards the South East for chairmanship of the National Assembly. It will be a classic uniting move for the APC to offer the South East the position of the Senate President in the 9th Senate.

This call, as apt as it is, will help heal the wounds of division, which forced leadership of apex South East socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze, to pitch tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the last presidential election. I recall that the APC had ideologically ceded office of the Senate President in the 8th Senate to the South East. But arguments that the zone had no ranking senator within the ranks of the party, alongside betrayal of purpose by some ambitious APC members, robbed it of the opportunity.

However, the 9th Senate presents another opportunity for an all-inclusive government that would work to heal the wounds of division, which has left people of the South East bitter with APC. If we check the trend of voting in the South East, we will find that though PDP had a strong showing in the region, APC was also able to muster some level of support making it possible for President Buhari, and the party, to secure the constitutionally mandatory 25 per cent of votes in the region. This is a strategic win made possible by the doggedness of members of the party in the zone.

Therefore, to win more support of the zone, it is only politically correct that APC zones the Senate presidency to southeast. As it is now, there are ranking legislators from the zone who have had varied experience in governance and lawmaking. This, to my mind, is an advantage that APC must not miss. Like we say, we don’t make any progress when we throw the baby away with the bath water. At this time, we, as a political party, would have to throw away the bath water but keep the baby. That’s the most politically expedient thing to do.

That is the way to go, if we must create a new movement that will bring South East into the APC family and eventually bury the PDP. I have no doubt in my mind that people of the South East will realign with APC, as a political block, if we zone the Senate presidency to the zone and encourage any of its ranking senators to take the shot. It will be about political correctness which benefits will be unprecedented.

As it is, APC needs the South East to enable it become a pan-Nigerian movement that will birth a new nation. If we ignore this opportunity, we may still walk through to 2023 with a nation working into its destined future with an acrimonious polity. It may not augur well for all of us. We have seen how it worked out between 2015 and now. With the national tripod, a new political argument ought to develop that would make the tripod strategically positioned for nation building. With the North West and South West occupying the number one and number two spots, it is only logically correct that we create a new governance and leadership momentum for President Buhari by bringing the third leg of the tripod into the number three position.

The national tripod that had played out very well in the leadership of Nigeria, was not designed by man. To my mind, it was divine providence that made it so. Re-working it with man-made solutions that berths exclusion and alienation, will continually breed discontent and acrimony. Broad-based support of Nigerians Does President Buhari need such discontent and distractions? No, he doesn’t. All he needs now is broad-based support of Nigerians to enable him steer the ship of nationhood to desirable goals. This way, no region will be left out irrespective of their political inclinations. We must all remember that magnanimity in victory is the true worth of statesmanship. Alienation breeds discontent and leads to agitations which may, sometimes, be violent. Nigeria no longer needs that.

The 2015-2019 era saw too much crevices and discontent. Do we need more? No! we need that sort of peace, understanding and acceptance that comes from the appreciation of the contribution of every segment of the Nigerian federation. I have no doubt that President Buhari can put an end to the continued alienation of South East by being the statesman we all want him to be. This he can do using his powers as National Leader of APC to ensure that the southeast, the third leg of the tripod, is brought within leadership circles by making sure the President of the 9th Senate, is selected from the South East. APC is on the threshold to become the largest political movement in Nigeria. It will achieve this when its leadership and members agree to pull South East along not with coercion, but with love expressed through the number three office. Vanguard

Bassey, a lawyer, wrote in from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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