Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Ekweremadu, APC’s Change Rhetoric and National Unity

9bhaoh5xThe All Nigeria People’s Congress, APC, came into power on the promise of change in both style and quality of governance for which it had consistently and trenchantly criticized the previous PDP administrations. Believing in its trumpeted change rhetoric, Nigerians generously gave it a chance to prove itself in governance. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so far disappointment has been the key word. Worse still the party is stewing in its own juice.

Thus while the Buhari/APC government is unarguably still in its infancy, an objective analysis of some of its domestic activities so far nevertheless tends to portray it as a party that is still stuck in the past and unable to deliver the change it had so ardently promised Nigerians even in the most basic of aspects of governance—constitution of leadership of the branches of government.

Nowhere is this more evident than the wholly contrived leadership crisis currently rocking the National Assembly in general and the Senate in particular. What is happening in the National Assembly, especially the Senate is a disgrace and national embarrassment, to say the least, and speaks to a lawless ruling party without honour, that is prepared to muscle and bulldoze its way through the National Assembly by acting ultra vires its constitutional/legal powers and competency.

For the avoidance of doubt, and to put matters in clear perspective for the Nigerian public, the Senate is a creation, not of any political party, but of the Constitution. And it is entirely an internal affairs of the Senate to constitute its leadership. It’s equally worthy of note that nothing in these provisions requires the leadership of the Senate to come from the victorious political party at the elections. There is, in fact, no legal or constitutional requirement for that. Thus the senate or the House of Representatives could be led by a member from the minority party, if he elected to that office by his colleagues without recourse to any external body whatsoever.

This arrangement, no doubt, is meant to ensure the independence and co-equal status of the three branches of government to-wit: the legislature, executive and the judiciary.

In accordance with these provisions the senate duly constituted its leadership as it deemed fit having regards to other weighty constitutional provisions mandating fair and equal representation of the geo-ethnic zones in the country on the principle of federal character, as provided under Section 14 (3), which states that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP minority party and veteran of the senate emerged deputy senate president representing the South/East geo-political zone. The Senate, with fully staffed, competent legal department does not need the presidency or the ruling party to dictate, lecture, let alone arm twist it on how to satisfy these constitutional requirements in constituting its leadership. Nigerian political parties are too overbearing, anti-democratic and meddlesome.

To be sure, concerning the Ekweremadu issue, APC is injecting itself into the internal affairs of the senate for purely political reason and seemingly so for wholly diabolical purpose of marginalizing the Igbos in the present scheme of things. It’s unconscionable and ungodly. The question is: does the South/East deserve representation in the senate leadership or not?

The revelation by Senator Joseph Waku of APC that EFCC is being used by APC to intimidate and pressure Senate President Bukola Saraki into ditching his deputy is, if true, highly disturbing. All of a sudden EFCC’s Lamorde is inviting Saraki’s wife for questioning. Is this meant to send a message to Saraki to play ball or else bad things might begin to happen to him? This is outrageous. Still, regrettably, APC leadership appears hell bent on nullifying the election of the deputy senate president, who happens to be the only high ranking public official representing the South/East in the entire National Assembly, if not the Buhari administration as a whole.

President Buhari doubled down on this retrogressive APC mindset when he let it slip out in a recent interview during his visit to the US that he would give preferential treatment to the sections of the country that voted him into power. He called it “fair”. Fair? No, it is not. It can only be fair to a narrow minded individual and partisan leader rather than a statesman, who does not understand the role and function of government. What is fair is equal representation in government, not victimization on the basis of political affiliation.

APC needs to be educated that the federal government is not the property of the political party in power at any given time. It represents the genuine and legitimate interests of all Nigerians and sections thereof, regardless of their political affiliations or ethnicity. It can be inferred therefore from Buhari’s confession and surrounding circumstances that the only reason this is happening is because the South/East did not vote massively for the APC in the last elections and so it’s payback time for the Igbos for daring to vote their conscience as if it is somehow a crime to have an alternative political choice in Nigeria.

This is indeed worrisome development in the polity that should be quickly nipped in the bud before it becomes standard operating procudre in Nigerian politics. No ethnicity deserves to suffer governmental neglect, marginalization or victimization on account of its political leaning. It’s primitive politicking that encourages and promotes such mindset and outcomes. A maturing democracy like Nigeria’s should transcend that and raise the bar of leadership. Unfortunately, it seems that the present APC is incapable of delivering on that promise.

Would Buhari or Tinubu tolerate this kind of victimization if the shoes were on the other feet? This should stand condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians, not just Ndigbo alone.

If this is the kind of change the APC had promised to bring about, the nation can do without it. However, as indicated in the above provisions, this is not APC or Buhari matter, but a constitutional matter bordering on fair and equal representation of the constituent units of the federation in order “to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty”APC has no choice but respect and obey the constitution. It’s the law! What else has the APC zoned to the entire South/East in the Buhari administration in the National Assembly? The answer is, nothing.

Ironically, and quite interestingly, too, the much despised PDP government under Obasanjo appointed individuals from other political parties into office, including notably, late Chief Bola Ige and Alhaji Mahmud Waziri respectively of then AD, and NPP, which is worthy of emulation by the APC. Thus, if APC is serious about chage, it should quickly retrace its steps, because it is rather too early to show its hands as a retrogressive political outfit masquerading as progressive party, that’s out to settle political scores rather than fulfill its mandate and lead by example rather than by vendetta.

Let Ekweremadu be for the sake of national unity, rule of law and good governance.
Source: African Herald Express

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