By Femi Odere –
Not wanting to be left out of what shape, color, texture, content, and context should dominate in the the10th National Assembly, perhaps in his capacity as a prominent political elite and a former principal officer of the National Assembly to boot, the former senator from Cross River State Mr. Victor Ndoma-Egba decided to weigh in on which of the country’s geopolitical region should produce the next Senate President during a television interview a few days ago. Without any equivocation, Sen. Ndoma-Egba pitched his tent with the Southeast region.
It was fair enough as the former senator have the inalienable right to not only endorse the region whence the next Senate President should be issued, but he can also suggest a particular senator-elect from the southeast that suits his fancy to become the next Senate President. He fell short of doing that, thanks for little mercies.
Hoisting the southeastern flag for the Number 3 position in the country’s democratic arrangement Senator Ndoma-Egba said, “But for the senate president, I am very clear in my mind that it should go to the south-east” as this “will ensure that the geographical zones were well represented.”
As if to reassure and convince himself further, Sen. Ndoma-Egba added that “from what we have heard so far, history, precedents, equity, and fairness are on the side of the south-east.” How so?
The senator’s predication of the Southeast geopolitical region to produce the next Senate President on “history, precedents, equity, and fairness” are paradoxically the same reasons why the Senate President cannot, and should not, come from the Southeast region.
The historical antecedent as a basis for the emergence of the Senate President advanced by Sen. Ndoma-Egba in the interview has been one of the tragedies of this political dispensation which has exacerbated the country’s fault lines, especially in the better-forgotten Obasanjo era that reeked of reckless impunity as it was also devoid of democratic ethos. It is a history that should not repeat itself otherwise it becomes a farce.
The country would do well to forget the unilateralism and despotic predilection that characterized the emergence of Senate Presidents under former president Olusegun Obasanjo which Mr. Ndoma-Egba is now trying to pass down to us as history. It should be resisted.
In the same vein, there’s absolutely nothing ennobling or to be proud of in a one-legged precedent that completely shut out the South-South geopolitical zone of the Senate Presidency since the beginning of this dispensation which the former senator now wants the Nigerian people to embrace. Again, these convoluted and hollow precedents should have a permanent place in the refuse dump.
It’s often said that he who comes into equity must come with clean hands. We make bold to say that it’s never in the character of the Southeast to embrace equity in matters of shared interests. After all, where was the equity when, in the last 24 years when the fourth republic began, at no time, not even for a day, did the South-South have the privilege of sitting on the Number 3 seat?
Whereas five senators from the Southeast extraction had been Senate Presidents including the Jonathan era when they also laid the claim that the former president is Igbo because his name is “Ebele” with whom they were well pleased. The Southeast should not feature in the equation for the next Senate President, lest they begin to feel that the exalted seat is their exclusive preserve.
If, according to Harold Dwight Lasswell, politics is all about who gets what, when, and how much, then the true meaning of fairness would be lost if the South-South is denied the privilege, once again, to produce the next Senate President based not on emotion, but the superlative votes they contributed to the victory of the president-elect and the APC party that dwarfed the votes from the southeast region a hundredfold.
Therefore, ceding the Senate President by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the South-South geopolitical region is not only the right thing to do but it would also be seen that the right was being done. Ndoma-Egba’s reasons for looking in the direction of the Southeast for the Senate President to emerge smacks of unreasonable reasoning.
*Femi Odere is the Convener, The Godswill Project