Senate Presidency not South-East’s birthright, APC chieftain replies Ndoma-Egba

…says South-South most deserving for equity, justice

Ben Peters, Abuja

Prince John Mayaki, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Edo State, has faulted the argument of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba that the leadership of the 10th Senate should be zoned to the South-East region based on historical precedent and the constitution’s recommendation for equity and justice in government composition.

Ndoma-Egba, a former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), made the claim in a recent media interview, citing the events that characterized the two-term tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo which saw a series of Senators from the South-East assume the leadership of the Senate.

According to him, this set a power-rotation precedent involving the ceding of the Senate Presidency to the South East region each time a president emerges from the South West. With Tinubu’s official swearing-in as the next president of the country in a matter of weeks, Ndoma-Egba urged elected members of the Senate to honor the precedent by backing a member from the South Eastern extraction to lead the assembly.

But Mayaki rejected the argument, describing it as a “narrow and restrictive interpretation of the past to, perhaps, suit a thinly-veiled agenda.”

He said, “Senator Ndoma-Egba’s position is invariably calling for a total erasure of the South-South region given that his argument suggests that only the South-East qualifies as the South on matters of zoning each time a president emerges from the South-Western region of the country. It is clearly an illogic that cannot withstand scrutiny and a claim at odds with the principles of equity, social justice, and fairness.”

“Precedents are not laws that must be followed at any cost. In fact, in several cases, it becomes important to break certain precedents in order to make progress. After all, the Muslim-Muslim nature of our victorious ticket, which added a fresh contour to the power-sharing negotiations, was itself a move that broke years of precedents and accepted political wisdom.”

“What Obasanjo chose to do, in his own wisdom, cannot become a model that every other president from the South-West must adopt as a guiding act. There is perhaps no thinner argument for a case than “because someone else did it”.”

He continued that, “Senator Ndoma-Egba is asking that we be held slaves to cherry-picked events of the past, whether he realizes this or not. His message urges that we neglect our gumption and shy away from analyzing each case on its merit. Instead, he simply wants us to look into the past and uncritically copy any example that appears similar.”

“What is really at issue here is whether or not zoning the Senate Presidency to a Christian member of the Senate from the South-South zone meets the constitutional and democratic requirements of equity, social justice, and fairness. And the answer is an emphatic yes. The region, in fact, has the special advantage of being the resource base of our nation. The oil that flows in the Niger Delta serves as the binding glue that keeps the country one and a valuable commodity that financed the development of the entire country in so many notable ways, despite wreaking environmental havoc in the host communities.”

“It is therefore inconceivable that the next government will be formed without the region given a seat befitting of its status when Senator Ndoma-Egba has revealed to us, through his analysis, that the South East region has repeatedly enjoyed the same privilege in the past.”

“Moreover, since the issue is as much a national balancing act as it is a political sharing of power and privileges post-election, the contribution of both regions in contention to the electoral success must be considered. Whilst the South-East Senators could only manage to deliver a negligible handful of votes to the president-elect, despite winning their own individual contests with several thousands of votes; the South-South region contributed handsomely to the victory, bucking historical trends and confronting entrenched forces of the opposition in the region.”

“There is no justifiable reason why the Senate Presidency should not go to the South-South region. Zoning it there satisfies the need for regional and faith balancing, while also rewarding the valiant contributions of a region that stood firm and delivered when it mattered the most,” he concluded.

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