By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
This is authoritative. If the South East eventually ends up with any meaningful position in the yet- to-be composed President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term government, it would probably be a direct result of former governor Orji Uzo Kalu’s threat to revolt against the All Progressives Congress, APC, on the floor of the Senate during the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly on June 10. Should the zone be denied the Deputy Presidency of the Senate, Kalu threatens to break ranks with his party.
Kalu, is a Senator-elect on the platform of the APC for Abia North. He, and the outgoing governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, won senatorial elections on the party’s platform in February. But Okorocha’s fate hangs in the balance as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is withholding his Certificate of Return on the ground that he procured his victory at gun point.
Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu’s return to the upper chamber is also uncertain as INEC is yet to conclude senatorial election in Okigwe (Imo North) senatorial district. If Okorocha and Uwajimogu later find themselves in the Senate, the South East APC will boast of only three Senators out of the 109 in the red chamber.
This Magazine has learnt that the national leadership of the party and the presidency were rattled and unsettled by the former Abia governor’s insistence that for equity, fairness and justice, he must be crowned the Deputy Senate President so as to give the South East a sense of belonging in the Buhari government. He reminded the President that he had, upon his victory in the February 23, 2019 presidential election, pledged to be fair to all sections of Nigeria in his second term.
Party insiders have confided in The Source that some power brokers in APC are not disposed to the South east occupying any important position in government on the account of the party’s poor showing in the region in the just concluded general elections.
The power brokers rue that of the six geo political zones in the country, only the South East is without an APC governor, a situation, they say, has attracted mockery to the APC.
APC top guns pushing for the total exclusion of the South east in the sharing of the spoils of war are, therefore, insisting that the zone’s “hatred” for the party should not be rewarded with plum political positions.
A section of the party, it was learnt, is piqued that inspite of APC’s pre- election strident efforts to conquer the South east, the geopolitical zone blatantly rejected it at the polls, stubbornly sticking to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The winner takes all postulation of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, insiders inform, is not merely on the basis of PDP’s minority status in the National Assembly, but an euphemism for total exclusion of the South east from important political positions as punishment for rubbishing the party at the polls.
The party had already, allegedly, bought wholesale, the scorch earth policy against the South East as advocated by its (APC) hardliners but was, however, rattled by what a source described as the sudden outburst of Kalu.”
Before the former governor threatened that he would go ahead to contest the Senate Presidency on the floor of the Senate if the Deputy Senate Presidency was not conceded to him, sources reveal that the party had penciled down either the South West or North Central for the position.
South West elements in the party were making strong arguments for the position, not minding that Femi Gbajabiamilia of the House of Representatives, have already been anointed for House Speaker.
One of the arguments advanced is that the zone merited the two plum National Assembly positions because the South West, according to them, was the vehicle through which the APC came to power, in the first place, in 2015.
Besides National Assembly top positions, it has also been learnt that the South East may not have been considered in the tentative sharing of other grade “A” political offices. For example, dependable sources say Boss Mustapha from North east state of Adamawa will most likely retain his position as SGF, ditto Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
However, following Kalu’s outburst on the injustice of excluding the South East from the emerging power calculus, the party is now reportedly having a rethink.
The source was informed that nobody in the APC reckoned that Kalu would come out smoking.” We were shocked. Nobody knew he would openly make a case for his people the way he did. We all thought that Kalu, an establishment person, will just play along. His pro- South-east stand is strongly worded and you can not ignore him, or the zone”, a party chieftain who pleaded anonymity said.
This magazine was told that the former governor’s opposition to the marginalization of the South east in the scheme of things, it was, that forced the National leadership of the APC to issue a statement to the effect that apart from the Senate Presidency which the party has ceded to the North East, and endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan for it, decision was yet to be taken about zoning of other positions.
Meanwhile, the Presidency and APC sources hint that in the absence of any other way to placate the South East, the party may grudgingly concede the position of Deputy Senate President to the region. But whether Kalu will benefit from such concession is not yet clear as some forces in the party are allegedly pressing necessary buttons to ensure that INEC’s eventual verdict on the stalemated Imo North senatorial election favours Senator Uwajimogu.