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A coalition of civil society organisations, has called on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to consider zoning the speakership of the 10th House of Representatives to the southeastern geopolitical zone of the country in the interest of fairness and equity.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday in a press statement which was monitored by The Eastern Updates, National Covener, and leader of the group under the aegis of Civil Society for Good Governance, Chief Dominic Ogakwu also cited some qualities of the current spokesman of the House, Benjamin Kalu, which stood him out as the best aspirant, should the zoning demand be heeded.
‘At present, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is on the cusp of history to demonstrate that equity, inclusivity and justice are the principles on which the party is built as it reaches a decision on zoning of key officers for the 10th National Assembly, especially for the House of Representatives.
‘As members of civil society, we hold the view without equivocation that equity and fairness demand that the South East should produce the next Speaker of the House of Representatives’, he stated.
The group said it was calling on the APC as the majority party in the National Assembly to zone the Office of Speaker of the House of Reps to the South East not just to reflect federal character and support a balanced power-sharing formula in the country, but because the South East Zone has the potential and capacity for the Office.
‘There is a sense of alienation and marginalization amongst the people of the Zone by the APC, which though we do not share, but agree a legitimate concern. As a country that just emerged from an electoral process that is benighted by divisive tendencies, history beckons on the ruling party to demonstrate that is inclusive, equitable, and responsive to all parts of the country, particularly the South East.
‘As a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious country, it is urgent and imperative that the APC promotes the tenets of Federal Character by zoning the Speakership to the South East and strengthening the cords of unity and peaceful co-existence amongst our peoples.
‘Records indicate that since the return of democratic rule in 1999, the Southeast geopolitical zone is the only zone yet to have the opportunity to produce a speaker of the House of Representatives. The nearest the zone has come is Deputy Speaker between 2011 and 2015.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, from 1999 to 2007, the position of Speaker was zoned to the North West with Rt. Hons. Salisu Buhari, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Aminu Bello Masari as Speakers. Also, from 2007 to 2011, the South West produced Rt. Hon. Patricia Etteh and Dimeji Bankole presiding; and the North West taking another chance between 2011 and 2015, with Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Speaker and Emeka Ihedioha as Deputy. In 2015, the North East produced Yakubu Dogara as Speaker. By 2019, it returned to the South West again with the current speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
‘As we stated earlier, our clamour for the Speakership from the South East is not premised on equity and inclusion alone, but because there is capacity, ability and widespread consensus that Hon. Benjamin Kalu, is suited for the job’, the group posited.