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After a stakeholder meeting to reflect on issues relating to the zoning of leadership positions of the 10th assembly, the Coalition of Arewa Civil Society Groups declared that zoning the Senate presidency to the South East geo-political zone was an answer to power exclusion and marginalisation.
Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna on Friday, the spokesperson of the Coalition, Muhammad Abbas, said they were worried that the clamour for Separation of Power was rooted in the perceived political power exclusion and that the zoning arrangement of the leadership of the 10th National Assembly released by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had allegedly failed to address this agitation from the South-East.
He said, ‘This formed the nucleus of our deliberations at the emergency meeting. We observed that for political stability and democratic consolidation, APC must take cognisance of the following: The South-East geo-political zone has two APC governors while the South-South has one APC Governor (Cross-River State).
‘It is pertinent to note also that from 1999 till date, the South-South geo-political zone has produced a Vice-president and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan and none from South-East.
‘Again South-South has produced two APC National Chairmen in the persons of Chief John Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole and none from South-East. On the strength of the above observations, it is incontrovertible the fact that South-East has not produced any top leader under APC at the Centre.
‘It is, therefore, our firm belief that the prevailing agitation for secession by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and end general insecurity in the South-East would naturally simmer down when the next Senate president comes from the zone. This is not only necessary but also politically expedient with its attendant security exegeses.
‘In order not to sacrifice party loyalty, commitment and dexterity to build the party, we unanimously endorse Senator Osita Izunaso for the office of the Senate President for the 10th Senate.
‘Senator Barr. Bonaventure Osita Izunaso, the Senator representing Orlu Senatorial District in Imo State is, by all standards, a seasoned legislator with more than 10 years of legislative experience both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. He has held various positions in the Senate including Senate Committee Chairman on Gas Resources and has served as a member of different Committees in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives.
‘His combined experience in the private and public sector, having served as an administrator, Board Chairman and Member of different Boards and Governing Councils across the country makes him the most eligible candidate for the job of a Senate president.
‘We dare say that with his training as a lawyer with an LLM, Senator Bonaventure Izunaso has the requested knowledge and academic capacity to superintend over the Red Chamber. It is clear that the distinguished Senator has taken time to prepare himself for this job and there is no excuse whatsoever to sidestep him. It will be a great oversight and injustice to overlook this qualified and competent Senator in favour of another Senator. The South-East must be carried along and compensated for the support they have given the APC in the past and present dispensation.
‘For the APC to have a stronghold in the South-East, it is imperative to dislodge the influence of Peter Obi and the movement. If nothing is done concretely to neutralise Mr. Peter Obi’s towering influence in the South-East, the APC can as well forget about having a stronghold in the region. The only thing that can reverse this looming danger is to elect Senator Osita Izunaso as the Senate President.
‘We must not neglect the population and demographic dividends of the South-East region in the political calculation of the ruling APC. The numerical strength of APC in the South-East is by far more than that of the South-South region with a wider spread across the federation.
‘Again, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbo man makes the region a fertile ground for economic development and independence for the entire country. Neglecting an important region like the South-East politically would have negative social and economic consequences.
‘In view of the above, we genuinely recommend Senator-elect, Sen. Izunaso to the 10th Senate for the office of the Senate President. We urge his party, APC and the other Senators-elect to consider him and support him.
‘In achieving this, we have also resolved to reach out to the 41 other Senators-elect of opposition parties for their support. We present an ideal personality, full of vigour on a set mandate, former legislator, and former Organising Secretary of the APC, as a credible and capable person to lead the 10th Senate.
‘We will also organise a Juma’at prayer at the Central Mosque, Abuja for Senator Izunaso on Friday after submitting our position/support paper at the APC secretariat. To all the Senators-elect, your support for him is your contribution to saving and consolidating our democracy.