Although the prominent Civil Right Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has expressed confidence that the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has not conclusively ruled out accommodating Senators and House of Representatives ranking members in the hierarchy of the National Assembly, it has cautioned that doing so will offend section 42 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended. HURIWA maintained too that exclusive such a large group of citizens of Nigeria from the political hierarchy of the Nigerian State would amount to elevating apartheid as a national matrix.
HURIWA maintained that from the reading of the public press statement from the national hierarchy of APC, there is no where that the ruling party had drawn the curtain to a close against the South East in the hierarchies of both chambers of the National Assembly, even as HURIWA has however warned the APC and the President -elect, His Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu that exclusion of the South East is a violation of section 42 (1) of the constitution which provides that; “
42 (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a)be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions. (2)No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth”.
Citing a press statement endorsed by the ranking member of the ruling party Barr. Felix Morka National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) the party stated its position thus: “NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES ZONING FOR LEADERSHIP OF 10TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.”
Excerps from the signed copy of the media statement in the possession of HURIWA did not in anyway eliminate the South East from the hierarchies of both chambers of the National Assembly just as the statement went as follows: “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met today, Monday, May 8, 2023 to consider reports of consultations and meetings held with the President-Elect, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, other Party leaders and stakeholders on zoning arrangement for 10th National Assembly leadership positions.
“The NWC noted with respect the outcome of the meetings held between the President-Elect and the leadership of the NWC. The NWC called for further and better consultation with necessary stakeholders in order to assure the support of the aspirants to the National Assembly leadership positions and members of the Party nationwide.
“The zoning arrangement reported to the NWC is as follows:
SENATE: 1. Senate President – South South – Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-lbom).
- Deputy Senate President – North West – Senator Barau Jubrin (Kano).
Speaker, House of Representatives – North West – Hon. Abass Tajudeen (Kaduna)
Deputy Speaker – South East – Hon. Ben Kalu (Abia) We urge our party leader s, members and all Nigerians to continue to work for peace and progress of our country during and beyond the current period of leadership transition.”
The Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), which maintained that no final list of leaders of the National Assembly has been drawn up, also backed the Senator-Elect for Imo West Senatorial District, Osita Izunaso, and/ Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for the prestigious seat of the Senate President in the 10th National Assembly to be inaugurated in June.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said both Orji Kalu and Osita Izunaso who was once a Senator from June 2007 to June 2011 have the legislative experience, maturity and corresponding integrity to lead Nigeria’s red chamber as the nation’s number three citizen.
The group particularly affirmed that both Orji Uzor Kalu are qualified for the eminent position of the President of the Senate on their individual merits, competency and loyalty to All Progressives Congress further indicated that the choice of Osita Izunaso or Orji Uzor Kalu emerged after a meeting of 36 registered Non-Government Organisations at a meeting convoked last night in Abuja by HURIWA which remains a senior member of the NGOs coalition.
HURIWA said Orji Kalu and Osita Izunaso have the requisite integrity and have ethical merits for such distinguished and pristine office just as the group dismissed any attempt to exclude the South East as a declaration of war against Ndigbo.
The group also backed the National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (North-West), Salihu Lukman that for fairness, northern senators contesting the post should step down for a South-East Christian in the spirit of fairness, especially in view of the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket adopted by the party.
The APC won a majority of the legislative seats during the elections with over 55 Senate seats out of 109 and over 160 out of 360 House of Representatives seats. APC members who have indicated an interest in the Senate Presidency seat include Senators Jibrin Barau (Kano Central), Sani Musa (Niger East), and GodsWill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom North-West ), Osita Izunaso (Imo West), Peter Ndubueze (Imo North), Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara West), and Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), amongst others.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “We believe the Senate Presidency should be zoned to the South East. Our members, after thoroughly examining what should be the possible criterion for the position, have decided at last to oppose any move to nominate persons that are statesmen such as Osita Izunaso or Orji Uzor Kalu.
“In line with that agreement, we convoked a meeting of the Abuja civil rights community to freshly nominate who is best suited for the office of Senate President because as civil rights activists, we have zeroed in on South East for the position of President of the Sebate. We are left with just an option of pushing forward the names of Osita Izunaso and Orji Uzor Kalu finally as the most qualified Senators from South East without blemish who can bring integrity back to that office.
“Recall that Osita Izunaso has only just indicated interest in the office prompting our coalition to brainstorm on the most qualified Senator from South East without blemish for that position and eventually the majority of the CSOs in attendance by simple majority adopted he duo of Osita Izunaso and Orji Uzor Kalu for the Senator to elect one persons ampngst thr two most eminently qualified Senators for that ppsition of trust and loyalty to Nigeria.”