NASS 10th ASSEMBLY: I’ll Like Where Igbo Man Becomes Senate President For Two Tenures- HoR Member-elect, Aguocha *Highlights impacts of failed zoning on S’E

High Chief Obi Aguocha
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NASS 10th ASSEMBLY: I’ll Like Where Igbo Man Becomes Senate President For Two Tenures- HoR Member-elect, Aguocha
*Highlights impacts of failed zoning on S’E

By Charity Uwakwe

As the struggle for the leadership of 10th National Assembly subsists, the House of Assembly member-elelct for Ikwuano/Umuahia Member-elect, High Chief Obi Aguocha says it is his utmost desire to have a South Easterner emerge as the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Speaking on AIT Focus Nigeria, the Ogwumabiri 1 of Umuahia who is to represent the seat of capital of Abia state, admitted that the Igbo extraction had in the past, produced not fewer than five Senate Presidents within a sketch of eight years, argued that the Igbo man since 40years has never been a Senate President for a complete tenure as was the case of David Mark who had served for two tenures (8-years) as well as the incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Lawan who has been on the presiding seat for eight years.

He, therefore, called insisted that every zone of the Federation deserved to be in the presiding chair of the Executive branch, hence the country is an all inclusive, irrespective of ethnic, religion, whatsoever.

Moreso, the member-elect who had, during his campaigns, Abians the his Constituents of his relentless commitment to advocate for the betterment of their lots commended the APC party for their preferred choice of candidate for the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, the member representing Bende Federal Constituency.

Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu
Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu

Excerpts:

Q. Is this your first time to be in the House of Representatives?

A. It is my first time to be in the House of Representatives and I believe it will be a wonderful experience. And it will also enable me to come back again to serve my great people.

*There has been a lot of politicking the struggle for the leadership of the National Assembly; a lot of horse trading ongoing, very interesting •

A. Well, the most important thing for me is that as much as we’re also going to be engaged in the leadership selection of the 18th Assembly, you have a bunch of people now in the 10th Assembly who themselves are equally concerned cont about governance, about the direction the economy will go; what plans do we have as the 10th Assembly or the incoming Government on how to grow the economy, reduce unemployment, poverty? Like my Principal will always say: “move Nigeria from consumption to production”. So, those are most important issues while we also discuss the issues concerning the leadership of National Assembly.

Former Governor, Peter Obi of Anambra State.
Former Governor, Peter Obi of Anambra State.

Now, the leadership of the National Assembly recently or let me say, based on International best practices, all over the world in parliaments, typically those who make the majority are typically allowed to form the presiding officers though the constitution of Nigeria does not entail so. The constitution simply states that there shall be a Speaker of the whole House. So, it didn’t say that the Speaker can come from the Majority or the Minority. But, we, based on convention, we said well,
that the Majority should be able to put forth a speaker. The Colouration of the House now such that the Minority I mean, when you add PDP, Labour, NNPP, SDP and many others, if you combine our numbers, our members are in greater Majority than that of the Majority party. So, it’s going to be an interesting dynamics that will be playing out in the House of Representatives within the next few weeks.

Now, from what they have done, they have zoned and they’ve shown us preferred candidate. That is for APC. The only thing I do is, I commend APC for that zoning, because zoning, if you look at it in all practical sense, protects the rights of the Minorities.

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If we didn’t have the zoning, most likely the South-East which is where come from maybe equally marginalised. If we didn’t have Zoning maybe for instance, we now have for today, a president-elect who is a Muslim, a vice president-elect who is a Muslim, and then based on the increased political activities of assuming the leadership of the National Assembly by the people of North East, North Central and North West, one can come to a conclusion that if we don’t allow zoning take it’s course, another Muslim maybe the Senate President, another muslin is would be the Speaker of the House and that would go contrary to the Federal Character of Nigeria.

Nigeria is an all inclusive, albeit religion, tribe, gender everything. We are all inclusive, so every zone must have to have something. So in this wise, APC has decided that the South East will have a chair in the presiding table of the NASS. And we Commend and appreciate that as the Deputy Speaker.

Q. And some will say that the S/E deserves the Senate president

A. Well, if they give us the Senate president, we’ll also take, whichever they give us in this parliament, we’ll take.

Q. Is it what they give you or what you demand?

A. Well, like I told you, there are principles of equity, fairness and justice; we are demanding for Presidency from the Executive branch we believe that we should be President; we believe that there was an election held and my party won, my presidential candidate won, but as at today, with the election of laws, with the election of process, if the court determines the otherwise, if they say Peter Obi is going to be the President, Peter Obi is not just of the South East extraction, but he is of all Nigerians.

But we’re now talking about the stability and foundation of the parliament. In this wise, it is important that a South Easterner be given an opportunity in the presiding table and we now have for today, based APC’s zoning arrangement that Deputy Speaker position. Of course, I will like a situation where since 40 years, after Edwin Amezeke, there hasn’t been an Igbo man, I mean a South Easterner who has ever attempted or tested that position again, I mean Speakership.IMG 20230513 092701

High Chief Obi Aguocha
High Chief Obi Aguocha

Q. Do you know that the S/E has produced up to five senate Presidents?

A. We produced five Senate presidents in eight years, between 1999 and 2007 but I will also like to see a situation where we produce one Senate president, either for a tenure or two tenures like we had with David Mark for 8 years (Smiles…) from the North South. Like we have with Ahmed Lawan is there for four years but long time in the NASS.

Q. In other Media interviews, you appear to be comfortable with the preferred position taken by the APC.

A. Yes, because, like I said, I have to celebrate every single time we put a crack on the ceiling. Now, we have an opportunity to be a significant officer in the National Assembly. Like now, they have that preferred candidate, and there are other, candidates who are also interested, but the preferred candidate is somebody that is well known to me; he is from Abia state, my home state and he is somebody that I know that has the intellectual capacity; he has expression knowledge of how the parliament works.
He’s a man that you can trust; a man that I believe will bring extraordinary commitment not just to the parliament but for the project, Nigeria.

Q. Has Labour Party, which is part of the greater majority group taken a position?

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A. No. We’ve not taken a position. but we’ll take a position.

Q. But, you have taken a position…

A No. I have taken a position in the South East as it relates to the opportunity that has been given to us; as it relates to the person mentioned to be the preferred candidate of APC.

Q. And your position may go contrarily to the party’s position. It’s quite possible.

A. No. We’re now in the NASS; the parties have brought us to the National Assembly, we’re also going to work in the project called Nigeria and that means independence of thought, independence of knowledge and to be able to build bridges and ensure that we do the works that Nigerians have sent us to do. So, it’s no longer going to be about the party desires this or the party does not.

What do the people of the Federal republic of Nigeria desire? That is what we are going to put forth. And if you also look at it objectively, no body from the fourth East will say that he is not happy with the opportunity that is being given to us, the office of the Deputy Speaker. So, we celebrate that; I commend that. Now, go to the Speaker, there’re many of then who are running for Speaker. What is important for me is the integrity of the preferred candidate so far.

Q. The man named for the Deputy Speaker initially declared for Speakership and S’E is a critical component of Nigeria, so why will you go for the tail, why not go for the head?

A. just like I am a party man and I’m sure, many other parties, as they say, the party is supreme. Labour party were in the shoe right now and I am running for Speaker, assuming we had the Majority, and Labour party in their own wisdom now says, were going to zone the Speakership to the South West, as a party I will abide by the understanding of my party and give way for where my party desires the political position to go What we don’t want is in stability
in the NASS. In that we want is somebody that has integrity; somebody that has character, that has the efficiency; the knowledge of the Inner workings of the parliament; to now be able to head the parliament and have a synergy, not just with the Executive branch but also with the Judiciary but most important, the components of Nigeria, that is those who see themselves as Nigerians. So, the parliament in the 10th Assembly is gonna be a vibrant parliament. I’m very certain. The coloration alone, the experience and in fact the entire membership. It’s quite diverse. Now, look at my own great party, Peter Obi changes the narrative; all these changes that you’re seeing is simply because the man called Peter Obi came in to the scene, awoken the Nigerian people to the opportunities, gave them hope for a better Nigeria and that’s why you see in Labour party, our membership cuts across- we have some Northerners in the North West, North East, North Central, South West, and South East.

So, Labour party is not just a South East thing as we hear most people say. Now our colouration cuts across just like PDP, APC etc. But, going forward, we’re going to do a whole lot of people in the NASS, who themselves are committed to the project Nigeria. It is not going to be business as usual though we’re not going to be confrontational rather we’re going to work in synergy with whoever is in the Executive branch of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

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