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Senators accuse Yar’Adua of bias against South

By Emmanuel Aziken
ABUJA — RISING from a meeting yesterday, Senators from the Southern part of the country, under the umbrella of Southern Senators Forum (SSF) accused President Umaru Yar’Adua of discrimination against the South in his management of the nation’s affairs and condemned the resort to brute force in the resolution of the Niger Delta question.

The Senators also resolved to press for the full application of true federalism in the country in the on-going constitution review process in the National Assembly.
Condemning the use of heavy weapons against fellow Nigerians in the Niger Delta, the Senators warned that success in the military operation against the militants would remain a mirage until the regime of injustice against the region was redressed.

President Umaru Musa Yar’adua with Russian President, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev at the State House, Abuja on Wednesday.Photos—State House.
President Umaru Musa Yar’adua with Russian President, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev at the State House, Abuja on Wednesday.Photos—State House.

Yesterday’s meeting, which held at the National Assembly was presided over by Senator Patrick Osakwe (Accord Party, Delta North). He is also chairman of the Southern Senators Forum (SSF).

The Senators at the end of the meeting yesterday afternoon mandated its leadership to articulate the grievances of the region for further action in a communiqué that is expected to be issued to the public.

Yesterday’s meeting was upon simmering dissension in the polity over perceived marginalisation of the South in appointments and allocation of projects in the country by the Federal Government.

At the meeting yesterday, Senators particularly flayed what they described as the lopsided appointments made by the administration claiming that the South had been severely marginalised in the sharing of choice appointments by the present administration.

The fate of the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, was raised as an example of the administration’s marginalisation of the region.

“If Soludo were not a Southerner there is no doubt that he would have had a second term and that was one of the examples of the marginalisation raised,’’ one Senator told Vanguard on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter.

“We cannot continue with this kind of injustice and that was the tone of the meeting. In fact, justice and marginalisation were the main issues discussed at the meeting,’’ another Senator disclosed.

Besides, it was also resolved that the South should take a common position on the review of the constitution.

The Senators were also reported to have expressed reservation on the use of heavy weaponry in the military operations in the Niger Delta asserting that it was inappropriate to bomb fellow Nigerians indiscriminately.

Vanguard sources among the Southern Senators said that derivation, revenue allocation and creation of more states should be championed.

It was learnt that the Southern Senators would push for creation of an additional state in the South-East, the geopolitical zone with the least number of states in the federation.

“Why should one zone have seven states and another one have five states?’’ one Senator asked.

Several of the lawmakers contacted on the issue yesterday refused to speak on the issue as they claimed that there was an agreement that a communiqué on the meeting be issued by the chairman of the SSF.

However, Vanguard gathered that aside Senator Patrick Osakwwwe, Chairman of the Forum, others present at the meeting were Senators Ayogu Eze, Kola Bajomo, Nkechi Nworgu, Aloysius Etuk, Ume Ekaette, Femi Kila,  Bassey Ewah-Henshaw and Victor Ndoma-Egba.

Other were Senators Olorunnimbe Mamora, Hosea Ehinlanwo, Ganiyu Solomon, Nurudeen Muse, Simeon Oduyoye and others.


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