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Enugu PDP chieftain jabs Ngige over Ekweremadu

The three tiers of government just shared over n400 billion oil revenue accruing to the federation account. It comes mainly from south-south and partly from south east. Why didn’t the apc government reject the revenue because the two zones did not vote for apc?

Hon. (Chief) Paul Anikwe, a PDP Chieftain in Enugu, was a ranking Member of the Enugu State House of Assembly for two consecutive terms, from 2003 to 2011. He is also the National Coordinator of the Enugu West People’s Forum, political pressure group. He spoke with newsmen on Senator Ekweremadu’s reemergence as the Deputy President of the Senate. Excerpts.

How did you receive the news of the reemergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as a Deputy President of the Senate?

Paul Anikwe
Paul Anikwe

It is democracy in action. It came from the blues, but he emerged a most democratic and transparent way and in accordance with the constitution. Even the APC Senator that ran against him embraced him warmly. It was jubilation all over Enugu. We were not just rejoicing that the South East had become part of the Federal Government against all odds.

We rejoiced because Ekweremadu will continue delivering democracy dividend to his senatorial district, Enugu State, and the South East. Until he became Senate President, the quest for an international airport in the South East was a matter of promise and fail. Today, we can fly in out of the country from Enugu.

But former Senator Chris Ngige said the position Ekweremadu holds is Ekweremadu’s personal share and a stolen good;

I read Ngige’s interview. It’s quite unfortunate. He stopped at nothing in his efforts to twist and misrepresent Senator Ekweremadu’s innocuous call on President Muhammadu Buhari to carry every part of the country along. We know why he is doing this. It is a desperate quest for the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Please, let him also steal that position to the South East. He will be celebrated too.

Were you at the said airport reception?

Of course, I was there to welcome our leader. At no time did Ekweremadu say that his emergence had taken the Igbo share in the constitution of the new Federal Government or that the APC should rather focus on the South-South alone.   I have the papers here let me read to you. Ekweremadu said: “My dear people, I would like to assure you that what we have is constitutional democracy. Nobody will deny us our rights.

We will stand to be counted and nobody in the country can put us aside. We believe we are part and parcel of this country, we believe what we got is within our rights. So, we expect that APC should be able to accommodate the people of Southeast, South-South as they form their government, because don’t forget that Buhari got about 15 million votes, we have more than 150 million Nigerians.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu
Senator Ike Ekweremadu

So, he is not the president of 15 million people, the rest of the people must be accommodated. In fact, that was why when we saw that it appeared that Southeast and South South were being marginalised in the scheme of things, we decided to take a shot so that our people will be part and parcel of government so that every part of Nigeria will have a sense of belonging”.

Even if you stand this comment on its head, one does not still see how it harms the Southeast interest or Ngige’s quest for the position of the SGF. He is just behaving like a gossip who did not venture anywhere near the village market square, yet claims to know all that transpired in the market. He just wanted to incite Ndigbo against Ekweremadu so he can lead them to APC.

By the way, what is wrong in Ekweremadu calling on President Buhari Administration to carry every part of the country, including the South-South, along as he formed his government? Ekweremadu is a statesman in his own right, a Deputy President of the Senate of all Nigerians. Besides, could he even have retained his office without the support of the South-south and the rest of Nigeria?

Don’t you think it is too early in the day to conclude that the South East is being shortchanged?

Senator Ekweremadu’s observation bothered on the inequitable distribution of substantive offices as opposed to appointive offices. Out of the first seven positions in the land, namely President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the South East would have been nowhere but for the stunt pulled by Ekweremadu and the PDP Senators and leaders. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is already from the North, likewise the Court of Appeal and Federal High Court.

Even the list of the remaining principal for the House of Representatives being forced down the throat of the House of Reps by the APC does not take the Southeast into account. APC Reps from our zone addressed the press on 24th June to say they were not even consulted let alone allocated anything. You don’t just exclude people like that.

Even though APC didn’t do well in the two zones, the PDP did not also garner the volume of votes it used to get from both zones. You don’t just judge a goalkeeper by the number of times he was scored, but also by the number of saves. Imposition and exclusion are the two major things causing fight in the chambers.

The three tiers of government just shared over N400 billion oil revenue accruing to the Federation Account. It comes mainly from South-South and partly from South East. Why didn’t the APC government reject the revenue because the two zones did not vote for APC? Besides, the APC is in breach of federal character principle in Section 14 (3) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended. Let me read it to you.

It provides that the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall, be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional group.

Are the APC stalwarts  from the South Eat not to blame?

(Cuts in) Exactly part of my point. Political sagacity demanded that Senator Ngige and the others from Southeast APC negotiate and secure at least a Deputy Speakership position for one of the two APC Members of the House of Representatives from Imo State.

But as you can see, not even a principal office was allocated. Yet these political Lilliputians prefer to run their mouths like broken taps, chasing after SGF and ministerial slots. These are appointive positions, subject to sack by the President at will.  So, it could have been total disaster if the PDP had not rescued something for the South East. Ngige should be grateful.

But Ngige has said the Deputy Senate President is not a useful office, that it is like a Deputy Governor, a spare tire or standby generator…

(Cuts in) The same man said Ekweremadu’s reemergence had endangered the APC in the South East because in his words, “PDP in the Southeast will have oxygen to breathe from because they now have the highest-ranking (Igbo) person in Nigeria”. Then he turns round to say it is a spare tyre and a useless position. But the Senate Senate Unity Forum, a splinter of APC Senators who still mistake the National Assembly of Nigeria for the National Assembly of the APC, did not even cover up Ngige’s ignorance.

Dr Chris Ngige
Dr Chris Ngige

Protesting the reemergence of Ekweremadu, they lamented the great influence the position of the Deputy President of the Senate commands and why it should not have gone to the opposition. They said although the tradition in the Nigerian Senate concedes much power to the Senate President, it is indeed the Deputy Senate President that directly interacts and controls the day to day activities of the Senate.

They said Ekweremadu would regularly preside over the plenary session of Senate especially during those times the Senate President may be away attending to other functions; that Ekweremdu automatically becomes Chairman of Constitution Review Committee, which conducts the exercise of carrying out fundamental changes in our Supreme Law; by legislative convention, the Deputy Senate President collects and supervises the final budget documents in the preparation of the Appropriation Bill.

They also said that the Deputy Senate President is statutorily the Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), the institution charged with the responsibility of building capacity for lawmakers and their supporting staff. The Deputy Senate President also represents the Nigerian Legislature at the ECOWAS Parliament as Speaker.

The good thing, though, is that Ekweremadu has repeatedly stressed the readiness of the opposition to help the Buhari administration to succeed. I recall what he told us after the presidential election. He said that everybody should support Buhari to succeed because he is President of all Nigeria, not APC and that if Buhari should fail, it is the ordinary man that would suffer.

So, you can see that he has a patriotic mindset and the PDP Senators do not need to entertain fears. In fact, if you look at events in the National Assembly since 1999, you would agree with me that you don’t need to be in the oppsotion party to make trouble with the executive. It is about the individual.

But Ngige seems to see the Office differently.

Ngige is self-condradictory and incoherent. Why then is he so peeved about an inconsequential office? How is a spare tyre going to make life miserable for the Southeast APC? In fact, I think Ngige’s problem is the SGF position. Moghalu is most likely going to take the ministerial slot for Anambra.

So, he is a sinking man- politically, except he gets the SGF. But the truth is that it is even the APC disregard for Southeast as shown in the distribution of substantive offices and the infighting amongst Southeast APC stalwarts for the position that are the real roadblock here. It is not Ekweremadu’s reemergence because APC did not give the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate to us. Two, it is also a different arm of government.

The PDP has gotten the position of Deputy President of Senate for the South East. The onus is squarely on Ngige/Southeast APC to secure the SGF position for Ndigbo. No excuses.

Do you see Ekweremadu lasting in office because Senator Ngige made allusion to many ways to kill a rat

Of course. He is one of the most experienced lawmakers in Nigeria today. Never mind Ngige who talked about killing a   rat manually, putting the rat in hot water or poisining it with Gamalin. It is good he told   us his mindset towards his only kinsman occupying a substantive office in the Federal Government.

Sadly, such rascally comments are what we get when men of easy political virtue who swear naked before shrines in their desperation for power are allowed to remain in political circulation. It can only happen in Nigeria.


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