May 15, 2023

Igbo youth group rejects APC zoning of Deputy Speaker to South-East

Igbo group rejects Deputy Speaker zoning to South-East

An Igbo youth group, the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has rejected the arrangement of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone the office of the Deputy Speaker to the South-East, adding that it is “an insult to the political sensibility of Ndigbo.”

The group said the House of Representatives Member, Benjamin Kalu, positioned to be the beneficiary of the arrangement emerged as a winner in “the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections mired in a lot of controversies.”

COSEYL made these known in a statement ‘We Reject The Micro-zoning Of Deputy Speaker Position To the South East By APC’ signed by the President General, Hon Goodluck Ibem and the Publicity Secretary, Okey Nwaoru, on Monday.

The statement read, “Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the apex socio-political youth group in the South East geopolitical zone is concerned over the latest charade by the All Progressives Congress, APC, which they named ‘zoning of National Assembly principal positions’ wherein they micro-zoned the office of the Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives to Rep Benjamin Kalu, as a position meant for the South East geopolitical zone. This charade by the APC is an insult to the political sensibility of Ndigbo and we reject it in its entirety, no matter those behind it, and will continue to reject it.

“The circumstances surrounding the emergence of Benjamin Kalu following the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections are still mired in a lot of controversies. There are still allegations in some quarters that the Labour Party candidate, Chief Iheanyi Frank Chinasa would have emerged but for the malfeasance of INEC officials in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State.

“To make the whole picture clearer, on the 25th of February, 2023, the Presidential and the National Assembly elections were conducted simultaneously. In Abia State, for example, Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, polled 327, 095 votes, whereas Ahmed Tinubu, the APC Presidential candidate got 8,914 votes, yet Benjamin Kalu the APC House of Reps candidate was controversially announced as the winner of Bende Federal Constituency with 10,020 votes while the Labour Party (LP) candidate scored 6,688 votes.

“Now the question begging for an answer is, how will the votes of the entire Bende Local Government Area for Reps be higher than the presidential votes from the other 16 local government areas of the state in elections – presidential and parliamentary – that were conducted concurrently nationwide? Does this not expose the fraudulent and criminal act of a supposed honourable member involved in a dishonourable act and behaviour? The political landscape of Nigeria has a known trajectory, especially in the South East, where voters vote massively for parties. How, COSEYL wonders, can a single local government outvote an entire state? This is the question Benjamin Kalu alone can answer.

“It is on record too that the APC hitherto had performed a poorly written script when it brought on board and sought to impose on the people an individual with fictitious identity and names which are: Benjamin Umunna, Benjamin Osisiogu and Benjamin Kalu to represent South East, just the same way the party rented fake bishops to represent the Christian Community in their clandestine move to give the appearance of inclusion to the notion of illegality characterised by Muslim-Muslim ticket which was roundly rejected by Nigerians. Ndigbo cannot be reduced to such a level!”

According to the group, Kalu, who is in the plan of the APC to be the Deputy Speaker betrayed both President-elect Bola Tinubu and the Senate Chip Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who gave him support to win the race into the 2019 House of Reps.

“Benjamin Kalu, it should be known, betrayed the APC Presidential Candidate Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the gubernatorial candidate of APC in Abia State Chief Ikechi Emenike which is evident in the votes the APC got in Bende LGA and also betrayed his political boss, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu who picked him and gave him all the necessary support and assistance to be elected into the federal House of Representatives in 2019.

It then said, “While the political goal and aspiration of Ndigbo are beyond the post of the senate president, we cannot identify with a character like Benjamin Kalu, not to talk of endorsing him to represent the political interest of the entire South East as a federal parliamentarian holding the post of the Deputy Speaker,” it said.

It continued, “For emphasis, the Igbo are a major ethnic group in Nigeria, also one of the tripodal arrangements upon which the nation itself stands – going by the “WaZoBia” scheme. We cannot be reduced to the background by the APC-led Federal government, no matter the scheming or agenda. The Igbo race, more than many other geopolitical zones in the nation, straddles one region (South East) and spans other regions too (South-South and North Central) with sons and daughters scattered all over the 36 states within the federation. Other regions, barring the South West, have complex ethnic makeups and minorities.

“In the North, whether east, west or central, there are the Fulani, the Hausa and usually other minorities all claiming each of the entire three zones as home. The South South itself is made up of the Ijaws, Ibibio, Anangs, Ogonis, and Itshekiri, just to mention but a few (of its constituent ethnic nationalities). How can a region like the South East, with its homogeneous makeup, be relegated when it came to sharing the spoils if not for the phobia APC has about the Igbo nation, which the party has continued to uphold through the Buhari calamitous presidency, and which may likely be repeated by a Bola Ahmed Tinubu presidency? What respect does the APC have or show towards its foundation members of South East extraction like Dr Ogbonnaya Ọnụ, who registered the APC as a political party, Rochas Anayo Okorocha and others?

“The post of Deputy Speaker is beneath the political aspiration of Ndigbo and we reject and shall continue to resist it. We call on well-meaning sons and daughters of Igboland to disregard the endorsement of Benjamin Kalu by one individual called Okwu Nnabuife who parades himself as the President of Ohanaeze Youth Council. Ohanaeze have made their position and stance known heretofore that they are solidly behind Mr Peter Obi, so any other statement emanating from any quarters that jeopardises Peter Obi’s chances of reclaiming his mandate is unacceptable and incongruous with the Igbo aspiration.

“Peter Obi, from our projections and findings, won the 2023 presidential election which is the number one office in the land. It is a shame, not only to INEC but to those the Commission declared and returned as winners, that the results currently uploading to the IRev show that INEC is not and can never be a reliable or neutral umpire. It is only a misfit, an outcast and a sellout that will throw away a mandate the entire nation gave his region just to accept the office of the Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives which is the 7th position in the country’s hierarchy of political power and offices. It reminds us of the saying by Achebe that only bastards point to their father’s house (obi) using the left finger. That deputy speakership post is a mess of pottage, an Infra dig.

“Having stated the above, we remain steadfast in the Peter Obi project and call on all political forces of the APC using phantom characters and phoney groups to factionalise the Labour Party in order to minimize Obi’s legal chances to desist from their hollow shenanigans. We assure them and those supporting them that victory is certain and sure as we call on all Igbo and other Nigerians to not give up on the Obi mandate until the court awards the final judgement. Nigeria is our nation, and nobody, whether individual or group, can relegate the Igbo to the background.

“To those who wish to feed from crumbs and mess of pottage Bourdilon or Abuja continues to serve while trading off their own region, your political days are numbered.”