"They Miscalculate": Yerima Reveals Reason Behind Alleged Marginalisation of Southeast as APC Snubs Region

"They Miscalculate": Yerima Reveals Reason Behind Alleged Marginalisation of Southeast as APC Snubs Region

  • The alleged marginalisation of the southeast by the current government in Nigeria is a major issue at the centre of political debates, as it is believed that the region is being deliberately sidelined
  • Southeast politicians have continued to raise concerns over the issue, and groups such as the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) have called for more equity and justice in leadership positions
  • However, the Arewa Youths President, Shettima Yerima, blamed the southeast for their voting patterns, saying that they always make the same mistakes that cost them opportunities

One major issue at the centre of political debates in Nigeria is the alleged marginalization of the southeast by the current All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government.

A controversial statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari had instigated the allegation.

Tinubu in southeast/Southeast Marginalised/National Assembly Leadership
APC has again snubbed the southeast as it zones leadership positions in the National Assembly. Photo credit: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Source: Facebook
"The constituents, for example, that gave me 97 per cent [of the vote] cannot, in all honesty, be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me five per cent,” the president had said.

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The southeast contributed the least to the votes that brought Buhari in. Thus, many Igbos and other notable Nigerians believe that the region is being deliberately marginalised by the current government.

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Several political actors from the zone have continued to cry out over the alleged marginalization of the region.

Ekweremadu, Abaribe, other stakeholders lament

In 2016, a former Deputy Senate President and now a prisoner in the United Kingdom, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, led a delegation to the president in Aso Rock, pointing out that the Igbos were marginalized by his government. The meeting was held behind closed doors.

After the meeting, the chairman of the Southeast Caucus, Eyinnaya Abaribe told State House correspondents that the region “is far much short-changed at this time than other zones.”

While describing their deliberations with the president as fruitful, Abaribe said Buhari assured them that he would look into all the issues raised.

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Despite the meeting, majority of southeast stakeholders believe there was no significant change regarding the president's deposition on the matter. They believe that to date, the Buhari government, to a large extent, sidelined the southeast.

Is southeast losing out in Tinubu's incoming government?

It appears the incoming Bola Tinubu-government is walking on the same path the Buhari government took.

Traditionally, leadership positions in government are meant to be distributed across geopolitical zones. Currently, the outgoing president is from the northwest, while the outgoing vice president is from the southwest. Similarly, Senate President Ahmad Lawan is from Yobe state (Northeast), while Deputy Senate President Ovie-Omo Agege is from the South-South.

Femi Gbajabiamila heads the 9th House of Representatives as the Speaker, while Idris Wase from Jos (North Central) is the deputy speaker. Legit.ng observes that the southeast was completely left out of all leadership positions in the National Assembly.

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Many analysts feel this is the right time to address the issue of marginalization in the zone.

HURIWA, Southeast Senate caucus clamour for equity

According to Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), in a statement he signed on behalf of the group, anyone contesting for the Senate president's position but not from the southeast should step down in the name of justice and equity.

HURIWA said leaving out the southeast from the leadership of the National Assembly is an apartheid policy that should be avoided.

The group 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."

Similarly, some southeast caucus in the Senate has sent a powerful message to the president-elect, Tinubu, warning him against zoning the Senate president's position to the south-south. The caucus led by Senator Ifeanyi Uba charged the president-elect to be sensitive to the times in Nigeria by walking on the path of equity, unity and fairness.

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Uba, who read the communique, said it's only Tinubu's government that can correct the imbalance and marginalization of the southeast by the outgoing government.

They consequently rejected Senator Godswill Akpabio as recommended by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

Southeast voting pattern puts zone at a disadvantage

Meanwhile, the voting pattern from the southeast, where the Labour Party got block votes in the just concluded presidential election, has put them at a serious disadvantage.

Going by the current arrangement of the APC, the zone will only have the opportunity to deputize the incoming Speaker of the House of Reps. It means the zone has not only lost out in the presidency but also in the lawmaking arm of the government.

Yerima blames southeast for exclusion

Speaking exclusively to Legit.ng on the contentious issue, the Arewa Youths President, Shettima Yerima, blamed the southeast for always miscalculating and taking the left turn only to return to blackmail Nigeria over justice and equity.

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While Yerima agreed that the zone should be given the opportunity in government in order to form a government of national unity, he said they are always used to making the same mistakes that cost them the same opportunity in 2015 and 2019.

He said:

"Often time, because they miscalculate their games, they end up saying they are being marginalized, and they begin to use emotional blackmails against Nigerians.
"You cannot play the card you played in 2015, played the same card in 2019, played the same card again in 2023, and you want to see a different result.
"It's not done that way. In as much as I'm an advocate of justice, I think the southeast needs to encourage people like us to speak out in favour of equity. They make the job difficult for us based on their voting patterns."

Meanwhile, as the controversy over the leadership of the National Assembly continues, it's yet to be seen if the APC will stick with their decision or review it in line with the growing agitations.

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Already, the National Working Committee (NWC) has endorsed former Akwa Ibom state governor, Godswill Akpabio for the position of Senate President.

But there are threats by the opposition political parties in the National Assembly to hijack the leadership.

Observers believe with the current situation, the opposition parties will be able to carry out the threat successfully.

Senate presidency: Orji Kalu makes tough move as APC officially zones position

Meanwhile, Senator Orji Kalu, the Senate chief whip, has officially written to the APC National Working Committee (NWC) and the 108 senators-elect, indicating his interest in becoming the next Senate president.

Kalu disclosed his interest in a statement signed by the media wing of the office of the chief whip to the Senate in Abuja on Monday, May 8,

However, the Abia-born politician denied the report that the senators-elect from the southeast had endorsed him.

Source: Legit.ng

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Nurudeen Lawal (Head of Politics and Current Affairs Desk) Nurudeen Lawal is an AFP-certified journalist with a wealth of experience spanning over 8 years. He received his B/Arts degree in Literature-in-English from OAU. Lawal is the Head of the Politics/CA Desk at Legit.ng, where he applies his expertise to provide incisive coverage of events. He was named the Political Desk Head of the Year (Nigeria Media Nite-Out Award 2023). He is also a certified fact-checker (Dubawa fellowship, 2020). Contact him at lawal.nurudeen@corp.legit.ng or +2347057737768.

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Adoyi Ali Ali Adoyi is a prolific writer and a graduate of the Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State. Adoyi holds a B.A Theatre and Communications Arts. He has bagged many awards both in academics and in journalism. Some of the awards are 10 years Journalism Merit Award, Best graduating student (Dept) Most Outstanding student (Faculty), and others. Adoyi can be reached here: adoyi.ali@corp.legit.ng

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