Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Tuesday, came under the hammer of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for asking the Igbos to join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) if they want the next president to emerge from the South East.
Ngige, who is a member of the APC, had made the call on Sunday while addressing members of the party at Alor in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The minister had said contrary to notions that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had marginalized the South East, Igbos have benefited from the present government.
Ngige warned that failure to join the APC would cost politicians from the region the presidency in 2023.
But responding through its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, Ohanaeze Ndigbo carpeted the minister for the comments credited to him.
Achi-Okpaga described Ngige’s remark as “childish” “pedestrian”.
He asked, “Is Ngige from Ghana? Is he not an Igbo man? The APC got all the percentages of votes they needed from the South-East in the February 2019 presidential election. Was it a fluke or doctored? Were the votes not Igbo votes? So if he is saying Igbo should join the APC, is he saying that there are no Igbo in the APC, including himself?”
Achi-Okpaga said, “I think his statement is very pedestrian. It is just that when you want to kill a dog, you want to find a fault to hang it. Just to find a fault to say that the Igbo are this or that. Let me tell you, until an Igbo man becomes President nothing will move forward. Nigeria will continue to be a motionless engine.
“We have said the Igboman sees the entire world as his village. So if an Igbo man becomes president of Nigeria, there is no state, there is no village in Nigeria that you cannot find an Igbo man. So he has no time to marginalise anyone. The Igbo man lives in Sokoto, so the government will like to build roads in Sokoto because his brother lives there. The Igbo man lives in Kafachan. The Igbo live in Ogun. They live in Cross River. They live in all parts of Nigeria.
“The whole of Nigeria is the horizon of Igbo man. There’s no ethnicity in Igbo man. It is only the Igbo that practise one Nigeria, every other person is a hypocrite. So until Igbo man becomes president, Nigeria will keep running round the same circle. What Ngige said was just childish.”
2023: Presidency Should Return To South — El-Rufai
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has insisted that the North has no justification to remain in power after the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure.
El-Rufai maintained that the Presidency should rightly return to the Southern part of Nigeria.
He said though the constitution of the All Progressives Congress, APC, does not make provision for rotation but in the interest of justice, equity and fair play, Presidency should go to other regions of the country.
The Kaduna governor said: “The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the Presidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it.
“In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside. What could this be?
“President Yar’Adua died in office and it was compulsory for Jonathan to continue but when 2011 election came, there were many people who insisted that Jonathan should step aside for a northerner to complete the tenure of Yar’Adua but I opposed it because I didn’t think it was proper for an incumbent that got there not by his own design should be stopped from contesting when the constitution has not barred him from running.
“In the APC, we deliberately omitted rotational Presidency in our constitution and the emergence of a presidential candidate does not take into account zoning and that was why in 2015, Rochas Okorocha from the East contested, Sam Nda-Isaiah contested, Buhari, Kwankwaso and others contested.”
El-Rufai a chieftain of APC, added that presidential candidates are chosen on the basis of merit and general acceptance.
“I can say that as distinct from the PDP, APC has no rotational Presidency but candidates are selected strictly on the basis of political merit and the general acceptability of the candidate.
“I want to say that those of us from Northern Nigeria honour agreements. We do not violate unwritten political agreements and I will be the last person to lead in violating that agreement. I may have a personal view but that should be the basis. I don’t care where you come from but I look for merit.
“But as a group, the Northern APC will have to sit down and endorse someone, most likely someone from the South, because after eight years of Buhari, I don’t think the Presidency should remain in the north unless there is some extenuating circumstances. But all things being equal, we will honour our agreement and we keep our words,” he said.
JUST IN: Declare Kalu’s Seat Vacant — Abia PDP Chieftain Tells Senate
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia, Chief Charles Ike, has charged the Senate leadership to declare the Abia North Senatorial seat vacant due to the incarceration of Sen. Orji Kalu.
Ike gave the charge in a statement he issued in Umuahia on Saturday, saying that the people of Abia North Senatorial District were no longer comfortable being “totally eclipsed” in the Senate. “I hereby call on the Senate leadership to quickly declare Kalu’s seat vacant to enable the district to elect a capable replacement,” he said.
He said that the area had set a machinery in motion for Kalu’s recall and that the process would soon commence in earnest.
Ike also spoke on the recent defection of Chief Bourdex Ogba, the Senatorial Candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for Abia North in the 2019 poll, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He described Ogba’s defection as an act of “political indiscipline”.
He expressed disbelief that Ogba, who dumped APC for APGA, ahead of the 2019 elections, could “so quickly return to pick the same broom he said was not sweeping well”.
He alleged that Ogba’s return to APC was initiated to position himself for the senatorial ticket of the party in the event that the Senate eventually called for a byelection for Kalu’s replacement.
He alleged that Ogba had made four defections in recent time, having moved from PDP to APGA ahead of the 2015 general elections and later to APC and APGA before his latest return to APC.
Ike said: “His jumping from party to party smacks of political indiscipline and his desperation to go to Senate but you know that a rolling stone gathers no moss.
“Unfortunately, too, he lacks the political discipline to be trusted with any public office in Abia north.
“How can you trust a man whose only political antecedent is jumping from one party to another?”
The PDP chieftain further took an exception to a comment credited to Ogba, when he visited the APC national secretariat, where he was quoted to have asked the Senate not to declare Kalu’s seat vacant.
Ike argued that the comment was at variance with the wishes of the people of Abia north who, he said, were earnestly yearning to have a replacement for Kalu.
It would be recalled that Kalu of APC was jailed in December by a Federal High Court for 12 years, having been convicted for a N7.2 billion fraud, when he was Abia governor (1999 to 2003).
Although, Kalu has appealed the High Court verdict, Ike said that his continued incarceration left Abia north without a voice in the Senate.
Senate Declares Bayelsa Governor, Deputy’s Seats Vacant
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan has declared vacant the Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West seats vacated by present Governor and Deputy Governor of the state, Sen. Douye Diri and Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, respectively.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure on Friday while addressing the first regular meeting of Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) in Abuja.
“In the case of Bayelsa State, both the Governor and Deputy Governor were serving Senators. Consequently, the Commission yesterday Thursday 20th February 2020 received two communications from the Senate President declaring the seats for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts vacant.
“The Commission will soon meet to determine the dates for bye-elections in the two Senatorial Districts,” the INEC boss stated.
Recall that Diri and Ewhrudjakpo were sworn in as governor and deputy respectively after the Supreme Court invalidated the election of David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo over certificate forgery.