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Published On: Thu, Oct 22nd, 2015

Lopsided Appointments: “Let’s Carry every part of the country along”- Ekweremadu


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Senator Ekweremadu exchanging greetings with the red cap chiefs at the Commissioning of Ogbombara Water Project, Ndeabor

Senator Ekweremadu exchanging greetings with the red cap chiefs at the Commissioning of Ogbombara Water Project, Ndeabor

 
…Why South East Deserves additional State
 
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, wants every part of Nigeria to be given a sense of belonging irrespective of their political choices.
 
He made the call while delivering the 2015 Annual Lecture of the Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State entitled “The Politics of Constitutional Review in a Multi-ethnic Society” in Awka.
 
Senator Ekweremadu who blamed ethno-sectional sentiments and interests as major setbacks to constitutional amendment efforts, expressed happiness that was “a growing ranks of detribalised Nigerians who will eventually aggregate to move this nation forward”.
 
He also insisted that not all of Nigeria’s problems needed constitutional amendment and called on the leaders to “show the political will to even implement what we have”.
 
He noted giving every part of the country a sense of belonging transcends the compulsion of the constitution as in the case of ministerial appointments because Nigeria’s young and multi-ethnic democracy was beset by peculiar challenges not common in advanced democracies .
 
He said: “I have of recent followed arguments on the appointments made so far by the current administration that were so clearly lopsided that it left the South East totally empty-handed.
 
“I have also heard the argument that the Federal Character Principle espoused by Section 14 of the Constitution does not apply in the appointment of service chiefs, heads of strategic federal agencies, and other key staff in the presidency.
 
“My reaction to that is that even if there were nothing like the Federal Character Principle in our Constitution, I think that in this country that is just recovering from a most divisive and bitterly fought presidential election in its history; in a country where vicious civil war has been fought and the scares are not fully healed; in a country where a presidential election believed to have been won by a part of the country was annulled; in a country which has deteriorated from one that citizens held high political and civil service offices outside their places of origin to one in which they can  hardly do so anymore; and indeed in a country where there has been consistent outbreaks of militancy and restiveness by people who believe they have been short-changed, maltreated, and therefore better off outside the Nigerian commonwealth, I firmly believe from the depth of my heart and conscience that you do not even need a soothsayer or compulsion of the Constitution to know that you must necessarily carry every part of the country along. It is an inescapable imperative in the interest of Nigeria”.
 
He also called for a return to regionalism along the six geopolitical lines, explaining that  “If we have anything to learn from the current oil glut and the hard times that have befallen us, it is that breastfeeding 36 states will ultimately not work. We may pretend for as long as possible, but we cannot pretend forever”.
 
The Senator, however, stressed that until the nation embraced the reality, the South East deserved an additional state “for the sake of equity in the distribution of resources and opportunities”.
 
Senator Ekweremadu was also quick to add that creating extra state required political solution and understanding as the military had “planted stumbling blocks in the Constitution”.
 
“Creating a state in Nigeria by the provisions of Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution is like passing a camel through the eye of a needle as the military have more or less locked the structure of the country the way they wanted it and threw the key into the Atlantic Ocean”, he stressed.
 
Senator Ekweremadu observed that being a multi-ethnic nation, with relatively little experience with democracy, “we face challenges rarely encountered by mature democracies”
 
“These challenges demand patience, understanding, accommodation, and willingness to make concessions and to subordinate personal and sectional interests to the overriding interests of the nation”, he added.

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