By Tunde Johnson

The race for the presidency of the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic has now presented itself as a major opening for political correctness and the elimination of the vestiges of ethnocentric campaigns for the 2023 general election. It comes as a very welcome opportunity, which Nigeria need not miss, to pat the South East on the back, even if as a palliative, remembering what President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said in his inaugural address, to the effect that “we are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it”.

This is because the Senate presidency, being the number three topmost political office in the country, holds more promise in reuniting the country and bringing all its component units together for the sort of political action that would strengthen the republic and ensure the success of the Tinubu presidency. From Tinubu’s body language and pronouncements since his election on February 25, we see a President who wants to build on Nigerian diversity and promote its unity beyond the stars. Taking advantage of and promoting Nigeria’s religious and ethnic diversity would help build a better society that taps the best qualities of its people.

As it is, the South East, being an intrinsic leg of the triad, need not be treated like outcasts in the political leadership of their country. This is why any consideration towards ensuring that the zone produces the next Senate President, would be an action towards greater national balance and stability, which the Tinubu presidency needs to deliver on its lofty promises.

Prior to this, the argument had been that the South East lacked APC followership. Many had also argued that the political leadership of the zone had been anti-APC. But emerging trends show that the region has come to appreciate and embrace the promise of the APC leadership to turn things around for good. For instance, with the leadership styles of Hope Uzodimma and Dave Umahi of Imo and Ebonyi states, which have attracted much support and partnerships, APC is now firmly rooted in the region. This support has also led to an increase in the followership of the party in the region. This makes it imperative that the party looks at its Senate leadership zoning decision and accommodate the progressively minded South East population, who, in spite of the challenge posed by the Labour Party in the February election, also ensured that APC got recognisable vote percentages in the region, which counted in its total votes tally.

The South East’s quest for the leadership of the 10th Senate will, therefore, become a soothing balm to calm frayed nerves and reintegrate the region into the Nigerian equation. This will have the advantage of creating a favourable atmosphere for the Nigerian project as enunciated by President Tinubu, to bear fruit and serve the public good. This is so because the people of the South East region love progress.

It is obvious, even to the blind, that the segregation against the South East by the outgone administration created an atmosphere for discord which oftentimes led to violent expressions. However, going through history, it is equally obvious that the South East’s people are not violent and destructive as had been portrayed by misled mindsets. The South East’s people like and love Nigeria. They want a country that works for everyone. They love to live in a country where progress is the watchword. They want to participate in a governance system that attracts, promotes hard work and rewards enterprise. They want a country that gives everyone hope for a better future. Gladly, that is a promise that the Tinubu presidency holds. And they want to be part of the making of that country.

Related News

To discerning minds, the South East’s people love progress. They like new developments. They love to be appreciated for the efforts they make in helping build communities outside their homestead. They want a more united country, the reason they are found in almost every local government area of Nigeria. Their spread is a strength that a forward-looking administration like the incumbent needs to build a more united people and nation. It is trite that campaigns are over and the time to build is now. To successfully build, the Nigerian federation needs a stronger fellowship with Ndigbo through a purpose-driven engagement with the South East, which would come by looking towards the region for a president of the Senate.

Interestingly, the South East region is not lacking in quality and ranking progressive political leaders in the APC family. The likes of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu stand out as capable hands here. There are others who are capable of actively leading the Senate to achieve the visions of President Tinubu. Senator Kalu has proved himself a capable leader with people-centric ideals which match Tinubu’s purpose.

As former governor of Abia State, Senator Kalu has all the essential credentials required of a president of the Senate. He is capable and also imbued with the leadership character that delivers results. He is a beloved son of the South East who is in a position to galvanise more support, and win more support, for the party as well as make it win additional states for the party in the region.

He is also a detribalised political leader whose politics, like that of Tinubu, transcends ethnic coloration and boundaries. He is loved in the North as he is in the South. This is one value that he will add to the leadership of the Senate, which the Red Chamber also knows that it needs to cause a paradigm shift in the Red Chamber of the 2023-2027 session. Nigeria desires a Red Chamber that will illuminate the political space through robust debates on bills, encourage popular participation and deliver positive outcomes. Such debates have the capacity to educate the public and eliminate hearsay and the ignorance that revolves around what government does, and what it is about.

Looking towards the South East for a president of the Senate will be a masterstroke that will perpetually bury misconceptions about Tinubu’s political relationship with the South East. While reading the President’s inaugural address, my mind got fixed on his words when he said: “They shall be my fellow compatriots. And I will treat them as such. They represent important constituencies and concerns that wisdom dare not ignore.

Something tells me that the President was making a promise to the South East with those words.

•Johnson is a public affairs commentator based in Ilorin, Kwara State