Nigeria’s south east region has traditionally gotten the short end of the stick. When compared to other geopolitical zones, the zone received the fewest ministers in recent ministerial nominations. As a result, the South East Senate caucus asked the President for two more cabinet berths in order to balance the country’s geographical representation in this government.
Senator Tony Nwoye (Labour Party, Anambra North) recently filed a proposal that was co-sponsored by the remaining 14 Senators from the South East, noting that the two more slots would ensure equity, fairness, and justice in the representation of all geopolitical zones.
The caucus stated that the South’s under representation in the current administration would be detrimental to national unity and loyalty, as stipulated in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as modified).
Also, in the interest of justice and equity and in accordance with the federal character principle enshrined in Section 5(a)(b) Part 3 and Section 4(b) Part 1 of the Federal Character Commission Act, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, sought more slots for the South East. Godswill Akpabio, Senate President, vowed to raise the issue with President Bola Tinubu as soon as feasible.
A request for extra south east berths is in order. The North West currently has ten ministers, with Kano, Kebbi, and Katsina each having two. The North-East has eight places, with Taraba and Bauchi each having two. There are eight in North Central. The South West has nine berths, with Ogun having three and Lagos having two. The south has eight, but the east only has five. There are no extra slots in the zone.
This is completely unjust. And that is consistent with the zone’s marginalization throughout the years. This federation has at least six states in each zone. There are seven in the north-west. However, the south east has five. The zone also contains the fewest local government areas. The zone is underserved when it comes to distributing resources, depending on the number of states or local government entities. South East youths face unfair admission procedures in our unification schools as well.
In Nigeria, the Federal Character concept, as established in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, requires equality, fairness, and inclusivity in the allocation of appointments and other items. This is evident from the breach. Appointments in the civil service and security agencies are biassed against the South East. No South Easterner was found qualified to be a Service Chief, Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Inspector-General of Police, Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Controller-General of Customs, Comptroller-General of Immigration, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), or Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) during Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
We assumed that nepotism would continue with the Buhari administration. However, it has persisted. The present administration did well by picking an Enugu native as Chief of Naval Staff.
However, when compared to other prominent positions, this pales into insignificance. The President is from the South West, the Vice President is from the North East, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is from the North Central. The Senate President is from the South, and his deputy is from the North. The Speaker of the House is from the North West, while his deputy is from the South East. In the judiciary, Nigeria’s Chief Justice hails from the South West.
This form of marginalization is fueling the unrest in the South East. Today, the region has become a haven for various gunmen who terrorize the populace in the name of executing the Monday sit-at-home command. The sit-in is in solidarity with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who has been detained in the DSS facility since June 2021. In the Southeast, IPOB is a leading advocate for self-determination.
The country’s structural imbalance must be addressed. For the sake of equality and fairness, the Southeast should be treated similarly to other zones. Politics has ended. It is time to get serious about government. Because no area has a larger stake in Nigeria, both those who voted for the ruling party and those who probably voted against it should be treated equally. No nation can exist by marginalizing any of its basic elements.
So far, the Southeast has gotten crumbs. It is not deserving of this treatment. After all, the APC is in charge of two of the zone’s five states. The APC has six senators from the zone. It hurts when a government begins to treat an area as if it had a beef with it. What we are presently witnessing in the Southeast is the simplest method to alienate a population.
The President still has time to correct the imbalance. To begin, the Federal Government should explore adding a state to the southeast. This will guarantee that the area has the same number of states as other areas.