SE, SS group warns Buhari against alienation of zones
THE South-East South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which claimed to be “engaged in promoting good governance and rapid, sustainable and inclusive development” in the two geo-political zones of the country, has expressed concern about allegations that the new All Progressive Congress (APC) Federal Government, may be out to “alienate” the zones from general development in Nigeria.
In a letter addressed to Buhari and signed by its president, Emeka Ugwu-Oju and Secretary, Dagogo Karibi-Whyte, the group, which described the two zones as “major enablers of the Nigerian economy”, highlighted some recent events that fuelled its fears that the areas may indeed be on the road to alienation.
In the letter dated July 29, 2015, the SESSPN drew the attention of President Buhari to some “extant issues” which included the speech of the President during a visit to the United States of America, alleged lopsidedness in key appointments by the Federal Government and the threats against Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s emergence as the Deputy Senate President.
The letter, which was copied to many political leaders of the two zones across political divides, however expressed the readiness of the people of the zones to work with the rest of the country to achieve the change dream that the APC government desires.
Highlighting the causes of the fear of marginalization, the SESSPN referred to:
“(1). A recent remark by Your Excellency whilst being interviewed at the Institute of Peace, Washington DC by Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Whilst responding to a question regarding the Niger Delta, Your Excellency stated, inter alia; “the states that voted 97 percent for me will be treated differently from those that voted 5 percent for me”. In other words, all Nigerians will not get equal treatment under your administration. Based on the last Presidential election results, the people of the South-East and South-South zones will of course be classified as those that voted 5 percent for you.
“(2). Whilst delivering the keynote address at the Special Dinner organised in Mr. President honour by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa to mark Your Excellency’s state visit to the USA, you singled out a prominent African entrepreneur of South-East South-South extraction for public embarrassment. Your Excellency declared that the gentleman in question was not expected at the Dinner and was probably brought to the dinner by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while another entrepreneur whom you acknowledged his presence was expected to be in attendance being a relative of one of your key political ally. Unfortunately the in question is the chairman of a major African Banking institution that is also a member of the Corporate Council of Africa, a co-host of the dinner. As a demonstration of patriotism, the gentleman in question was instrumental to the bank being a Gold Category Sponsor of the dinner. Again, Mr. president’s comment on the CBN governor’s purported role in this matter has also exacerbated the strong rumours making the rounds that the CBN governor, being of South-East extraction, is being demonized as a forerunner for his orchestrated forced resignation as a “pay back” for the immediate past CBN Governor’s suspension by the last administration.
“(3). The recent action by your barely two-month old administration pronouncing the dissolution of the governing boards of the Federal Government’s parastatals and agencies singled only one chief executive for outright dismissal and no reason was preferred. This particular chief executive is of South-South extraction. Also, when this dismissed chief executive handed over to an executive director who happens to come from the South-East zone in an acting capacity, the handing over was reversed a few days later following instructions from Abuja in favour of another executive director from the North-East zone.
“(4). The unabated threats to illegally remove Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the elected Deputy Senate President. We believe that Senator Ekweremadu’s colleagues saw an opportunity to have a qualified candidate from the South-East South-South zone elected to the position of DSP in the overriding national interest taking into cognizance the current state of the nation.
“(5). The key appointments so far made by your administration in major national institutions such as the armed forces and other security agencies, for instance, virtually excluded Nigerian nationals of South-East South-South extraction.
“The foregoing action of Mr. President, we are sorry to state, would appear to give the impression they are the latent undercurrent of the policy thrust of the new administration. This ought not to be the direction. We are indeed surprised that the change mantra of Mr. President, which had buoyed the hopes of majority of Nigerians that things would be done differently in the new dispensation, appears already stymied in needless controversy that does not augur well for the future of our democracy. We expect you to heal and unite the nation but your recent actions and speeches seem to be further dividing the nation.
“This is why we appeal to Mr. President to re-examine the issues raised and take steps to redress them to assuage the misgivings already pervading the psyche of the people South-East South-South zones.”