The member representing Okigwe South Federal Constiteuncy, Hon. Chike Okafor, has formerly join the speakership race for the House of Representatives.
Okafor who officially declared for the plum seat on Tuesday, revealed that he has formerly written to the National chairman, (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him in 2015, the APC denied the South-East principal-officer positions in the National Assembly on the ground that they did not have a ranking member under the APC.
“I was slated for leadership position then, but was eventually denied the position of Deputy Whip because I was a first timer, now I am back and ranking!
“It needs no saying that the South-East, which was denied a leadership position in the ruling party leadership caucus of the 8th Assembly deserves compensation in the 9th Assembly. And I am the appropriate vehicle for an equitable compensation to the South-East.
“We are aware of some of the things you may have heard before now and the name already put in circulation as the automatic beneficiary of the Speakership position, and seeming exclusion of the South-East.
It is however unthinkable that our party will abandon the more than 400,000 supporters of our party who voted for the APC across the South-East, to cede the Speakership to a zone that already has the Vice President, the National leader of the APC and multiple appointments.
“A ruling party doesn’t just look at the numbers alone; it also looks at National Interest; it looks at social justice; it considers political
stability and harmony in the body politics; it feels the pulse of the Nation and weighs in on equitable inclusion of federating units of the country in line with the provisions of the constitution of the country and the party, even as it affects sharing of political offices and looking at all these indices, as a party, we have not given the South-East a fair deal! Not yet.
“A critical review of the last general election would easily indicate that the South-East holds immense political prospect and our party needs to initiate efforts to bridge the inclusion gap as it affects the region and pave the way to extract some political capital from the region come 2023 and there is no better way to start than to zone the Speakership of the House of Representatives to the South-East. When we joined the APC, we assured our people that we joined the party so that they could reap the dividend of mainstream politics.
In the last four years we have comparatively little to show for the said dividend. But we soldiered on. In the last presidential election, we braced the challenges; dared the status quo, swum against the tide, staked our pride, put our lives and resources on the line just to give the party a strong foothold in the South-East.403,000 votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 Presidential election may not seem a big deal, but there is no geo-political zone in Nigeria that doubled its vote haul of 2015 in 2019 and improved on it performance in 2015 by more than 100% except the South-East! In the 2015 Presidential election, the APC polled a total of 198,248 votes from across the five states of the South-East but in 2019, it polled a total of 403,958 votes from the same region. Buhari scored more than 25% in three states of the region. This is the first time he is scoring 25% in any state of the South-East.
Supporters of the party in the South-East also succeeded in whittling down the outrageous figures of the PDP in the region unlike the 2015 episode.
In 2015 presidential election, the PDP scored approximately 2.4m votes while the APC polled 198,248 votes. But in 2019, the PDP dropped to 1.6m votes while the APC more than doubled its votes to 403, 958 votes. These efforts, speak eloquently of loyalty and diligent commitment to the party!.
Our party must embrace the culture of political inclusion to be able to enlarge the space for effective leadership. We cannot sustain the capacity of a ruling national party with the attitude of a sectional party.
We should be able to progressively elevate the conversation of good governance, social justice, equity and fairness above the rhetoric we met when we became the ruling power in 2015.
“We should be the people’s party; the party entrenching and building democratic landmarks instead of the party that is deepening the lines sectionalism. President Muhammadu Buhari inspires hope not just to some of us, but to the entire country.
“Following his victory, he declared that his victory is for all Nigerians and promised to run an all inclusive government.
It is expected the entire gamut of the party should align with the President and embrace the politics of inclusion. Whatever be the case, I am certain the leadership of our great party would desire the best for the leadership of the 9th Assembly and I come with requisite competences drawn from both private and public sector of our society.
From my training as a senior banker in the organised private sector to my public sector experiences as Finance Commissioner of my state and member of Federal Allocation Accounts Committee, of the federation, (FAAC) for more than three years which gave me opportunity to interface with vital finance, revenue generating and economic agencies of the country like NNPC, Federal Ministry of Finance, Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, Debt Management Office, (DMO), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), FIRS, CBN, and of course the Finance Commissioners of the other 36 states, built my capacity in no mean measure. Legislative experience is very important, but good training, vast exposure to the entire workings of the economy, through years of playing in the organised private sector, and public sector, from the state level for three and half years, and now four years as a federal legislator would give me an edge over other contestants to the office of Speaker.
“By my training and exposure, I have a better grasp of the economy than the others, and thus will be able to help steer the 9th Assembly, House of Representatives in line with current economic realities and in the process lead the Assembly in making laws and motions that will match up to current realities on ground, and further reinforce and fast track Nigeria’s economic recovery and growth plan. I will be running to win and not for fun. And it might interest you to know that my acceptability cuts across board right from my state to the chambers.
“It is also noteworthy that the prolonged elections and the delayed issuance of my Certificate of Return by INEC, though reason for the late declaration of my ambition, they offered me the opportunity to consult widely with my colleagues, party leadership, and stakeholders in the South East, and beyond and having engaged them robustly, I am sufficiently convinced that this is what I have to do.
And I am in the race to win