The senator representing Abia South in the National Assembly, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of deliberately sidelining the south east in his appointments into the National Defence Council and the National Security Council.
Mr Abaribe, a Peoples’ Democratic Party senator, made the allegation while contributing to a motion for ‘urgent need to appoint a representative of the South-East into the National Defence Council and the National Security Council’ sponsored by Victor Umeh (Anambra-APGA)
Quoting section Section 5 (1) A and B Mr Abaribe, an ardent critic of Mr Buhari, said the president’s move to exclude his region from the two councils is deliberate.
“A matter of the exclusion of the south east is a matter we have carried in this chamber and indeed in the executive chamber because I have personally led the south east caucus to Mr President to discuss this matter,” said the opposition party senator.
“Let me say that in addition to all constitutional provisions that have been done in this motion, there is a key constitutional provision which buttresses what is said here.
“Mr President does not have an option. What we have seen is a deliberate, I repeat, a deliberate misreading of the Constitution as to the powers of Mr President to decide on his own to determine who he can appoint.”
Mr Abaribe said the constitution gives the president the power to appoint outside the security outfits but he must first reflect federal character before using his power.
“I’m very glad that in the motion of the matter of what constitutes the defence council, Section H says such other members as the president may appoint, which gives Mr President the option to co-opt people from outside the service chiefs in whichever way that he wants.
“What we are saying is that fact, that despite the provision of the constitution, despite the options that are given, there is a deliberate attempt not to let some part of this country to be part of the security architecture and that, we are saying is not so good for this country.”
The lawmakers failed to adopt Mr Abaribe’s prayers which include the president’s reconstitution of membership of the councils and appointing an officer from the South-East as Service Chief for equitable representation.
The senate president, Bukola Saraki, did not put the prayers into a debate. He instead ruled that the issue be ‘noted’ as the lawmakers could not reach a consensus.