This is said to be the new deal being proposed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to get Ekweremadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of the very strategic position he landed in the National Assembly leadership.
APC leaders, particularly those against the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate president, have remained implacable over the election that saw Ekweremadu defeating Ali Ndume for the number two job in the Senate.
Since his emergence alongside Saraki in what is now known as the “hybrid” leadership, there has been no let on the part of those who wanted him out, with the Enugu senator coming under severe attacks in the media.
An alleged criminal case was also hewn out of his controversial election, leading to a police invitation for alleged forgery, a move defined by the PDP as a plot by the APC to take him out of circulation before the resumption of the upper chamber, then force Saraki to conduct a fresh election for a deputy from the new ruling party.
With efforts at forcing him out not yielding the desired result, those pushing Ekweremadu’s ouster are said to have shifted ground from a bellicose approach to a more persuasive and negotiated one, leading to the new deal which was reportedly primed to be more ethnically-inclusive instead of the earlier partisan-based front.
It was learnt that having realised that with Saraki as the Senate president, it would be a futile attempt trying to bulldoze Ekweremadu out of office, his traducers are reportedly lobbying the leaders and elders of the South East zone with the SGF position, which is being reportedly presented as bigger and better placed to benefit the whole geopolitical zone, considering the importance of the position in the polity.
The SGF is largely seen as a more influential office than the office of the Deputy Senate President, but is always held at the pleasure of the president unlike that of the Senate.
While it could not be confirmed if President Muhammadu Buhari is part of the deal, his objection to Ekweremadu’s emergence has been undisguised.
He was expected to name the SGF in the first weeks of his presidency as is the practice but he has vacillated on it so far.
Former Governor Ogbonnaya Onu is largely seen as the leading candidate from the South East, though mentions had also been made of the Secretary to Borno State Government and APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, from the South South, who recently said his interest in the post was scant.
Though it could not be independently verified if the proposal had been communicated to Ekweremadu, Saturday Tribune has reliably learnt that more South-Eastern business leaders and professionals are being recruited to join in the persuasion.
Days ahead may also see the position being pushed in the media.
A delegation of South-East leaders and elders, who are not overtly political but with sympathy for the APC, may be arranged to visit Buhari in days ahead to secure a firm commitment on the proposal.
The aftermath of such visit may see Ekweremadu being invited to a meeting of the Ndigbo where the deal and the benefits or otherwise of it would be discussed and decisions on either accepting or rejecting it would also be taken.
While the SGF job is said to be very appealing to a lot of Igbo elders, considering the numerous opportunities it presents to the people of the zone at the federal level, the reality of holding it at the pleasure of the president and without a clear-cut job security is said to be giving a lot of concern among those approached with the idea.
A source said the Ndigbo would have jumped at the offer were it to be coming from a platform headed by someone outside of the Hausa/Fulani area, saying “They (North) never liked us since the time of civil war. How can anyone trust anyone with something like this even if this is coming from the president himself. What if anyone appointed as the SGF is fired in less than a year. At least, God willing, the other one (Ekweremadu) is almost certain of four years.
“If Obasanjo were to be the president and such deal is offered, the Ndigbo would take it and ask Ekweremadu to leave their deputy Senate wahala for them. We can’t even trust Jonathan with this kind of deal despite doing us well. This kind of talk with a Buhari presidency is not a risk worth taking”.
Ekweremadu, however, has said he would not relinquish the seat, despite the sustained attack.
Another political source described the proposal as laughable. “Is DSP [Ekweremadu] a member of their party [APC]? Who is that true-born Igbo that would ask his own to quit a seat to have another when the North is already having numbers one, three and four citizens? What number is DSP and SGF on the protocol list that one would have to go for the other for the Ndigbo to have a say in this administration? I don’t blame them, I blame our leaders who can be called into all manners of agenda”.