Fresh crisis is brewing in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the zoning of the speaker of the House of Representatives to the southwest which has already produced the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Opponents of the zoning arrangement said it is unfair and unjust for the party to anoint Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who represents Lagos Federal Constituency 1 for the post
They warned that if the party fails to get it right this time, 2023 elections might turn out to be a free for all in the ruling party.
The deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yekini Nabena, vehemently disagreed with the party’s adoption of Gbajabiamila saying it has short-changed the other zones.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Nabena said the zoning arrangement must also respect the fact that the Northwest and Southwest have already produced the president and vice president respectively.
“The APC has elected national assembly members from all geopolitical zones of the country. Hence, the party’s leadership and indeed the presidency must take deliberate efforts to provide a fair and justifiable zoning arrangement for the 9th national assembly leadership.
“The zoning arrangement must also respect the fact that the northwest and southwest has already produced the president and vice president respectively.
So, for equity and adherence to the principle of federal character which is a constitutional requirement, the positions of senate president, deputy senate president, speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in the incoming 9th national assembly must be occupied by APC members from the remaining four geopolitical regions of the country.” he said.
He said the APC leadership agreed on zoning the seat of the senate president to the northeast where Mr. Ahmed Lawan, who is contesting the seat hails from.
He suggested that the party should zone the “deputy Senate president to the South-south while the speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives should be zoned to the north central and southeast in any order agreed by the party’s leadership.”
“The Southwest already has a slot filled by the vice president. In any case, the southwest does not necessarily translate to Lagos or Ogun State. This is a sentiment widely shared by our members from the zone.
“The party’s leadership must take deliberate steps to provide a fair and justifiable zoning arrangement for the incoming 9th National Assembly leadership.
“Our actions and inactions will have serious implications on party unity and positively or negatively affect our standing ahead of 2023,” said Nabena.
Similarly, an aspirant for the post of speaker, Mr. Umaru Mohammed Bago, kicked against zoning the position to the southwest zone
Bago, who represents Chanchaga federal constituency of Niger State, argued that the north central zone should produce the next speaker of the House of Representatives in the incoming national assembly because it has not occupied the office since 1999 when Nigeria returned to full-blown democracy.
APC youth leaders from the six geopolitical zones have also kicked against the party’s micro-zoning of the national assembly leadership.
In a communiqué issued after their meeting in Abuja yesterday, the youth leaders asked the party leadership to release the last minutes of their meeting which ratified the endorsement of certain lawmakers vying for the principal offices of the national assembly.
The youths demanded that all the country’s six geo-political zones must be carried along in the zoning of senate presidency and speakership of the House of Representatives to avoid chaos.
APC’s north central leader, Mr. Terver Aginde, who read the communiqué, called for an immediate national executive committee meeting of the party to ensure that all positions in the national assembly are properly zoned to accommodate all the zones for equity and fairness.
He said no zone is less important than the other, adding that zonal stakeholders should be allowed to own and drive the process.
“Whilst we agree with the initiative to determine National Assembly leadership within defined parameters of zoning and ranking to ensure stability and discipline within the ranks of the party, we must do so without undermining the independence of the legislature.
“We consider the micro-zoning as a recipe for chaos mindful of the experience of 2015. It is anomalous to have made a pronouncement on the position of the Senate presidency and speakership of the House of Representatives to the exclusion of other positions and other zones.
“It is pertinent for members of our great party to note that the purported national working committee decision is suspect. Not even the respected and revered national caucus of the APC comprising of major stakeholders such as President Muhammadu Buhari, APC governors, party stalwarts and board of trustees members addressed the issue.
“We are curious to ask for instance how the decision was arrived at, who moved the motion for micro-zoning, who seconded the motion, who voted for it and who was against it. We dare ask who is benefiting from this arrangement; an Individual or the party?
Party members will be glad to see the minutes of the meeting where the decision was taken,” he said.
He further said lack of consultation was responsible for the rancour in the rank and file of the APC.
“All these are the result of the absence of consultation and lack of input from party stakeholders. We know for sure the rules governing the APC as far as decision-making is concerned. Consistent with the provisions of Article 13, Sections 13.3 and 13.4 of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended), we know for a fact that every major decision of the party must be ratified by NEC.
“It is worthy of mention that even Mr. President’s candidacy for party primary in the 2019 election which was rightly zoned to the northwest by the party had to be subjected to ratification by NEC.
“We know that every organ of the party has been constitutionally created and assigned specific roles, yet the zonal and state organs have been rendered inactive,” he added.
The APC youth leader therefore called for unity and reconciliation at all levels of the party, and the immediate reversal of all purported suspension of members in the name of the party to ensure that all positions in National Assembly are immediately zoned to accommodate the six geo-political zones for equity and fairness.