The announcement by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) zoning the leadership of the 10th national assembly to the geopolitical zones and certain lawmakers-elect has caused a rumpus in the party as many stakeholders believe the arrangement is not holistic but skewed towards some geopolitical entities.
Recall that the national working committee of the party had, on May 8, met and ratified the zoning of principal positions in the 10th national assembly to some senators-elect from some geopolitical regions.
Spokesman for the party, Mr. Felix Morka announced that the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, was nominated as the preferred senate president.
The party also settled for Mr. Abbas Tajudeen as the speaker of the house of representatives.
Morka further said the party nominated a senator-elect from Kano, Mr. Barau Jibrin, as deputy senate president, and the current spokesman for the house, Mr. Benjamin Kalu, as deputy speaker.
He explained the zoning arrangement as follows: senate president – south-south, Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); deputy senate president – northwest, Jubrin (Kano); speaker, Tajudeen – northwest, (Kaduna) and deputy speaker, southeast, Kalu (Abia).
The house of APC has not known peace since the announcement was made.
Zoning designed to cabin Tinubu – Akeredolu
Leading the pack of ‘dissidents’ is the chairman, Southwest Governors’ Forum and governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Akeredolu rejected the zoning arrangement saying it is “skewed” adding that the sole purpose of the authors of the zoning formula is to cabin the president-elect.
In a statement entitled ‘Proposed APC zoning formula for NASS leadership positions is a skewed arrangement that reinforces injustice and enhances inequity,’ the governor said: “It is with great concern, and, indeed, with a huge burden that I read in the news of the purported zoning arrangement released by the national working committee of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as regards the leadership positions in the yet-to-be inaugurated National Assembly.
“Aside the unpretentious ambiguity in the purported press statement issued by the leadership of the APC, the contents, intentions and motives of the zoning formula represent early signs of steps aimed at attempts to cabin the hard-earned presidency for our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, by a few individuals with eyes on ASO ROCK POWER BUTTONS.
“It is trite to aver that it stands logic on the head that one geo-political zone, northwest, in this regard, will be favoured with two presiding officers positions out of four while north-central suffers the consequences for its innocence and shrewd loyalty by having none.
“It is an insidious permutation that northeast will be deprived in the face of the unsavoury generosity dispensed through two slots to a particular geo-political zone. It is self-repudiating for one to argue, therefore, that the speaker of the house of representatives cannot also emerge from the northeast.”
Southeast deserves senate presidency slot – Izunaso
Also protesting, the senator-elect for Imo West, Mr. Osita Izunaso described as “provocative” a zoning arrangement that allocates two major principal offices to a particular region and micro zones all the four major offices in the national assembly to individuals rather than zones as in the normal practice.
Izunaso said he was the highest ranking senator from the south-south and southeast with a robust and outstanding legislative and national assembly experience spanning from 1992 when he served as the chief press secretary to the speaker of house of representatives to 1999 when he was appointed as the chief press secretary to the president of the Senate.
“I was elected into the House of Representatives at the expiration of which I became a senator representing Imo west senatorial district. In all of these periods, I was one of the most outstanding committee Chairmen in both the green and red chambers.
“It would also interest you to know that during the five years of my tenure as the national organizing secretary of APC there was no single litigation over our congresses both for party primaries and party executives. I was fair, just, adroit and meticulous in all my activities.
“Looking for a complete and loyal party man, I am the best. If competence as in what our father, the President-elect desires in his planned Government of National Competence is the criterion, I am not just the most competent, I am the most capable, creative and organized senator among the contestants. If you want to go with the mood of the nation requiring a government of National Unity, I am an Igbo man from South-East, the most marginalized zone in Nigeria, I am the most qualified.
“Equally, if you want to go with the Not Too Young Act…I am the youngest of all the aspirants, the face of the youths, representing the most agitated demography in the country today. It is me. I am indeed the best and the next person for senate president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Emi Lokan!” he said
North owns APC, president elect – Northern APC senators-elect
The northern APC senators-elect have threatened to cause trouble if the zoning formula is not reworked
The former governor of Zamfara State and Senator-elect, Mr. Abdulaziz Yari, stated this when he led a delegation of some senate presidency aspirants who visited the national chairman of the party, Mr. Abdullahi Adamu and members of the NWC in Abuja.
“We are here to present our letter of grievances to you and also tell this house as leaders that we are not satisfied with the arrangement. What we are expecting from you is to give us fair play.
“We have been in this game and we understand it very well and it is about dialogue. We are saying that yes, the party is supreme, and we are looking at the election we won in 2023 and the next election is 2027 and it depends on how we play our part.
“So Mr. Chairman, we are not undermining what you are doing. We are doing this for the sake of the party, because, if we from the North take another decision, it will not be good for all of us and it will become history which we don’t want to happen. It is only justice that will prevent that from happening. We should all pick our pen today, May 11 and write it down. Anything to the contrary, Northern Nigeria will take another decision.
“The president-elect got 63.4 percent of votes from the North. Where he comes from, the South, he got 36.6 percent. So, if there is anyone who can say we own APC and the president-elect, it is Northern Nigeria, without undermining any part of the country. They have given their best and we can understand their situation but justice needs to be done. We should not be blinded that the power of anyone is not absolute but only God is absolute. We should not look at these four years as 20 years. We are going back to next election. We should underline that,” he said.
APC lawmakers-elect from the north central zone also registered their grievance with the party saying they had been marginalised.
Speaking during a protest march to the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, Salihu Ibrahim, who led the group said: “We are all here to call the attention of the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress…that we are being marginalised as regard the sharing formulas of offices of the 10th national assembly.
“The party has not taken the north-central into consideration and it is outrageous. We are not happy right from the emergence of the APC, we the north-central have contributed largely to the development of APC and up till date we are still on it.
“The north-central should be taken seriously and compensated adequately. Our zone should be recognised and appreciated by the APC national level.
“Our demand is that the 10th assembly speakership should be zoned to north-central if they can’t give us the senate president.”
Learn from history – Aspirant speakers warn
Equally, the zoning formula does not sit well with the contestants for house of representatives speaker and members-elect, led by Messrs Ahmed Wase, Yusuf Gagdi, Muktar Betara, Ahmed Jaha, Femi Bamishile, Abubakar Nakraba, Sani Jaji, Sada Soli, and Ms Mariam Onuoha. They held a meeting with Adamu and other NWC members in Abuja
Wase said at the meeting that there should have been serious consultations before arriving at a decision.
He reminded the party that it did not have the majority in the House, hence, the need to have everyone to agree with such a zoning template.
“What was on social media, again, was the zoning and the micro-zoning to particular individuals. As I speak to you, sir, I want to say categorically that none of us here was approached or consulted even for a second to find our opinion and thought on what was going to be done or what has happened.”
“We feel betrayed by that action. We feel as if our contributions are not recognised, we feel as if we are not members of this family. We feel that we have given our best but now the best is no longer needed.”
“We are here to protest and to appeal to you to go again to look into this matter. That what had been ushered out will not stand. And we are disciplined party people. I want to say, too, in 2019…I was going in for speakership.
“I was pretty sure I was going to win. Leaders of the party called me, including the president, and appealed to me to step down for Hon. Femi. I did that and that was how I came in to take the position of the deputy speaker. I want to say that what has happened, I think that they are taking us for granted.
“We do not want a repeat of what happened in the past. We should not forget about the “Tambuwalisation” of what happened in the house of representatives. We should not forget about the emergence, how Saraki became the senate president. The party, as of today, we do not have the majority to be that arrogant and we should not take people for granted,” he said.
Sheathe your swords – Adamu pleads
Worried by threats by the lawmakers-elect, the national chairman urged the protesting party members said he took responsibility for the controversy caused by the zoning principle.
He urged the aggrieved party members to be patient till the return of the president-elect, saying the NWC cannot take any decision on the matter without Tinubu’s input.
“As NWC, we take responsibility. As chairman, I take responsibility. I don’t have to share with you how what your heard on the air came out, but I take absolute responsibility
“Yes, there were no sufficient or adequate consultations with you, who are contesting and it is a simple principle of democracy that you get views and opinions. But the circumstances that we found ourselves in after the elections frustrated our desire. We must as democrats open up.
“So, when the NWC met, we were very clear that, yes, we have received with respect, the outcome of the meeting with party leaders, comprising the leadership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the party, and the NWC. We will go back to the drawing board. We owe our party that duty to take a look whether what was done cannot be changed; what was done needs some changes or reviews. We will take a look at what necessity compelled us to do by the grace of God.
“Hold the fire until the last word is heard from us. We are the custodians of the party as NWC but we are not acting alone. The voice of the president-elect is an essential voice. We must accommodate him, the best we can. I will not compromise on that. So, he is right now outside the country…when he comes back, we will go back to the drawing board and put our heads together again and see what we will get,” he said.