10th NASS leadership: Crisis hits APC over zoning of Senate president, Speaker
The zoning crisis in the All Progressives Congress, APC, has taken a new turn with stakeholders singing discordant tunes as the various zones make fresh demands on the party hierarchy.
The APC National Working Committee, NWC, on Monday, zoned the Senate Presidency of the forthcoming 10th National Assembly to the South-South; and the Speakership of the House of Representatives to the North-West. The party also zoned the Deputy Senate Presidency to the North-West, and Deputy Speakership to the South-East.
Specifically, the party adopted the zoning template and candidates of its President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and settled for Senators Godswill Akpabio/ Barau Jubrin for Senate leadership; and Messrs Abass Tajudeen/Ben Kalu for House of Representatives leadership.
While some stakeholders are in support of the party’s move, others are against it and want a review.
But the NWC is now divided over the micro-zoning of the positions. It emerged, yesterday night that the zoning template was not unanimously adopted by all members of the NWC.
While many of the members did not exactly oppose Tinubu’s choice of geopolitical zones, they were said to have kicked against the micro-zoning of the leadership positions.
“It was indeed the thinking of some of us that anyone from the zones to which a particular office has been allocated can contest. We did not want a situation where positions would be given to individuals. This was why we also advised that there should be further consultations,” said an aggrieved member, who did not want his name mentioned for fear of possible repercussions.
He expressed concern that other aggressive contestants, particularly in the House of Representatives could team up to produce a formidable opposition to the adopted candidate, Tajudeen Abbas.
Why N-West deserves Senate President
Some APC stakeholders in the North-West are not happy with the speakership and deputy Senate presidency slots. According to them, the North-West gave Tinubu the highest number of votes at the two senators-elect from the zone – the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Jibrin representing Kano-North district, and former governor Abdulaziz Yari are vying for the seat.
Insisting on producing the Senate President, a North-West APC stakeholder said: “Tinubu, candidate of the APC in the 2023 presidential election, is now the president-elect courtesy of the magnanimity and loyalty of the North-West, which gave him the highest votes in the election followed by the South-West. Without the North-west, therefore, there would not be a Tinubu presidency.
“Denying the North-West the senate leadership will be akin to testing the loyalty of the region and its people, and ultimately, it would come with dire political consequences.”
18 N-Central Senators-elect kick
In like manner, Senators- elect from the North-Central zone kicked against the APC zoning template, saying it would not stand the test of time.
The Senators-elect from different political parties, who rejected the zoning arrangements for the 10th National Assembly leadership had written a letter of protest to the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led NWC, calling on the party to, as a matter of urgency, jettison the arrangements they described as unacceptable.
According to them, only the North-Central geopolitical zone did not produce any presiding officer.
The letter by the lawmakers-elect entitled: “Resolution of the North Central Caucus of the 10th Senate on NASS Leadership Zoning, was signed by 18 Senators-elect.
The letter read in part: “We the North-Central Senators-elect Caucus met on Monday, May 8, 2023, and resolved as follows:
“That the North-Central as a geopolitical zone in Nigeria has paid its dues in the political stability of the country and shall continue to do so, but where we see the open denial of our rights and privileges, we will have no option than to voice out in the interest of the zone and its people we represent.
“It is pertinent to know that we are fully committed to supporting the incoming administration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Tinubu for a better Nigeria.
This can only happen if fairness, equity and justice are ensured. It is on record that the North-Central gave the APC 41 per cent of her votes to victory, hence we equally deserve it as others.
“Our caucus reviewed the proposed zoning structure released, and we are not pleased and comfortable with the allocation of the positions of the Deputy Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th National Assembly to a particular geopolitical zone of the country (North-West), we hereby reject it.
“The convention has always been that the six geopolitical zones of the country will have one each of the six positions.
“Now that the South-West and North-East have produced the President-elect and Vice President-elect respectively, it is only fair and natural that the positions of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives should be shared among the other four geopolitical zones, that is the North-Central, South-South, South-East and North-West.
“Sequel to the above, we as a caucus are calling on the APC to immediately retract its earlier decision which schemes us out of the power-sharing formula of the country and cede the position of the Deputy Senate President to the North-Central Zone so as to ensure fairness, equity and justice for a smooth 10th Senate.”