10th NASS leadership: Crisis hit APC over zoning of positions of Senate President, Speaker

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The All Progressives Congress, APC, zoning crisis has taken a new turn, with stakeholders singing discordant tunes as the various zones make new demands on the party hierarchy.

On Monday, the APC National Working Committee, NWC, zoned the Senate Presidency of the upcoming 10th National Assembly to the South-South and the House Speakership to the North-West. The Deputy Senate Presidency was also zoned to the north-west, and the Deputy Speakership to the southeast.

The party specifically adopted the zoning template and candidates of its President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and settled on Senators Godswill Akpabio/Barau Jubrin for Senate leadership and Messrs Abass Tajudeen/Ben Kalu for House of Representatives leadership.

While some stakeholders support the party’s decision, others are opposed and want it reconsidered.

However, the NWC is now split on the issue of position micro-zoning. It was revealed last night that the zoning template was not unanimously adopted by all NWC members.

While many members did not object to Tinubu’s choice of geopolitical zones, they were said to be opposed to the micro-zoning of leadership positions.

“It was indeed the thought of some of us that anyone from the zones to which a specific office has been assigned could contest.” We did not want a situation in which positions were assigned to individuals. This is why we recommended additional consultations,” said an irate member who did not want his name mentioned for fear of repercussions.

He expressed concern that other aggressive candidates, particularly those in the House of Representatives, could band together to mount a formidable challenge to the adopted candidate, Tajudeen Abbas.

Why is N-West deserving of Senate President?

Some APC stakeholders in the North-West are dissatisfied with the positions of speaker and deputy Senate president. According to them, the North-West gave Tinubu the most votes of the two senators-elect from the zone vying for the seat: the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Jibrin representing Kano-North district, and former governor Abdulaziz Yari.

“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,” a North-West APC stakeholder said. Without the North-west, there would be no Tinubu presidency.

“Denying the North-West Senate leadership would be akin to putting the region and its people to the test, and it would ultimately have dire political consequences.”

18 newly elected senators from the North Central region kick off

Similarly, Senators-elect from the North-Central zone argued that the APC zoning template would not stand the test of time.

Senators-elect from various 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, urging the party to abandon the arrangements they described as unacceptable as soon as possible.

Only the North-Central geopolitical zone did not produce a presiding officer, according to them.

The letter was signed by 18 Senators-elect and was titled “Resolution of the North Central Caucus of the 10th Senate on NASS Leadership Zoning.”

“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 country’s political stability and will continue to do so, but where we see the open denial of our rights and privileges, we will have no choice but to speak out in the interest of the zone and the people we represent.”

“It is important to note that we are fully committed to assisting the incoming administration of President-elect Asiwaju Tinubu in building a better Nigeria.”

This is only possible if fairness, equity, and justice are maintained. The North-Central has given the APC 41% of her votes, so we deserve it just as much as the rest of the country.

“Our caucus reviewed the proposed zoning structure released, and we are not pleased or comfortable with the allocation of the positions of the Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th National Assembly to a specific geopolitical zone of the country (North-West),” the caucus said.

“The convention has always been that one of the six positions will be assigned to each of the country’s six geopolitical zones.”

“Now that the South-West and North-East have produced the President-elect and Vice President-elect, it is only fair and natural that the positions of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives be shared among the remaining four geopolitical zones, namely the North-Central, South-South, South-East, and North-West.”

“In light of the foregoing, we as a caucus call on the APC to immediately reverse its earlier decision, which cheats us out of the country’s power-sharing formula, and cede the position of Deputy Senate President to the North-Central Zone in order to ensure fairness, equity, and justice for a smooth 10th Senate.”

Tinubu should avoid sycophants, according to Kawu.

Meanwhile, Suleiman Kawu, the Senator-Elect from Kano South Senatorial District on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, has warned Tinubu not to be misled by sycophants into making the wrong decision on National Assembly leadership.

Kawu told reporters in Abuja yesterday that the only way the 10th National Assembly lawmakers could face the country’s challenges was to use the Constitution as a guide.

“We are in touch with 109 senators and I will assure you that we have a serious number to stop imposition in the Senate or in the House of Representatives,” Kawu said, noting that the majority of the newly elected lawmakers were already discussing working against the APC’s announced zoning arrangements.

N-Central is adamant about retaining the Speakership.

A section of the North-Central zone is also demanding the Speakership. This demand was made known by the North Central Democratic Coalition, led by Dr. Ben Amodu, at a rally held yesterday at the APC National Secretariat.

“Today, the North Central Democratic Coalition elected to use the occasion of a rally to impress on the APC’s NWC to activate all necessary mechanisms to ensure the North-Central region is zoned to the speakership position for the 10th National Assembly,” he said.

“Our region has been a consistent supporter of the APC, and we have contributed immensely to the party’s success in every election,” he stated.

Amodu, who stated that the North-Central region is a critical bloc in Nigerian politics, accused the APC of marginalizing the region and warned that failure to meet their demand would have political ramifications.

“If the North-Central is not carried along, it may send a strong message to the region, which may result in some political consequences, as the case may be,” he said.

Senators-elect Oyebanji and Ekiti support Akpabio.

Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State, on the other hand, has stated that Ekiti is committed to a united and formidable 10th National Assembly, as well as the APC NWC’s decision to zone the Senate President position to the South-South.
The governor made the announcement while hosting Senator Godswill Akpabio and other Senators-elect in Abuja.

Opeyemi Bamidele, Yemi Adaramodu, and Cyril Fasuyi, newly elected Senators from Ekiti, were also present at the meeting.

Governor Oyebanji told reporters that the NWC’s decision on the leadership of the 10th National Assembly is final.

“In Ekiti State, we are committed to a united National Assembly, and we are also committed to the decision of the APC’s National Working Committee with respect to zoning, and you can attest to the fact that all the Senators are here with me just to have dinner with Akpabio,” Oyebanji said.

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“We are supporting his aspiration as directed by the party’s national body.” We are all in this together; we will not only support him, but also publicly identify with him, as I have done.”

Akpabio, I’m prepared.

“I had the opportunity to be a lawyer for the past 36 years, I have also had the opportunity to serve in the executive, as a commissioner, and I have also had the opportunity to serve as a governor for eight years,” Senator Akpabio said. I have previously served in the Senate as a leader and had the opportunity to serve as a Minister. Today, by the grace of Almighty God and the decision of our Party’s National Working Committee, I am a Senator-elect and a prospective Senate President.

“I am ready and determined to help Tinubu, the incoming President, succeed.” Despite the difficulties in the economy and elsewhere, this is going to be a good time for Nigeria. We will do everything possible to implement good policies that will allow Nigerians to have food on their tables while also creating job opportunities to reduce banditry and insecurity in the country. “We are determined to bring the country together,” he said.

The South-East APC group applauds the party’s decision.

Similarly, the South-East/Igbo APC Progressives Roundtable, SIAPRO, accepted the party leadership’s decision on the zoning template but sought deliberate measures to integrate the zone into the APC and Nigeria’s larger picture.

“We have seen the zoning arrangement for presiding officers and portfolios for the 10th National Assembly as prescribed by our great party, the APC,” the group said in a letter to Tinubu, APC National Chairman, Senator Adamu, and APC governor, governors-elect, and national officers by Dr Uche Diala (director general), Mr Emmanuel Molokwu (national secretary), and Mr Charles Okoye (national publicity secretary). Even if we have reservations about it, as true party members, we accept it with total loyalty and respect for party supremacy. We know that the party will act wisely and do what is best for the party and the country.

“Without ado, South East/Igbo APC progressives are deeply concerned about how South East/Igbo APC progressive foot soldiers who have given their all at the risk of their lives, properties, and livelihoods will be treated in the future.” We’ve all seen how we’ve been treated over the last eight years. Nonetheless, we persevered, believing and fighting out of patriotism and conviction.

“We saw how the previous Presidential Campaign Council was put together. But we kept believing, giving even more against all odds for the love of the country and the APC, including a significant contribution to our great party’s and Tinubu’s victory in the last election.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on how certain lists have been flying around recently, and we’ve quietly observed the composition and make-up of those lists in terms of South East/Igbo APC Progressives.”

“We have also read how some of our fellow progressives essentially lump Igbos into the same basket as IPOB and Obidients, without even showing sensitivity for South East/Igbo APC Progressives, who defied all odds, vilification, and attacks from their kinsmen, yet kept believing and fighting for the good of Nigeria, the party, and the progressive cause.”

“We can’t pretend we don’t know or see what’s going on, and we can’t keep quiet any longer.” “If we truly want and mean it when we say we want deeper integration of Igbo and the South-East into the APC and back into the mainstream of Nigerian national and political life, then deliberate and sincere action is required to ensure that South-East/Igbo APC Progressives who have been in the trenches since 2015 are not left behind once more.”

Gbaja’s men seek signatures from members-elect.

Amid the demands, lawmakers said to be loyal to House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila have begun a lobbying drive to collect signatures from members-elect.

The development followed what an APC NWC member described as a ‘deliberate ambiguity’ in the party’s press statement.

“The whole scenario is completely different from what it used to be,” said an NWC member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. We usually zone to areas or zones and allow people who are interested to compete for the positions that are zoned to them. In this case, however, we were simply handed over what they claimed had been agreed upon, with no input or deliberation from us (NWC).

“So, since that’s what they want, we’ve given it back to them and the public to start digging deeper into whatever ambiguity they can find because we were deliberate and very cautious in our correspondence because we’re not babies.”

“It is now up to stakeholders at any level to seek whatever intervention, interpretation, and clarifications they require.”

New Dawn Movement newcomers

At the time of publication, a meeting of freshmen organized by the New Dawn to oppose Tajudeen Abbas was about to begin.
The meeting was supposed to collect signatures, but only about 23 of the new members out of over 200 had arrived, and a few had declined to sign.

Wase, Ado-Doguwa, and others get together.

Meanwhile, in response to the letter from the party’s NWC, House of Representatives aspirants Messrs Yusuf Gagdi, Sani Jaji, Idris Wase, Alhassan Ado-Doguwo, Aliyu Betara, and Sada Soli met yesterday in Abuja for a strategic meeting.
The candidates insisted that they would not change their stance on the zoning of the National Assembly seat.
After the meeting, one of the aspirants stated, “Yes, we are moving forward together.”

NASS members-elect will decide who will preside — PDP, LP

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Labour Party, LP, responded yesterday by dismissing the APC zoning arrangements as an internal party matter.

Separate responses to the subject were provided by the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Debo Ologunagba, and his LP counterpart, Obiora Ifoh.

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The APC’s zoning is an internal matter—PDP

“I’m not a member of the other party; what they decide to do in this case is their business; we will do ours,” Ologunagba said.
Although he was evasive about the details of the party’s plans to thwart the APC’s bid to control both chambers, it was gathered that the party was attempting to first put its house in order before making its position on the issue public.

“Our party is just being tactical,” a party loyalist informed of the development said. The truth is that we must band together to avoid a repeat of what occurred during the last elections in some states, where some of our leaders, particularly governors, worked against the party’s interests.

“Some of the alliances formed by some of the G-5 governors with the ruling party are still active and may come into play, and a lot of consultations are still ongoing.”

It’s a pointless exercise —LP

Obiora Ifoh, the spokesman for the Labour Party, expressed confidence that members-elect, particularly those elected on the platform of opposition parties, would use their numerical strength to assert themselves and provide Nigerians with truly representative leadership.

“The APC has made its pronouncement, which is within its right when speaking to its members,” Ifoh said.

“Our members and members of other opposition parties, who together form the majority, are not bound by the APC’s decision as such, and they will vote for men and women with capacity.”

 

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