NASS leadership: Gang up against South-West thickens

•As Forum of Lawmakers demand slot for North central

The position of Speaker of House of Representatives is not cast in stone for the south-west geo-political zone as top chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) are divided on the zoning arrangement being put together by the Presidency and the party national working committee.

Leading the gang up against the south-west are certain governors from the Northwest who continued to argue that having produced the Vice-President,  it should be willing to concede the slot of Speaker to other zones left in the lurch.

Indication emerged on Wednesday in Abuja at a media briefing at the national publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu told newsmen that the party stakeholders which met on Monday at the presidential villa only agreed on the zoning of Senate Presidency to the Northeast. Asked for further clarification, Mallam Isa-Onilu said the party would unveil its zoning arrangement for other offices in due course.

At a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, the Forum of Former Members of the House of Representatives who are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) argued that since the Northwest and Southwest have produced the President and Vice President, respectively and the exalted office of Senate President zoned to the Northeast, the Northcentral should be allowed to produce Speaker of the 9th Assembly.

Spokesman of the Forum, Idris Yahuza Yakubu further argued that the south-east and south south be given the latitude to give the nation their candidate for the position of deputy senate president.

He said: “The foundation for building a cohesive and united Nigeria stands on the tripod of equity, justice and fairness and this is where those of us who have been elected to the House of representatives in the past who have seen how the different arms of government are run have decided to advice our beloved party on how best it can go about addressing the current agitations for geopolitical balancing in allocating the remaining top positions that would determine the shape of the next administration and engender a harmonious executive – legislature relationship for the good of the nation.

“You will recall that in 2015, the APC made the mistake of not paying enough attention in the election of the leadership of the National Assembly and how the party nearly paid dearly for it by having to constantly battle with a hostile legislature since its leaders were not products of the party’s internal democratic arrangement.

“The APC as the ruling party cannot afford to make that mistake again by leaving the choice of those to assume leadership positions in the national assembly to chance. It is our strong view that the party must step forward to provide political direction to its elected members at the National Assembly by zoning all the leadership positions to the specific zones and where possible states.

“This we believe will douse the unnecessary tension being generated in the bid by individual members from the different geopolitical divides of the country to aspire to those positions and avoid further digging of trenches which the party cannot afford to allow at this stage.

“It is high time the party takes a decision on this to make its stand known to the members of the party on time so as to prevent a repeat of the 2015 scenario where it was unable to stop vested interests who had gone too far in their campaigns by the time the party decided to step in.

“If the varied interests are not streamlined on time and individuals are allowed to take hard-line positions it will be difficult for the party to make them reverse without causing further frictions. The former members of the House of Representatives, APC, are ready to support the APC in ways that could be considered fair and just by all within the party.

“As a way of guiding the party to toe the line of equity and fairness, we suggest consideration be given to cognate experience, party loyalty and acceptability among colleagues But most importantly, consideration should be given to zones where the party performed well and where it is strategically important for the growth of the party.

“In taking a decision, the party must also take note that the Northwest and the Southwest already have the president and the vice president respectively and they need to give the other zones a sense of belonging to deepen its faith and commitment to the party.

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“Going by pronouncement in the media that the Senate president has been zoned to the northeast, it then requires that the party goes the whole hog by doing same in respect of all other leadership positions, at the minimum the presiding officers of the two chambers.

“Our considered opinion is that the deputy senate presidency be zoned to the south-east/south south, the speaker to the north central and the deputy speakership to the south south/south-west. Members-elect must be ready to see the intervention of the party as necessary whether it agrees with their aspirations or not because at the end of the day it is the party platform that matters.

“Major stakeholders in the party should also be prepared to guide their people on the principle of party supremacy and on the fine points about internal party democracy.  That way the APC would succeed in laying the foundation for a better Nigeria through the instrument of a well-structured party that has the interest of its people at heart.”

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