‘How APC will zone Senate, House top posts’

The election of next Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker will be predicated on zoning and other three-interwoven factors, it was learnt yesterday.
The three factors, which are likely to influence zoning, are religion, voting pattern and political base of aspirants, a party source said.

The source, a highly placed member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC), said the party had delayed its meeting due to the absence of President-elect Bola Tinubu.

Yesterday, Tinubu returned to the country after a 34-day vacation in France, following his victory at the February 25 poll.

Also, the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is abroad, is expected back soon.

The source said the party’s national leadership will fashion out the zoning formula, adding that its prescription will be final and binding on the aspirants.

Shedding light on the three factors, the party source said they cannot be ignored because they are also dictated by public expectation.

He said: “No decision has been taken at the party level. But, some factors – religion, voting pattern across the geo-political zones and the political base of aspirants will be considered. We are waiting for the President-elect and the chairman to return.”

Apart from these factors, observers also belive that the next chairman and deputy chairman of the National Assembly should be men of honour, credibility and integrity.

The President-elect and vice president-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima from the Northeast, are of the same faith.

The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), in its memo to the President-elect and national chairman, excluded the two zones in recommendations on zoning.

They suggested that the party should zone the Senate President to Southeast and Southsouth, which are predominantly Christian areas that will produce a Christian senators-elect.

Sources close to the governors disclosed that since the number one and two citizens are Muslims, the number three citizen should be a Christian for the purpose of religious balancing.

However, the forum urged the party to zone the House Speaker to Northwest and Northcentral. Which Northwest is predominantly Muslim, Northcentral is made up of Christians and Muslims.

Shortly after the presidential and National Assembly polls, Kaduna State Governor Nasiru El-Rufai urged the party to zone the House Speaker to Northwest as the baseline for micro-zoning the slot to Kaduna State.

In the past three weeks, Northwest stakeholders from the seven states have intensified their agitation for zoning of the top National Assembly offices to the region, hinging their clamour on the fact that the party garnered the highest number of votes from the region.

But, a major challenge to the ruling party is that aspirants for Senate President are from Northwest, Northeast, Northcentral, Southeast and Southsouth while those jostling for the Speaker are also from Northwest, Northcentral, and Northeast.

Aspirants for Senate President include Senate President Ahmed Lawan (Yobe, Northeast), Ali Ndume, (Borno, Northeast), Sani Musa, (Niger, Northcentral), Barau Jibbrin (Kano, Northwest), Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi (Southeast), Osita Izunaso (Imo, Southeast) and Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom, Southsouth).

The House members eyeing the Speaker include Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase (Plateau, Northcentral); Aliyu Muktar Betara (Borno, Northeast); Majority Leader Alhassan Ado Donguwa (Kano, Northwest); Olaide Akinremi (Oyo, Southwest); Benjamin Kalu (Abia, Southeast); Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna, Northwest); Abubakar Yalleman (Jigawa, Northcentral) and Abdulraheem Olawuyi (Kwara, Northcentral) and Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (Plateau, Northcentral).

The aspirants have embarked on extensive mobilisation, consultations and campaigns across the country to get endorsement from influential party leaders and other eminent Nigerians.

Last week, the APC National Vice Chairman (North) Salihu Lukman cried out that the aspirants were heating up the party and country with their aggressive campaigns, urging the party to checkmate them.

There were also reports about desperate aspirants who have started linking up with opposition lawmakers-elect for support.

Another NWC member, who reflected on the race for the National Assembly leadership, assured that the APC will make a pronouncement on zoning to its National Assembly caucus and members.

He doubted if loyal party federal lawmakers will pursue any ambition that is contrary to the party’s stand on zoning.

The NWC member added: “Every member-elect is free to show interest in principal offices, but their bids will in no way affect the decision of the party.”

Collaborating his colleague, who had said that the decision on zoning will be made when key members of the National Caucus return to the country, he said: “The President is around. The President-elect just came in him. We are waiting for the national chairman to return.”

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