Indications have emerged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will zone the position of Senate Presidency to the South East to assuage feelings of people from the region, Hotmedia.ng has learned.
According to inside sources, with Bola Tinubu, from South West, as president from May 29 and Kashim Shetima, from North East, as Vice President, caucuses in APC are favourably disposed to having a Senate president from South East.
Confirming this to The Guardian Newspaper, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, who wants to remain anonymous, said some elders of the party believe that zoning of the number three position to South East will create a balance of power, in line with the original tripod in the county.
He revealed that majority of the party’s NWC members are of the view that in the spirit of inclusiveness promised by Tinubu, it will pay the APC to zone the Senate Presidency to South East, at a time numbers of APC senators from the region has risen to six, from one in 2015.
The NWC member said those supporting this arrangement have started reaching out to other zones to get their endorsement.
“Having missed out from the presidential contest in all parties at a time the clamour for a president of Igbo extraction was high, it is in the interest of the APC to zone the number three political position to South East,” he said.
The source further revealed that the North Central and the South South have also been positioned to produce the Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, respectively, while North West will produce Speaker, House of Representatives.
He said the NWC members were keen on dousing religious and tribal tension in the country, with its zoning formula.
According to him, “there is tension already and the party is determined to reduce it by doing its best to zone its offices, beginning with the Senate Presidency to the South East.
Arrangements have been concluded to meet with our President-elect, Tinubu, on this matter.
“Since 2015, the distribution of leadership positions by the APC has not been balanced and we are committed to correcting it with the 10th Assembly. So far, we are the majority with 57 senatorial seats.
“During our party’s primaries, the South East didn’t get the support of the party to produce the candidate. This didn’t go down well with them. Now is another opportunity to prove to Nigerians that we are a party for all.”
10th NASS Leadership: Ranking Lawmakers, APC NWC Set To Meet President Elect, Tinubu
A meeting with the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is being contemplated by some high-profile members of the National Assembly made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives Hotmedia.ng has gathered.
The agenda of the meeting is the constitution of the leadership of the national parliament which principally falls on the presiding officers of both chambers.
Recall that report emerged over the weekend that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will before the end of the week of early next week officially release the power-sharing formula among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
An impeccable national assembly source told our correspondent that the impending meeting with Tinubu will take a firm stand on some concerns already raised by the lawmakers as to the factors to be considered before allocating the offices.
The source who craved anonymity said that the factors included a balance of power and avoidance of a Muslim-Muslim national assembly leadership.
Others included the “most marginalized zones” and the zones where Tinubu got huge votes in the last presidential election.
It will be also be recalled that the President-elect, Tinubu and the Vice President-Elect, Senator Kashim Shetima are both Muslims from south west and north east regions respectively which may not be expressly endorsed for any other juicy office in the national assembly.
Though no time was given with regards to when the meeting was scheduled, the source said it would hold sooner after the members-elect converge on Abuja on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively to collect their certificate of return from the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The source added that majority of the party’s NWC members were working on reaching an agreement with other members of the party leadership to zone the Senate Presidency to the South-east, as part of moves to pacify the people of the region.
The source also said that the North Central and the South – South have also been positioned to produce the Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker House of Representatives respectively, while talks on the zoning of other principal offices in both the Red and Green Chambers have reached advanced stages.
Our correspondent was reliably informed that the NWC members were keen on dousing the religious and tribal tensions in the country, with its zoning formula.
“There is tension already and the party is determined to reduce it by doing its best to zone its offices beginning with the Senate Presidency to the Southeast, arrangements have been concluded to meet with our President-elect Bola Tinubu on this matter.
“Since 2015, the distribution of leadership positions by the APC has not been balanced and we are committed to correcting it with the 10th Assembly. So far, we are in the majority with 57 senatorial seats.
“During our party primaries, the Southeast didn’t get the support of the party to produce the flag bearer. This didn’t go down well with them. Now, this is another opportunity to prove to Nigerians that we are a party for all.
“Although the decision lies with the leadership of our party and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, but the NWC are on the same page with regards to this matter and our President-elect is a listener who loves to carry every one along regardless of tribe or religion and he understands how marginalized the Southeast has been in the scheme of things. By the time we meet him, I’m sure he will see reasons to support our cause” the source said.
Investigations also revealed that among those highly considered for the plum job by the party leadership was the incumbent Chief Whip of the Red Chamber, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu while Niger East Senator, Sani Musa was being positioned for the Deputy Senate President.
The former governor of Abia State, who won the Abia North Senatorial District seat for a second term is said to be the preferred choice for the position of President of the Senate even though the name of Senator Godswill Akpabio was also being mentioned in some quarters.
Battle for Reps’ Speakership
The battle for the speakership of the House of Representatives will be a fierce one due to the number of lawmakers who are showing interest and the zoning formula.
While the office is yet to be zoned, Vanguard can authoritatively report that the lawmakers already showing interest have made up their mind to run whether favoured by the party’s zoning arrangements or not.
It was learnt that the north west region is likely to be left with the choice of producing the speaker and Hon. Aminu Jaji from Zamfara State who was the Chairman, the House Committee on Intelligence and National Security in the 8th assembly is who the pendulum is swinging to.
Jaji who was a governorship aspirant in 2019 in Zamfara was also the Director of Contact and Mobilisation for the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council for the North West zone.
But his ambition may meet stiff opposition in Hon. Aliyu Betara representing Biu Kwaya federal constituency of Borno State.
Betara, the current chairman of, the House Committee on Appropriations conceived his speakership ambition in 2019 when he was however pleaded by the powers-that-be to sacrifice such for Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.
The odd against the lawmaker who is returning to the House for the fifth time is that the vice president-elect, Shetima is from the same state of Borno as him and they are both Muslims.
But Vanguard gathered that Betara was determined, has the financial war chest and likely to leverage on the freshness and the large number of the new members-elect to realize his ambition to the latter even though the zoning formula failed him.
It was learnt that a good number of his colleagues who have benefited directly from his benevolence were ready to pay back by supporting his ambition.
Also in the race for deputy speaker’s position are Hon. Tunji-Ojo from Ondo State and Hon. Prince Olaide Akinremi popularly known as Jagaban representing Ibadan North Federal Constituency of Oyo State.
While the choice of Tunji-Ojo, the chairman, House committee on Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC was to form a bridge between the South South which some quarters say didn’t performance so well in terms of giving votes to the APC in the last election; and the south west, Akinremi was considered on the basis of his role and support he gave to the party and the speaker Gbajabiamila during his campaign for the speakership in 2019.
But sources told Vanguard that Akinremi was a loyal party man who will respect the party’s choice and serve under any capacity he might be appointed within the principal offices of the majority in the House.
It’s however left to be seen whether the party will zone the deputy speaker’s position to south-west where the President-Elect hailed from or the south south eventually.