•Buhari meets with APC lawmakers-elect, Oshiomhole, NWC officials
•APC Youth leaders reject NWC’s micro zoning formula
•Bago campaign makes case for N/Central as N’Delta youths back Dogara for Speaker
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Omeiza Ajayi
An All Progressives Congress Party (APC) supporter waves a party flag while celebrating initial results released by the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kano, on February 25, 2019, two days after general elections. – Nigeria’s main opposition on February 25 accused the ruling party of trying to rig presidential elections, as the incumbent made early gains but monitors voiced concern about polling day problems, including dozens of deaths. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of President Muhammadu Buhari of colluding with the electoral commission in an attempt to “manipulate the results”. (Photo AFP)
ABUJA — FRESH crisis is looming in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, over zoning of leadership positions in the 9th National Assembly that will be inaugurated in June.
The party is yet to wriggle out of the snarl occasioned by its endorsement of Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) for the Senate presidency. Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), has insisted on running for the position and would not step down for Lawan despite pressure from some APC leaders.
The latest crisis is coming from alleged moves by the party hierarchy to endorse House of Representatives Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, for the speakership. Gbajabiamila is from the South-West where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hails from. There have been agitations by some stakeholders that the speakership should neither go to the North-West, which produced President Muhammadu Buhari, nor South-West that produced the vice president.
The North-Central and South-East zones are clamouring for the Number Four seat to ensure equity, justice and inclusivity in the sharing of positions in the ruling party.
Zonal and state youth leaders of the party, yesterday, rejected the zoning arrangement of the National Working Committee, NWC, saying it was a recipe for chaos.
Deputy Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nebana at a briefing in Abuja warned the party not to zone the speakership to South-West or North-West, saying that doing so may rub off negatively on the party in 2023 elections.
Amid the crisis, some youth groups, opinion leaders and stakeholders in Niger Delta have thrown their weight behind incumbent Speaker, Yakubu Dogara to continue in office.
Buhari meets APC lawmakers-elect, party leaders
There was anxiety yesterday as President Buhari had a dinner meeting with APC lawmakers-elect; the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; and NWC officials at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The meeting was still on at press time.
Speculations are rife among members, especially various aspirants to the office of the Speaker of the 9th House that there would be a categorical statement by the power brokers in APC on who their preferred choices for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker would be.
In the race for the speakership are Mr Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos), Mohammadu Bago (Niger), Idris Wase (Plateau), John Dyegh (Benue), Nkiru Onyejiocha (Abia), Chike Okafor (Imo), Abdulrazaq Namdas, and Yusuf Yakub (Adamawa) among others.
Speculations within the House are that the meeting was summoned apparently to endorse the Lagos lawmaker. But Bago is making a case for the North-Central geo-political zone which he said has been marginalized since the return of democracy in 1999.
A statement by his campaign organisation on Monday warned against ceding the speakership to a zone that is already represented in the power allocation of the present government.
APC Youth leaders reject NWC’s micro zoning formula
Rising from a meeting in Abuja, the zonal and state youth leaders condemned the zoning arrangement, especially as it relates to the National Assembly, and called for an immediate reversal to a looming logjam.
The meeting, under the aegis of Forum of APC Youth Leaders also called for an immediate convocation of a meeting of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party where salient issues would be resolved as a way of saving the party from impending crisis.
In a communiqué at the end of the meeting by chairman of the forum, Terver Aginde, they said that the party’s NWC had undermined the independence of the legislature by imposing the micro-zoning formula without consultations.
“Whilst we agree with the initiative to determine National Assembly leadership within defined parameters of zoning and ranking to ensure stability and discipline within the ranks of the party, we must do so without undermining the independence of the legislature.
“We consider the micro zoning as a recipe for chaos, mindful of the experience of 2015. It is anomalous to have made a pronouncement on the position of the Senate Presidency and Speakership of the House of Representatives to the exclusion of other positions and other zones. The purported NWC decision is suspect; not even the respected and revered National Caucus of the APC comprising major stakeholders such as President Buhari, APC governors, party stalwarts and BOT members addressed the issue.
“We are curious to ask, for instance, how the decision was arrived at, who moved the motion for micro-zoning, who seconded the motion, who voted for micro-zoning and who was against micro-zoning. We dare ask, who is benefiting from this micro-zoning arrangement, an individual or party? Party members will be glad to see the minutes of the meeting where such decision was taken.”
All zones must be represented – Nabena
To Nabena, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, there must be equity in the zoning of principal offices in the 9th National Assembly, saying all geopolitical zones must be fairly represented both in the executive and legislative arms.
Calling for the exclusion of the North-West and South-West from the zoning of the Senate President and House Speaker as well as their deputies, he said with the president and vice president coming from the North-West and South-West respectively, the party’s leadership should ensure that the zoning arrangement for the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in the incoming 9th National Assembly reflects the remaining four geopolitical regions of the country.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, Nabena warned that if the party does not get it right now, 2023 elections might turn out to be a free for all, with its attendant electoral consequences.
“The APC has elected National Assembly members from all geopolitical zones of the country. Hence, the party’s leadership and indeed the presidency must make deliberate efforts to provide a fair and justifiable zoning arrangement for the 9th National Assembly leadership.’’
Nabena, however, recommended a zoning arrangement for the remaining positions.
“The Deputy Senate President should be zoned to the South-south while the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives should be zoned to the North-Central and South-East in any order agreed by the party’s leadership.”
N’Delta youths back Dogara for Speaker
Meanwhile, some youth groups, opinion leaders and stakeholders in Niger Delta have thrown their weight behind Dogara as the next Speaker.
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A prominent opinion leader, Dr Ufuoma Omakara, who made the disclosure, said the Niger Delta youth groups and stakeholders have embarked on strategic and systematic lobby of relevant personalities, including federal lawmakers from the oil-rich region to work towards the re-election of Dogara as Speaker.
He said: “The decision is part of resolutions reached at the special meeting of leaders of affiliate groups under the aegis of the Coalition of Niger-Delta Youth Groups and Stakeholders’ Forum, over the weekend.
“The decision to support Dogara was informed by his outstanding leadership qualities that saw the House remaining well-coordinated since 2015 when he assumed office as Speaker.
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“The Nigerian House of Representatives has neither seen such tranquillity, nor exhibited the diligence that has been its hallmark since the return to democracy in 1999, until the coming of the Dogara leadership, which gave a sense of belonging to the Green Chamber Lawmakers as well as brought pride to Nigerians.”