Nass Leadership: Aspirants Adamant Despite Apc’s Promise to Revisit Zoning

Fri May 12th, 2023 -

• We’ll disobey APC, Yari, Kalu, others declare
• APC North-Central rejects zoning Speaker to Northwest
• Umahi: Let’s hold fire, APC will address NASS controversy
• HURIWA queries EFCC over unconcluded probe on Akpabio

Just as it happened last year ahead of its presidential primary when the All Progressives Congress (APC) sidestepped its earlier endorsement of Senate President, Ahmad Lawan out of the 20 aspirants owing to the weight of opposition, the ruling party, yesterday, finally succumbed to the pressure being applied on it by aspirants jostling for principal offices of the National Assembly and other party stakeholders.
The decision followed a meeting between members of the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) and aspirants vying for the Senate President seat at the national secretariat in Abuja.
Three of the Senate President aspirants, Abdul’aziz Yari, Orji Uzor Kalu and Sani Musa attended the parley while Osita Izunaso who was indisposed sent in apologies. Despite assurances of a reset, the senators vowed to disobey the party’s directive to have Godswill Akpabio as the next Senate President.
In a letter jointly signed by the dissenting lawmakers, they asked the party to correct “its mistake or face the consequences,” warning that, while they have never violated the party, the leadership should brace themselves for a surprise on election day, because the disgruntled hopefuls will openly defy the party.
The parley came on the heels of similar protests by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, Muktar Betara and five other aspirants jostling for the seat of the Speaker of the House.
Adamu, who accepted responsibility over the misgivings on the zoning arrangement of the principal officers of the National Assembly, acknowledged that it was unfortunate aspirants for both upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly were not adequately consulted on the issue.
He promised to liaise with the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, the aspirants and critical stakeholders of the party in arriving at an amicable resolution before the inauguration of the National Assembly on June 13.
“As chairman of APC and members of the NWC, we take responsibility for what has gone out. We will go back to the drawing board. We owe our party that duty to take a look whether what was done can be changed; what was done needs some changes or reviews. We will take a look at it again.”
Continuing, he said: “Hold the fire until the last word is heard from us. We are the custodians of the party as NWC but we are not acting alone. The voice of the President-elect is an essential voice. We must accommodate him, the best we can.
“I will not compromise on that. So, he is right now outside the country and by the grace of God when he comes back, we will go back to the drawing board, put our heads together again and see what we will get.
“I cannot preempt that, I will wait until we hold that meeting with Mr President-elect. If we need to enlarge the committee, we will do so to be better informed through contributions that will be made.”
The aspirants, led by Yari, while formally presenting a letter signifying their rejection of the zoning arrangement, reiterated that the measure remains unjust and unacceptable to their respective geo-political zones.
Yari argued that the zoning arrangement, which ceded the Senate presidency to Godswill Akpabio, was in clear breach of the APC motto of peace, justice, and unity.
Claiming that the decision was a unilateral decision by the party, he warned that APC stands the risk of facing electoral reverses in future elections in the North if it sticks to its gun on the issue.
The former Zamfara State governor said: “APC will become history if the North is not allowed to produce the next Senate President.
“The President-elect got 63.4 per cent of his votes from the North. Where he came from in the South, he got 36.6 per cent. His closest challenger, Atiku Abubakar, from the North, got 68.8 per cent of his total vote from his region and Southern Nigeria gave him 33.2 per cent of his vote.
“So, now if there is anyone who can say we own APC; we own the President-elect in the North. Without undermining any part of the country, justice needs to be done.
“So, Mr. Chairman, we are not undermining what you are doing, but we are doing this in the best interest of the party, because if we from the North take another decision, it will not be good to all of us and it will become history, which we don’t want that to happen. Let’s write today’s date down, anything to the contrary, walahi, Northern Nigeria will take another decision.”
On the other hand, Kalu threatened not to obey the APC zoning arrangement if justice is not done to the Southeast, adding that it was incumbent for the party to ensure inclusion of the Southeast and even distribution of power, since the country is sitting on a tripod of three major ethnic groups: Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo.
He said: “We will not obey the party on the floor of the Senate. You must cede something reasonable to the Southeast. Penciling people’s names is undemocratic. We are going to challenge it. I am a party man. This is the first time we are saying No! This is not acceptable to us. We have 19 days to go. Better go back to the drawing board and rezone it.”
Sani Musa, who expressed readiness to step down for a Christian Senate President, called for the sharing of the principal officers’ seats to reflect the secular nature of the country. He argued that the North Central, which contributed more votes to the party than other geo-political zones of the country had been thoroughly shortchanged in the zoning arrangement.
“This injustice needs to be corrected. We have been shortchanged. We are pained. We are putting all the effort to make sure APC realised what we wanted. If you look at the statistics, we got five governors out of six, 11 senators out of 18, the margin between APC and PDP is a difference of over 400,000 votes, which we produced. What is the margin of difference between APC and PDP in the Northwest for it to have two slots in the four principal offices of the National Assembly?”

SIMILARLY, some APC chieftains in the North-Central zone have restated their strong reservations against the zoning template ratified by the NWC on Monday, which ceded the seat of Speaker of the 10th National Assembly to Northwest with Tajudeen Abass (Zaria Federal Constituency) as favoured candidate and Benjamin Kalu, representing Bende Federal Constituency, Abia (Southeast) as anointed candidate for Deputy Speaker.
Addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, Nuhu Ayuba Shikdima and Ahmadu Babanrabi, Chairman and Secretary, respectively, of the APC Equity and Justice Forum, North-Central zone, said the zoning of Deputy Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives to same Northwest zone was inimical to national cohesion.
The Forum further claimed that what played out at the APC National Caucus meeting was zoning to anointed candidates, not to geo-political zones. But the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has appealed to party stakeholders and aspirants to stop the uproar generated by the zoning arrangement, saying the controversy was not unexpected.
Speaking during the ongoing induction programme for elected members of the National Assembly yesterday in Abuja, the governor, who is also the Senator-elect of Ebonyi South Senatorial zone, said democracy is about resolving all emerging controversies.
“The position of our party has given rise to some unavoidable controversies. There is no position the party would have taken that will not attract criticism or controversy. I think that the party and our leadership are very capable and full of wisdom to resolve whatever might be the differences. I am very sure they are working on it.”

MEANWHILE, civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to come clear and tell Nigerians the outcome of its corruption investigation involving former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and ex-governor of Akwa Ibom State, Akpabio.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, expressed disappointment that despite the multiple allegations of heists of public money hanging around Akpabio, the ruling party found him fit as its preferred choice for the number three position of Senate President ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in June. 
The group recalled that weeks ago, EFCC asked Akpabio to turn himself in over corruption investigation but has suddenly gone mute since the politicking for the positions of the 10th Assembly began.
The EFCC asked Akpabio to “personally report” to the anti-graft agency on May 9. This was after the Senator shunned previous summons by the anti-graft agency in March and April.
The EFCC had begun a probe into the alleged theft of N108.1 billion of Akwa Ibom funds. The EFCC had detained Akpabio over the alleged fraud but later freed him. However, the anti-graft commission reopened Akpabio’s file as governor and minister weeks ago, invited him but kept mum despite that the Senate President hopeful did not honour the invitation by the anti-graft commission.
Onwubiko said: “We demand that the EFCC provide a straightforward response on the many corruption cases against Akpabio. Has EFCC granted pardon to Akpabio because Tinubu has handpicked him as Senate President even with multiple allegations of heists of public money? This is a bad precedent for the incoming government.”




source: Guardian