There is no end in sight to the crisis engulfing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, as key stakeholders have been simmering with resentment since Monday, when the party announced its nominees for key positions in the federal legislature.
Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum and governor of Ondo State, rejected the proposed zoning formula on Wednesday, stating that it is blatantly biassed, unjust, and biassed against certain zones and individuals.
Some aspirants to the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives and several members-elect also warned the APC National Working Committee (NWC) and other party stakeholders to prepare for a repeat of the 2015 scenario should the party allow the released zoning formula to stand. In 2015, senators and representatives elected their own independent candidates for key positions in the two divisions of the National Assembly, defying the choices of the ruling party.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase, said the APC leadership betrayed the lawmakers by deciding on the nominations without appropriate consultation with members. Wase insisted the zoning would not stand.
Equally, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) warned that any attempt to impose a leadership on the National Assembly would be vigorously opposed.
But the APC consensus candidate for House Speaker, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, said efforts were being made to pacify co-aspirants, who were aggrieved by the decision of the party.
Nonetheless, one of the aspirants to the 10th Senate presidency, Senator Osita Izunaso, insisted his aspiration was in the best interest of the country, and he was in the race to win.
The APC leadership had on Monday officially confirmed the endorsement of a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godwill Akpabio, (from Akwa Ibom State in South-south) for Senate President, and Tajudeen Abbas (from Kaduna State in North-west) for Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Announcing the zoning formula, after a NWC meeting in Abuja, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, also confirmed the endorsement of Senator Barau Jubrin (North-west) as Deputy Senate President, and Ben Kalu (South-east) as Deputy Speaker of the House.
However, not satisfied with the proposed zoning, Akeredolu, in a statement he personally signed, characterised the zoning plan as a skewed and unworkable arrangement that reinforced injustice and enhanced inequity.
The statement, titled, “Proposed APC Zoning Formula for NASS Leadership Positions is a Skewed Arrangement that Reinforces Injustice and Enhances Inequity,” read, “It is with great concern, and, indeed, with a huge burden that I read in the news of the purported zoning arrangement released by the National Working Committee of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as regards the leadership positions in the yet-to-be inaugurated National Assembly.
The contents, intentions, and motives of the zoning formula represent early indications of attempts to thwart the hard-won presidency of our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, by a handful of individuals with their eyes on ASO ROCK POWER BUTTONS.
“It is trite to aver that it stands logic on the head that one geo-political zone, North-west, in this regard, will be favoured with two presiding officers’ positions out of four while North-central suffers the consequences for its innocence and astute loyalty by having none.
“It is an insidious permutation that the North-east will be deprived in the face of the unsavoury generosity dispensed through two positions to a particular geo-political zone. Therefore, it is self-defeating to contend that the Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot come from the Northeast.”
Akeredolu alleged that the move to zone the National Assembly leadership positions on the behest of interested personalities with perceived closeness to the president-elect manifestly laid a dangerous foundation of distrust, needless suspicion, and structures nothing but a combination of booby traps, which the party must avoid.
The governor stated, “Let the North play a stronger, more robust, and more inclusive role in the development of positions zoned to the region, particularly the speakership.” Furthermore, the insignificance of the Progressive Governors Forum’s role is shockingly impolite.
“As party leaders in their respective states, they could not have been done a greater disservice by the NWC’s hasty release of a dangerous opposition weapon disguised as a zoning formula before a consensus was reached. Even on this note, I find it reprehensible.
“Does it not also exude a significant discomfort that the aspirants to the speakership were not consulted, approached and effectively engaged before the purported zoning formula? Clearly, this holds true.
“In this regard, I salute the bravery of the aspirants for the speakership for their display of solidarity, companionship, and commendable love for the party in their rejection, resentment, and objection to the brazenly teleguided zoning arrangement, which is skewed and targeted against specific zones and individuals.
“Their action is commendable, and they are strongly encouraged to see it through to a logical conclusion. This is an untenable arrangement that exacerbates injustice and inequity, and I agree with them in their rejection of this zoning formula.”
Akeredolu urged the party’s NWC to pursue the path of righteousness and purity. He instructed Tinubu to investigate the lopsided arrangement and provide guidance that reflected the party’s commitment to equality and fairness.
He stated, “In this instance, and in order to prevent a recurrence of unfavourable circumstances, it is recommended that the APC NWC immediately convene the National Executive Committee (NEC) after a robust National Caucus/Stakeholders dialogue in order to reach an agreement on terms that would strengthen our great party.”