By Lami Ibrahim
Ahead of the formal zoning of Presiding and Principal offices in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the President-elect, Senator Bola Tinubu and his Vice, Senator Kashim Shettima will be holding a marathon meeting with leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, outgoing Governors and Governors- elect of the party to brainstorm on the matter.
The National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is expected to lead members of the National Working Committee, NWC to the meeting.
It was gathered that the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila will lead other Presiding and principal offices of the National Assembly to the meeting as part of moves to brainstorm on the zoning formula.
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that some ranking Senators from the South West are out to threaten the zoning arrangement.
According to the source, the meeting which is ongoing at the moment in Abuja is to finalise the zoning arrangements for the National Assembly leadership positions.
It was also gathered that the presence of Senators Godswill Akpabio, Barau Jibrin, Opeyemi Bamidele, Solomon Adeola, Tokunbo Abiru and the Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji around the President-elect on his return to Nigeria, was creating fears among other lawmakers.
Recall that their presence coincided with the arrival of the APC National Chairman and Secretary, Senators Abdullahi Adamu and Iyiola Omisore with other NWC members of the party to Tinubu’s residence, even as it was being misunderstood that the President-Elect and the APC were already holding meetings with aspirants for the National Assembly leadership positions.
According to a source at the Tuesday meeting, the President-Elect was said to have told the APC chiefs on the occasion that they should consider a Christian from the South-South geopolitical zone to be Senate President while the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be zoned to the North-West.
Tinubu met the senators individually and told them what he had discussed with the party hierarchy.
The source said, “It was at that stage that Jibrin, who is contesting the Senate President position came outside the meeting to discuss with duo of Senators Bamidele and Adeola. Jibrin was told by his colleagues to take things easy as they could help him to prevail on Asiwaju Tinubu.
“Jibrin, who had arrived Tinubu’s residence as early as 9 am, had the opportunity of meeting with the President-Elect for a second time where he offered to be Deputy Senate President.”
At the meeting, was gathered that Senator Opeyemi Bamidele was endorsed by his colleagues to be the Senate Leader while Senator Adeola would be Chairman of Appropriations and Abiru was tipped as Chairman of, Committee on Banking, Insurance and other financial institutions, just as the source further said that Tinubu had asked them to meet with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan so that he could champion the Akpabio/Barau Senate Presidency campaign.
The source said, “Tinubu had earlier put a call across to Lawan to see him on the matter and it was reliably gathered that the Senate President told the President-Elect that it would be difficult to market an Akpabio who allegedly denigrated the 8th Senate by forcing his way to be the minority leader as a first timer, and also accused the NASS members of receiving huge amounts of money from NDDC to approve the Commission’s budget.
“Lawan was also said to have reminded Tinubu that Akpabio was allegedly instrumental to the imprisonment of a serving member of the 9th Senate, Senator Bassey Akpan.”
Not satisfied with the response from the Senate President, the Senators, according to the source, headed straight to Lawan’s residence in the dead of the night to convince him so that he could change his mind but they did not succeed.
The source said, “It was at that stage that all of them except Barau headed straight to the house of the Kaduna State Governor-Elect, Uba Sani, who also told them that the North had agreed that the position of the Speaker would go to the North West while the North Central would have the Deputy Senate President as a measure to check any rebellion.
“Sen. Uba Sani told his guests that there was no way the position of the Deputy Senate President would go to the North West which has already been asked to produce the Speaker.”
The source who is a returning Senator from the South-West expressed the fears that the desperate moves by the senators might jeopardise the APC zoning arrangements on the floor of the Senate on the day of inauguration as there could be a possibility of a second nomination.
Another new Senator-elect from the North West also who buttressed what the source had disclosed, said: “Since it is the senators-elect that would vote, it is necessary for the leadership of the APC to take full charge of the zoning arrangements and prevent any desperate aspirant from scuttling the process.”