BY LAMI IBRAHIM
In reaction to the protests by aggrieved Senators and House of Representatives members, the party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the National Working Committee (NWC) may revisit the zoning formula.
He also said the protests have imposed on the party leadership the urgency of extensive consultations over zoning.
APC had on Monday zoned the Senate President to the Southsouth, Deputy Senate President to the Northwest, House Speaker to the Northwest and Deputy Speaker to Southeast.
Also, the ruling party endorsed Senator Godswill Akpabio for Senate President, Barau Jibrin for Deputy Senate President, Tajudeen Abbas for Speaker and Benjamin Kalu for Deputy Speaker.
Yesterday, aggrieved aspirants for Speaker – Idris Wase, Aliyu Betera and Yusuf Gagdi – visited the APC National Secretariat in Abuja to protest against zoning and endorsement.
Also, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu rejected the zoning of two principal offices to one zone. He urged the NWC to review its positions.
Senator Osita Izunaso, who is eying the Senate President, urged President Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect Bola Tinubu and Adamu to come up with an acceptable zoning formula in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
But, Abbas and Kalu, who had been nominated by the party, intensified their lobbying and mobilisation of House of Representatives members-elect from the Southeast ahead of next month’s inauguration of the National Assembly.
Wase complained about the micro-zoning of the presiding offices without consultation, urging the party to review its stand.
He came in the company with other aspirants: Sani Jaji (Zamfara), Yusuf Gagdyi (Plateau), Muktar Betera (Bornu), Mariam Onuoha (Imo) and Sada Soli (Kastina).
Also on the entourage were Femi Bamishile (Ekiti), Abubakar Hassan (Nasarawa) and Ahmed Jaha (Borno).
Rejecting the formula, Wase said: “While we are expecting the zoning arrangement, we heard that the offices had been micro-zoned. None of us was consulted. We only heard that a list has been produced on TV. It is unfortunate. This is one party that enjoys the support of Nigerians.
“We feel betrayed as if our contributions are not recognised as if we are not members of this party. We don’t know what the party is turning out to be.”
Wase added: “Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila called for a meeting of the aspirants for consensus. I challenged him that he was working for a candidate. The Speaker alone cannot produce the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
“I don’t want to believe that Tinubu is behind this.
Mr. Chairman, we have worked for the party. We are here to protest and to appeal to you that what has been released would not stand.”
Commending the lawmakers, Adamu assured that the NWC will look into their request.
He said: “We have listened to you. We don’t intend to open discussions right now with you in respect of your submissions until we agree we are going to change. If we don’t agree, we would not change.
“Like some of you who listened to a release from this office, we did say very clearly, that we would endeavour to do more consultations so that we can carry with us the greater number of the members of our great party.
“There is nothing we do that may not be challenged here and there. But, we should consult with people, giving them their right to a fair hearing before we can say, yes, we are changing positions or we are not changing positions.
“So, I want to thank you for coming. And you didn’t come with this kind of ‘wuruwuru’ underground, but you chose to come very openly, very straight in broad daylight. The stakeholders are more than the National Working Committee here. Nigerians will hear better what we have just said.
“I plead with you in good conscience to give us a little time to take a good and better look at your presentation and open our ears and our eyes more to hear more and see more before we can come up with the finality of your submission and the outcome of it. I thank you for your approach.”
Akeredolu rejects zoning
Akeredolu faulted the zoning formula, saying the contents, intentions and motives represented early signs of steps aimed at caging the hard-earned Tinubu Presidency by a few individuals with eyes on Aso Rock power buttons.
Akeredolu, in a statement he personally signed in Akure, said it stood logic on the head that the Northwest region would be favoured with two presiding officers out of four while the Northcentral was left to suffer the consequences of its innocence and loyalty by having none.
He said: “The move to zone the National Assembly leadership positions at the behest of interested personalities with perceived closeness to the President-elect, lays the dangerous foundation of distrust, needless suspicion even as it structures nothing but a combination of booby traps. We must avoid all these.
“Let the North play a stronger, more robust and all-inclusive role in the emergence of the positions zoned to the region, especially the Speakership.
“Furthermore, it strikes a huge ingratitude that the role of the Progressive Governors Forum appears unimportant.
“As leaders of the party in their respective states, there cannot be a greater disservice to them that a consensus was yet to be reached when the NWC hurriedly released a dangerous tool for the opposition in the guise of a zoning formula. To me, even on this note, it’s unacceptable.
“Does it not also exude a serious discomfort that the aspirants to the Speakership were not consulted, approached and effectively engaged before the purported zoning formula? It does, and clearly so.”
He added: “It is in this regard that I salute the courage of the Speakership aspirants for their show of solidarity, companionship and applaudable love for the party in their rejection, resentment and objection to the brazenly teleguided zoning arrangement that is skewed and targeted against some zones and identified individuals.
“Their action is commendable just as they are urged to ensure they pursue this to a logical conclusion. This is an unworkable arrangement that reinforces injustice and enhances inequity, and I join them in rejecting this zoning formula.”