The ongoing crisis surrounding the All Progressives Congress (APC) zoning template for the leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly (NASS) has taken a deeper turn.
Bellnewsonline.com reports that the North-Central Governors’ Forum and members of the National Assembly have expressed their strong opposition to the exclusion of the North-Central zone from the allocation of principal officers in the legislature.
In response to this exclusion, they have resolved to hold meetings with President-elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to convey their grievances and concerns.
Meanwhile, the aspirants for the speakership position who feel aggrieved have vowed to take their battle to the plenary today. Additionally, some of these aspirants have begun new efforts to undermine each other’s chances.
The meeting held at the Banquet Hall in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, and was attended by prominent figures such as Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak of Kwara State, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nassarawa State, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, the Governor-elect of Benue State, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Idris Wase, Senator Mohammed Musa, and Mr Yusuf Gagdi.
Following the meeting, Chairman and Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, stated, “The meeting reviewed the proposed zoning structure released and promised to reach out to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the APC National Working Committee to appeal for reconsideration of the zoning of the Presiding offices of the National Assembly as released by the NWC.”
He further added, “The meeting discussed the zoning as released and raised reservations with the allocation of the positions of the Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th National Assembly to a particular geopolitical zone of the country. The meeting resolved and agreed to fully utilize all necessary dialogue and consultations to resolve the NASS leadership issue. They all agreed to reach out to all major stakeholders for an amicable and acceptable zoning framework that will be all-inclusive.”
The upcoming plenary session is expected to be contentious, with members of the House of Representatives prepared to probe the circumstances surrounding the amendment of the House Standing Rules, particularly in relation to the election of the speaker and deputy speaker, Vanguard reports.
A source within the lower chamber disclosed, “There are two major issues likely to take center stage: the possible probe of the House Committee Chairman on NDDC, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, who is alleged to be involved in dubious dealings within the NDDC, and the controversial issue of unapproved amendments to our Standing Rules.”
The source also expressed confidence in the independence of the lower chamber, stating, “We are closely monitoring their actions. If the Senators choose to compromise and yield to pressure from Tinubu’s camp, that is their problem. We belong to the lower chamber, and as an opposition member, I am not concerned about their actions.”
The source continued, “For the House of Representatives, they know how stubborn we are and they know too that whoever is speaker will unravel all that had transpired in the NDDC especially as their boy, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo is the chairman.
“So, the best thing, in their thinking, is to stop Wase, Betara, Soli, Jaji and Gadgi. They know Abbas, as their puppet, cannot allow such probe. Is that good for the people of the Niger Delta region where I hail from?
“How would they want me to be happy and join them to commit this havoc against my people and expect me to support their candidate who will do their bidding? They all know these issues so they have to work hard but the day of inauguration will show a different House of Representatives.
“All those signatures are political survival moves, we have done it so it doesn’t matter how many they gather because in 2015, we got more than 200 yet Gbaja lost, he scored less than 170.
“And because they know members will be very independent on the day of inauguration, Gbaja and his boys have gone ahead to insert open ballot by shouting the names of our preferred choice for speaker as if we are babies.
“On that one, we shall wait and see what happens tomorrow (today) on the floor of the House. We will check our proceedings and once we confirm any point of perjury and forgery, Nigerians will hear from us.”
In the Senate, loyalists of President-elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu have reportedly initiated moves to counter the actions of a Senate ad hoc committee that is set to investigate Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Recall that Senator Akpabio has received the endorsement of the APC NWC and Tinubu for the position of Senate President.
The outgoing Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had recently initiated a probe into alleged questionable unapproved expenditures in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) during Akpabio’s tenure as its supervisor.