Despite not producing any ranking All Progressives Congress senator or member of the House of Representatives for the 8th National Assembly, the South-East geopolitical zone is seeking to succeed Mr. Aminu Tambuwal as the Speaker of the next House.
A Coalition of South-East Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Movement, on Wednesday called on the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari and the APC’s leadership not to exclude the zone from the sharing of principal offices of the National Assembly.
The group said in Abuja that the APC should endeavour to carry all the geo-political zones of the country along.
The Coordinator of the group, Mr. John Ekeanyanwu, argued that the South-East was an important stakeholder in the development of Nigeria as any other zone, adding that leaving it out in the power sharing arrangement could be counter-productive in the years ahead.
Ekeanyanwu specifically asked that the zone should be allowed to produce the Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives.
He said there were many Igbo people who contributed their time and resources to the overall victory of the party at the recently-concluded general elections.
The group added, “It is noteworthy that the South-East cannot be totally left out in the leadership composition of the 8th National Assembly, most especially in the House of Representatives where we have honourable members elected on the platform of the APC from the South-East.
“We urge and appeal to the National leadership of the APC that as they meet to ratify the zoning arrangement, to consider strongly the South-East for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the spirit of the principles of federal character, equity, justice and fair play.”
There are two APC lawmakers from Imo State who are first timers and by House rules, are not qualified to hold leadership positions.
The PUNCH learnt that the race for the speakership had long narrowed down to the South-West and the North-East, only awaiting official confirmation by the National Executive Committee of the APC.
However, the South-South zone has also been pushing for the position or at least the Deputy Speaker of the House, having produced two ranking APC members, Mr. Pally Iriase and Mr. Peter Akpatason.
Iriase has since intensified campaign for the position, but House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila (South-West); and Chairman, Committee on House Services, Mr. Yakubu Dogara (North-East), are considered to top the chart.
The PUNCH gathered on Wednesday that some influential figures in the APC had reportedly resolved to zone the speakership to the South-West, having agreed that the North-East should produce the Senate President.
“This arrangement, if confirmed, will leave Dogara out to either settle for deputy speaker or contest the election against the zoning formula of his party.
“We also have Mr. Abdulmumini Jibrin, who is in the race, even though his zone (North-West) has not been in the calculations”, one National Assembly official told The PUNCH