Friday, May 15, 2015

We won’t impose Senate President, Speaker; but we’ll use ‘zoning’ – APC

The All Progressives Congress has said it has not discarded the principle of zoning in determining the leadership of the National Assembly, but assured it will not impose anybody for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The National Chairman of the party, John Oyegun, stated this while clarifying the position of the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on the choice of the presiding officers of both chambers of the National Assembly.
Mr. Oyegun said the party would merely guide the Senators and the House of Representatives on where to choose their leaders from, but would not be involved in the process of who deciding who becomes what.

Mr. Buhari had in a statement on Wednesday, said he was ready to work with anybody who emerges as the senate president or the speaker of the House of Representatives.

The remarks fuelled speculations the party may be discarding the zoning principle, to allow the lawmakers choose from any part of the country.

“What General Muhammadu Buhari said does not contradict our position on the zoning of the offices,” Mr. Oyegun told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview Thursday.

“What is certain is that members of the Senate and the House of Representations are the only one who can choose their leaders. We are going to advise them on where they will choose their leaders for obvious reasons. Then it is for them to choose their leaders.

“The party cannot name people for them, but for the sake of balancing we will advise them on where they should choose their leaders.”

Speaking against the background of Kano State Governor and Senator-elect, Rabiu Kwankwanso’s expressed fear that APC may lose the leadership of the National Assembly to the Peoples Democratic Party as it continues to dilly-dally over the subject, Mr. Oyegun said there it would be impossible for PDP take over the legislative arm of government.

APC will not allow it, he assured.

The APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, said the party has not made any decision on zoning as far as positions of National Assembly leaders are concerned.

“As of now, I am telling you officially that we (APC) have no position on zoning,” Mr. Mohammed said.

Also, one of the leading contenders for the position of speaker who asked that he should not be mentioned, told this newspaper that he was confident the leadership of the party would conclude on zoning next Monday or Tuesday, thereby confirming Mr. Mohammed’s position that the party has no decision on zoning yet.

Meanwhile, different individuals in the party hierarchy said the party had concluded on its decision concerning zoning.

They, however, differed in terms of which zone takes what.

A member of the APC National Executive Committee, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the party had concluded on zoning.

According to this source, the positions of the Senate President and the House Speaker go to the North Central and North East respectively and that “those promoting the propaganda that South-West has the speaker are Gbajabiamila people.”

On the contrary, two members of the House of Representatives, Abdullahi Garba and Aliyu Madaki, said that with the information they had but which had not been made public yet, the party had concluded on zoning.

While Mr. Madaki only said the South-West had been given the position of speaker, Mr. Garba said the position of speaker and senate president had been zoned to the South-West and North-East respectively.

They argued that it is not possible for the North to have the positions of the President of the country, president of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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