An All Progressives Congress senator-elect, Shehu Sani, has warned the party of the danger posed by the delay in adopting a zoning formula for the office the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, warning that the Peoples Democratic Party might hijack the process to its advantage.
He gave the warning in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday.
The APC, which will form the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is yet to zone the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House as well as their deputies, barely three weeks to the inauguration of the 5th session of the National Assembly.
There are however speculations that the party might zone the Senate Presidency to either the North Central or North East zones while the office of the Speaker might go to the South West.
Consequently, a former governor of Kwara State and a former governor of Benue State, George Akume, as well as Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State are campaigning for the position.
All three are ranking senators of the All Progressives Congress.
There is no elected APC senator from the South East and South-South zones although the party’s national chairman hails from the latter.
The president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, is from the North West while his deputy hails from the South West.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview on Thursday, Mr. Sani, who will represent Kaduna Central Senatorial District, said the failure of the party to determine which zone should produce the presiding officers is not only giving the PDP confidence that it could negotiate for anything, but has also divided the APC senators, both serving and incoming.
He said, “There are three consequences of this delay. First, it has divided the APC senators and members of the House of Representatives into different camps. This is dangerous because the implication is that we may have a divided house.
“Secondly, it is building acrimony, discontent and suspicion among the APC members and as a result the interest of the party is becoming secondary.
“Thirdly, the PDP is using this division to extract commitment from the contestants. That is to say if they back a candidate and if the candidate wins they will get what under normal circumstance they don’t deserve.”
Mr. Sani said the race for the National Assembly seat is being influenced by some external forces in readiness for the 2019 general elections, stressing “what you see now is the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau.”
He stated that some of the candidates are already making claims of being backed by some top party leaders, including that of Mr. Buhari.
He however expressed joy that the statement by the president-elect in which he said he was ready to work with anybody elected as the presiding office of any of the chambers had put to rest speculations that he (Buhari) was backing a particular candidate for the Senate Presidency.
He added, “I think the problem with the selection of the leadership of the National Assembly is the problem of politics of 2019. There are forces outside the Senate that are interested in the leadership that will control the Senate for their own interest.
“The division within the APC and the refusal of APC to be categorical on zoning is giving the PDP the confidence to do things and blackmail it.
“APC must put its house in order or else we may end up with a poisonous choice. Somebody has to call the three contestants and sit them down to sort things out.
Mr. Sani explained that although the APC was yet to zone the National Assembly positions, he and some other senators-elect on the party’s platform, attended the meeting convened by Mr. Saraki, on Tuesday night because they were free to associate with anybody.
At the meeting were the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and senator-elect from Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, and the other two senators from the state, Bassey Albert and Nelson Effiong, Andy Uba from Anambra State, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State and senator-elect for Abia Central Senatorial District and Shehu Sani from Kaduna Central Senatorial District.
“For now since the party has not zoned it, it means that any senator is free to attend any meeting or multiple meetings,” he said.
“If the party makes its position known, there are people who will naturally step down from the race. A lot of heat is being built by the contestants. The APC in the National Assembly is divided. Once the party makes its position known the activities will be gravitated towards the zone.”
Meanwhile, the National Chairman, John Oyegun, said there was nothing to worry about the delay in making official pronouncement on the zoning formula for the National Assembly position.
“There is nothing to worry about,” he said. “The party is in charge. The party knows what to do. It is a hard won victory and no member hand over this victory to another person.”
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