From Taiwo Amodu, Abuja
AS the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) continues its trouble-shooting initiative to address the war of attrition among its members in the National Assembly over allocation of principal officers, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) appears set for similar crisis.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that certain stalwarts of the party are pushing for different candidates for the office of Senate Minority Leader.
The main opposition party had last month announced the zoning of minority positions in both chambers of the National Assembly.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh who spoke with newsmen at the end of the National Working Committee meeting announced the zoning of the Senate Minority Leader to South-south, the North Central would produce Minority Whip while Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip would come from the North-east and South-west respectively. In the House of Representatives, the party said it accepted the choice of the members who have already chosen Leo Ogor from South-south as Minority Leader.
Metuh, however, said the North-west would produce the Minority Whip while the positions of Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip were zoned to South-east and North-east, respectively.
He further said the party expects that in accordance with the provision of the Standing Rules of the National Assembly, members would use their various zonal party caucuses to chose party principal officers to enable PDP provide effective opposition in the National Assembly.
“We have directed them to note that in accordance with the practice and convention of our party, the nomination process should take into consideration ranking, gender and religious sensitivities,” Metuh said. Further investigation revealed that ahead of today’s resumption of the
National Assembly, the slot of Senate Minority Leader zoned to the South-south has been the cause of disaffection among senators and party chieftains from the zone. A party source revealed that former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the Rivers State governor, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have endorsed former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio for the position, having sought and got the blessing of deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Also in the race is Senator George Sekibo, who has been penciled for
the office but has now been left in the cold following the sudden endorsement of Akpabio. But those backing Senator Sekibo are flaunting the Senate Rules, which they claimed favour their candidate as against Senator Akpabio. Sekibo is a ranking lawmaker while Akpbabio is a first time.
A senator from the South-south zone noted that the brewing crisis was capable of weakening the PDP ahead of its role as a viable opposition party in the years ahead.
“We are seeing the APC crisis now, ours is also in the making because before July 21, if we too don’t sort ourselves out, we can at best say that what is capable of weakening the PDP ahead of its role as a viable opposition party in the years ahead may have been planted.
“We all thought the issue of Senate Minority Leader has been laid to rest until the DSP (Deputy Senate President) called us for a meeting in his house where he sought peoples opinion on the propriety or otherwise of selecting Senator Ita Enang for the position.
“I think it was from there the former Akwa Ibom governor got the feeling that if the matter has to be revisited, then he would take a shot at it, but he doesn’t know that his ambition is against the rules of the senate as regards the selection of its principal officers.
“Before then, we were all facing the challenge of the suggestion by the former president and his wife that we should consider Sekibo who is from Rivers state but the duo of Ekweremadu and Wike kicked against it.
“From all indications, if we don’t step in on time, our earlier decision to back James Manager may fail because you know what money can do in politics; we can’t say money won’t work in this circumstance. Although Akpabio has argued that both Manager and the House Minority Leader-designate (Leo Ogor), being from Delta state, cannot hold the two positions simultaneously, we have also told him that since the PDP is in unusual circumstances, we can allow that to fly.’’
But a party source disclosed to Daily Sun that the chances of Akpabio is bright, as he could leverage on his warm relationship with the PDP national leadership and some of his former colleagues across the party divide who are now in the Red Chamber.
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