Aggrieved aspirants in the race for the seat of Senate President in the 10th National Assembly on Thursday threatened to disobey the micro-zoning arrangement adopted by the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The senators, who registered their grievances at a meeting with the leadership of the party and members of the National Working Committee, disclosed that no aspirant was consulted before the official decision was taken.
Among other things, they warned that if the APC leadership fails to restrict the zoning arrangement to geopolitical regions, it could lead to open rebellion because the aggrieved aspirants will brazenly disobey the party.
The lawmakers in attendance were former Zamfara Governor, Abdulaziz Yari; the senator-elect representing Imo West, Osita Izunaso; Sani Musa (Niger East), Umar Sadiq (Kwara North) and Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, who recently lost his wife.
The development is coming three days after the ruling party had micro-zoned the Senate president position to immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwin Akpabio while Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau, was named as his would-be Deputy Senate President in the 10th Assembly.
In the Green Chamber, the seat of Speaker of the House of Representatives was zoned to popular Kaduna lawmaker, Tajudeen Abass, while the rep-elect from South East clinched the Deputy Speaker slot.
Addressing the NWC members, Musa argued that when it comes to rewarding regions for votes and electoral victory, the North cannot be overlooked because of its massive contributions.
The senator-elect for Niger East told the leadership of the party not to push its luck further, saying an internal democracy would have produced the needed consensus candidates it seeks.
He stated, “There are certain times we should not push our luck. The NWC had a meeting with Mr President-elect. I respect Mr. President-elect. He is a tactical politician. He knows every inch of it. He will be able to listen to whatever an organ like APC will bring to him. Whatever anyone will tell him. He will want to aggregate his views. We have been saying that the status quo cannot continue but if we do not allow internal democracy to prosper, how do we expect to change things? I am very sure you will go back and take a look, especially when we are talking about internal democracy because even the issue of the national assembly is an issue of internal democracy.
His position was further re-echoed by Yari, another aspirant of northern extraction.
The senator told the NWC members and the leadership of the party that a level playing field should be given to everybody including northern senators to determine their fate.
Yari said, “Mr. Chairman, we have been in this game and we understand it very well. It is all about the dialogue. We are expecting that you give us at least a fair play. Now if you look at the calculation of what we have in the Senate, it is not magic.
“Mr. Chairman, we are not undermining what you are doing. We are doing this for the sake of the party to grow. If we from the North take another decision, it will not be good. It will become history and we don’t want that to happen. Anything from the contrary, Walahi, northern Nigeria will take another decision.”
Kalu, a two-term governor of Abia State, also made a case for the region, saying that penciling down names of favored aspirants was undemocratic.
He warned that it would be wrong for anybody to fault his people in the South East for not coming to the party during the presidential election for obvious reasons.
The senator further argued federal character and not votes should be a major consideration when sharing political and legislative offices in the country.
According to him, if the current micro-zoning arrangement is not reviewed, they would be forced to disobey the ruling party position ahead of the inauguration.
He said, “I appeal to you people to cede something reasonable and valuable to the South East. Four years is like four days when it comes to elections. I am not saying that what you people have done does not look very nice. But it is wrong to micro-zone individuals and pencil people’s names. It is undemocratic and against the constitutional rights of all the aspirants. Section 51 of the Constitution did not approve that for the National Assembly.
“We are going to challenge and say no to it. I am a party man. I have never disobeyed this party. This is the first time we are going to say no to the directive of the party. We are going to say that we are not going to do this on the floor of the Senate. This is unacceptable to us. I will not want to do it and I will not want to disrespect the party. It is still early enough with about 18 to 19 days to resolve it. It will be better that the party returns to the drawing board, deliberate, and call a consultative meeting.”
Adamu appeals for calm
Reacting to the complaints, the National Chairman of the ruling party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, called on the aggrieved aspirants to be patient and allow the party to consult again with the president-elect and other stakeholders.
The APC chair also admitted that the issue could have been better managed if all the aspirants were carried along just as he told some disgruntled aspirants of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
He said, “Hold the fire until the last word is heard from us. We are the custodians of the party as NWC but we are not acting alone. The voice of the president-elect is an essential voice. We must accommodate him as best we can. I will not compromise on that. He is right now outside the country. By the grace of God, when he comes back we will go back to the drawing board and put our heads together again to see what we will get. I cannot preempt that. I will wait until we hold that meeting with Mr. president-elect and the same team we had a meeting with. If we need to enlarge the committee, we will do so. We will be better informed through contributions that we will be made.”