Home Nigeria APC’s NWC Names Akpabio for Senate President, Abass for Speaker

APC’s NWC Names Akpabio for Senate President, Abass for Speaker

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The National Working Committee (NWC) of All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, nominated former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, for Senate President, and Hon. Tajudeen Abass from Kaduna State for Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The nominations, which followed a consensus deal, confirmed weeks of speculation that the ruling party had zoned the 10th National Assembly’s senate presidency to South-south and Speaker of the House of Representatives to North-west. The agreement also covered other principal positions in the bicameral federal legislature.

But a group of protesters, under the umbrella of APC North-central stakeholders, stormed the national secretariat of the party yesterday, alleging marginalising of the North-central in the zoning of National Assembly leadership positions. They demanded zoning of House Speaker to North-central.

Similarly, a cross-section of senators-elect from different political parties rejected external influence in the election of presiding officers for the 10th National Assembly.

The incoming senators’ position came as Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, wrote personal letters to members of the APC NWC and the 108 senators-elect, informing them of his intention to vie for senate president.

Meanwhile, opposition members-elect of the House of Representatives put together an 11-man committee to shortlist, screen, and recommend aspirants for Speaker and Deputy Speakership of the lower chamber.

The APC leadership reached a resolution on the two key offices in the National Assembly following a meeting of the NWC, held yesterday at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja. The meeting started about 12:30pm and ended about 3:20pm.

Briefing journalists afterwards, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, said the NWC reached a compromise on the zoning arrangement for the 10th National Assembly.

Morka said, “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met today, Monday, May 8, 2023 to consider reports of consultations and meetings held with the president-elect, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, other party leaders and stakeholders on zoning arrangement for 10th National Assembly leadership positions.

“The NWC noted with respect the outcome of the meetings held between the president-elect and the leadership of the NWC. The NWC called for further and better consultation with necessary stakeholders in order to assure the support of the aspirants to the National Assembly leadership positions and members of the party nationwide.

“The zoning arrangement reported to the NWC is as follows: Senate President: South-south, Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Deputy Senate President: North-west, Senator Barau Jubrin (Kano); Speaker, House of Representatives, North-west, Hon. Abass Tajudeen (Kaduna); Deputy Speaker, South-east, Hon. Ben Kalu (Abia).

“We urge our party leaders, members, and all Nigerians to continue to work for peace and progress of our country during and beyond the current period of leadership transition.”

Protesters Storm APC Secretariat, Demand Speaker for North-central

A group of protesters, under the aegis of APC North-central stakeholders, yesterday, stormed the national secretariat of the party, where they accused the ruling party of marginalising the zone in the allocation of National Assembly leadership positions.

Addressing journalists on behalf of the group, Salihu Ibrahim, said the North-central had contributed immensely to the success of APC. Ibrahim wondered why the zone was left out in the scheme of things.

The protesters carried placards bearing various inscriptions, such as, “North Central demands leadership positions”; “President-elect be fair and just to Nigerians”; and “We demand equity, fairness and justice”. Other inscriptions included, “APC NWC do the right thing”; “Asiwaju is against imposition”; “We say no to imposition of Speaker”; and “Nigerians are against imposition”.

According to Ibrahim, “The party has not taken the North-central into consideration and it is outrageous. We, the North-central, have contributed largely to the development of APC and up till date we are still on it.

“Why is it that the National Assembly Speaker is something that elected president Asiwaju, under the watch of Abdullahi Adamu, who is even from the North-central will not wholeheartedly say the North-central should take? The party should zone it to us.”

Ibrahim stressed, “We are asking that the speaker of the 10th Assembly should be zone to North0central. That is what we want for now. The 10th Assembly speakership should be zone to North-central if they can’t give us the Senate President.”

At Induction, Senators-elect Reject Imposition of Candidates

A wide cross-section of senators-elect from various political parties, yesterday, rejected external influence in the election of their presiding officers.

They spoke in separate interviews with journalists at the induction programme organised for them by the National Assembly management, in collaboration with the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.

The senators-elect insisted that the only way to really achieve full independence of the parliament was to follow the constitutional provisions on the emergence of presiding officers.

In his submissions, Senator-elect Ned Nwoko, representing Delta North Senatorial District on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said members of the 10th Senate would reject any attempt by the executive to pocket the legislature.

Nwoko said, “The overwhelming majority of the senators-elect are of the opinion that we must be independent. That is the only way we can take the executive to account. The parliament is not meant to be pocketed by the executive. There are some of us that are already well-established before we came here. So, we are not pushovers. We are very independent minded.”

Senator-elect Abdulraham Kawu Samaila, a former minority leader of the House of Representatives, now representing Kano South on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), maintained that any attempt to impose presiding officers on the 10th National Assembly would fail.

Samaila stated, “On the issue of the senate presidency, we should follow the constitution. There is a clear and express provision in the constitution, which allows members of the National Assembly to choose their presiding officers among themselves, irrespective of party affiliation, religious or ethnic considerations.”

However, Akpabio said he was not bothered by the rejection of zoning arrangements by some senators- elect. The former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs said, “Justice has been done at the end of the day in terms of balancing the political equation of the country to ensure peaceful tenure for the incoming president.”

On the issue of some aggrieved APC aspirants, allegedly, forming alliances with opposition political parties, Akpabio said he was not worried about that because disagreement was a normal legislative practice.

He said, “I am not worried at all. It is a normal thing. I always described politics as a game of concentric circle of conspiracy. I am not worried about anything. I believe strongly that the will of God will be done.

“My colleagues would decide my fate on the floor during the inauguration. The senators-elect would take a decision. The lawmakers would elect the next Senate President. I believe that there should be cooperation between the parties and the lawmakers.

“Once the leadership is put in place, there should be collaboration between the leadership and the parliament to ensure a smooth administration. We are all mutually dependent on one another while at the same time, exercising our legislative duties and independence. On the whole, I believe that we can only get better as our democracy matures.”

Kalu Writes Party, Senators-elect, Says He’s in Race

Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, wrote personal letters to members of APC NWC and the 108 senators-elect, intimating them of his intention to contest the position of Senate President.

Kalu, however, refuted stories making the rounds that the South-east senators-elect had endorsed him. He explained that they only met to make a demand from the president-elect and APC.

In an official statement released by his media office, Kalu said he was offering himself for the position of Senate President to the Nigerian people, the senators-elect, and the party with sincerity of heart, humility, and candour.

Kalu noted that his seeming inactive posture in the senate presidency race was because of the one month mourning of his late wife, Mrs Ifeoma Ada Kalu.

Attached to the letter of intent was a copy of Kalu’s legislative agenda, which had six priorities, listed as follows: Economic Growth and Reform; Constitutional and Electoral Reform; National Security; Improved Social Conditions and Welfare; Efficient and Effective National Assembly and Global Influence

Kalu promised to promote and defend the constitution and foster a congenial and cordial relationship between the executive and judiciary.

Nonetheless, some former senators, who were in the second to fourth National Assembly, met in Abuja yesterday and expressed support for the planned zoning of Senate President to South-south and Deputy Senate President to North-west.

Convener of the group, Senator Basheer Lado, who read the communiqué at the end of the meeting, said their resolution was based on the need for fairness, equity and justice.

The ex-lawmakers noted that the National Assembly required experienced and level-headed leaders at the helm of its affairs to calm the current tension in the country.

They stated, “We believe that, in the spirit of equity, fairness, political expedience and following extensive consultations with stakeholders, hereby express our total support for the zoning of the position of the President of the 10th Senate to the South-south geopolitical zone of Nigeria.

“We also affirm our unfettered support for the position of the President of the 10th Senate, who also doubles as Chairman of the National Assembly, to be conferred on His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON.

“The position of Senate President represents the third position in hierarchy of our current democratic dispensation. This position carries considerable weight in discharging vital constitutional responsibilities and for charting the right course for our national development.

“It is also important that the holder of such a position enjoys the confidence and support of the party leadership and that of his peers, as Senator Godswill Akpabio undoubtedly does.

“With this same spirit of fairness, we also affirm our solid support that the position of Deputy President of the 10th Senate be conceded to Distinguished Senator Barau I. Jubril, CON, representing Kano North Senatorial Zone, Kano State.

“It is our conviction that a diverse and united legislative leadership is critical to good governance. At a trying period in our nation’s political history, the National Assembly requires experienced and level headed leaders at the helm of its affairs.”

Other former senators present at the press briefing included Barnabas Gemade, Abba Aji, Magnus Abe, Ayogu Eze, Ridwan Soji Akanbi, Eta Enag, Ayo Arise, and Sunny Ugbuoji.

But the position of the former senators was rejected by a group loyal to another aspirant for senate presidency, Abdulaziz Yari.

The group, Good Governance Initiative (GGi), condemned the action of the former senators and described it as double-standard and undemocratic.

The group berated the former senators for calling on other aspirants to step down for Akpabio.

The pro-Yari group said the call by the former lawmakers amounted to double standard, as many members of the hitherto unknown group had championed the independence of the legislature in the past when it suited their interests.

The group said, “These were people who functioned as lawmakers at the highest level of this country previously. They ought to understand fundamental rights of individuals as enshrined in the constitution. They ought to understand constitutional democracy like ours. Many of them on the list once championed the independence of the parliament. So, what has changed? The best answer to the question is double standard on their part, for their selfish gains.

“However, His Excellency Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari will exercise his rights within the confines of the Senate Standing Rule and the 1999 Constitution, as amended. He cannot be intimidated by this kind of gang-up since the former senators have no voting rights on the floor of the senate, on one hand.”

Opposition Parties Set Up 11-man Committee to Screen Candidates

Members of the opposition parties in the incoming 10th House of Representatives put together an 11-man committee charged with the task of shortlisting, screening and eventual recommendation of aspirants for the speaker and deputy speaker positions.

Last week, the caucus known as the “Greater Majority” with a plan to upstage APC, had said it would contest for speakership and the deputy speakership of the House of Representatives.

The political parties that made up the caucus included PDP, Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Young People’s Party (YPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The lawmakers at a briefing said the committee would be chaired by Hon. Nicholas Mutu, with Hon. Afam Victor Ogene as Secretary, and Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin as Deputy Chairman.

Other members of the committee included Hon. Wole Oke (PDP), Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi (SDP), Hon. Beni Lar (PDP), Hon. Ali Isa JC (PDP), Hon. Kabiru Alhassan Rurum (NNPP ), Hon. Donatus Mathew Kuzalio (LP), Hon. Yusuf Salisu Majigiri (PDP), Hon. Nnabuife Chinwe Clara (YPP), Hon. Gwacham Chinwe (APGA), and Hon. Idris Salman.

The committee was given one week to turn in its report.

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