New details have emerged from Wednesday’s meeting between President-elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and National Assembly members.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the meeting was held to discuss the zoning of the leadership of the incoming 10th National Assembly.
Sources say that Tinubu rejected proposals from some members of the APC leadership and three South West senators who suggested that the Senate Presidency should be zoned to the South-South.
Tinubu reportedly stated that he was only in favour of the number three office being zoned to the South, rather than any specific zone.
Tinubu argued that since the APC stood for zoning the presidency to the South and not to any particular zone, it would be wrong to propose zoning the post of Senate President to the South-South only. He suggested that zoning the post to the South would allow all qualified aspirants from the South East and South-South to enter a fair contest for senators to make their choice, just like APC delegates picked the presidential candidate of the party prior to the election.
The president-elect emphasised the importance of fairness, equity, and regional and religious balancing in the constitution of the National Assembly leadership, in order to avoid a controversy that could cause a crisis in the party.
Sources also revealed that elements around Senator Godswill Akpabio had infiltrated the APC NWC to influence members to push for the micro-zoning of the office of Senate President to the South-South. The aim of the Akpabio camp was reportedly to make the Akwa Ibom senator the sole candidate for the position.
An impeccable source privy to the meeting said: “The plot to have a sole South-South candidate by zoning the office to the zone failed flat with President-elect, who, in his wisdom, rejected pressures by some members of the party leadership and the Southwest senators for the zoning of the Senate presidency to the South-South.
“There’s no truth in all that was reported in the media that the President and the NWC have settled for South-South. The President insisted that the position should be zoned to the South region.”
However, this newspaper learnt that a senator-elect, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, dismissed the claim made by the three senators from the South West. They stated that the majority of elected lawmakers from the zone and other senators have backed the current Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who hails from the South East geopolitical zone.
He said: “The three senators from South West lied to the president-elect Tuesday night that all of them from the zone were supporting Akpabio for Senate President, but Asiwaju couldn’t be fooled. He cross-checked the claim by reaching out to the other senators-elect only to discover it was untrue.
“As South-westerners, we have a good relationship with all Nigerians and these three senators cannot speak for us. They are not our leaders and cannot take South West senators for granted. Our leader is a former governor who is also a senator.
“For us, we have resolved to do the right thing for the country since it’s the only way Asiwaju (president-elect) can succeed as president. We have chosen to support fairness and justice as this country is built on a tripod – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
“We are happy that the president-elect did not listen to them because he is not petty. He likes fairness and he wants to do the right thing. The 12 senators from the South West already have a preferred candidate. We have 11 senators and one ranking senator who have endorsed Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for president and Senator Sani Musa for Deputy Senate President.
“The northern senators and southern senators believe in the leadership of these two senators and there is no going back. The good news is that Asiwaju has a strong character and will stand firm on his personal convictions.”
It is known that the majority of senators-elect in the APC are in favor of Kalu to lead the 10th Senate. Those from the North reportedly believe that the former governor of Abia State has the necessary pedigree to fill the role.