New Governors’ Zoning Formula Ahead Of Tinubu, APC’s Decision Steers Unrest

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New Governors’ Zoning Formula Ahead Of Tinubu, APC’s Decision Steers Unrest

New Governors’ Zoning Formula Ahead Of Tinubu, APC’s Decision Steers Unrest

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governors has recently, according to a report, unveiled a zoning formula for the party. Contained in a memo to be submitted to president-elect Bola Tinubu, following the teeming aspirants seeking for the position of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The governors, under their Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), the report said, recommended that the Senate President be zoned to the South-East, South-South or North-Central.

The Forum also asked that the position of Deputy Senate President be zoned to the North-Central or North-West.

For the Speaker of the House, the PGF said it should go to the North-Central or North-West just as it also recommended that the office of the Deputy Speaker of the House should go to South-East or South-South. For other principal offices, the governors said they should be shared amongst aspirants who may step down or lose their bids for the two major positions stated above.

Charity Reporters had specifically reported that the following Senators are jostling for the Senate President, Senators Barau Jubrin from the North-West state of Kano, Orji Uzor Kalu from the South-East state of Abia, Sani Musa from the North-Central state of Niger, Godswill Akpabio from the South-South state of Akwa Ibom and Ali Ndume from the North-East state of Borno.

Others are Abdulaziz Yari from the North-West state of Zamfara, David Umahi from Ebonyi State in the South-East, Adams Oshiomhole from the South-South state of Edo and the incumbent President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan from the North East state of Yobe.

Our News platform also has in its record that for speakership, those in the race are Rep. Ahmed Idris Wase from Plateau State, Rep. Makki Yalleman from Jigawa State, Rep. Adamu Yusuf Gagdi from Plateau State, Rep. Benjamin Kalu from Abia State, Rep. Peter Akpatason from Edo State, Rep. Muktar Aliyu Betara from Borno State, Rep. Miriam Onuoha from Imo State, Rep. Sada Soli Jibia from Katsina State, Rep. Tunji Olawuyi from Kwara State, Rep. Abbas Tajudeen from Kaduna State and Rep. Aminu Sani Jaji from Zamfara State. The majority leader from Kano State, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, after the supplementary polls which he won, has thrown his hat into the ring as well.

The governors’ memo, allegedly signed by the PGF Chairman and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, and addressed to Tinubu, read:

“The president-elect, vice president-elect, and the National Working Committee of the APC need to meet urgently with the PGF and APC Caucuses in the National Assembly under the auspices of National Caucus and NEC to debate and adopt a zoning formula for the leadership of the two Houses.

“The PGF met in plenary and proposes the following as basis for consideration of the president-elect and the party:

a. Senate President – South-East or South-South or North-Central
b. Deputy Senate President – North-Central or North-West
c. Speaker of the House – North-Central or North-West
d. Deputy Speaker of the House – South-East or South-South.

“Other principal officer positions may be offered by the Party to compensate those that may be required to withdraw from the races or step down include:
a. Majority Leader
b. Deputy Majority Leader
c. Chief Whip, and
d. Deputy Chief Whip”.

Below Is An Analysis On Party Standings In Both Chambers At The Conclusion Of Supplementary Polls.

For the Senate, APC has 59 senators; PDP 36; LP 8; NNPP 2; YPP 1; APGA 1 and SDP 2. Total 109.

In the House, APC has 179; PDP 115; LP 35; NNPP 19; ADC 2; YPP 1; APGA 5 and SDP 2. Total 358.

The remaining two federal constituencies namely Ikono/Ini in Akwa Ibom State and Nsu/Njaba/Nkwere/Nwangele in Imo State are yet to be declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as of the time of this report.

Charity Reporters can uncertainly say that should the other opposition parties merge with the PDP, might have a head way towards producing an opposition Senate President or Deputy Senate President, same as the House of Representatives.

However, Zoning May Be Enforceable Only In The Senate.

All eyes are on the leadership of the APC, the party in power, and Tinubu, to hammer out a zoning arrangement for the National Assembly principal officers even as analysts believe that any zoning, whether by the governors, president-elect or party, may be welcomed only in the Senate where the odds appear to favour the South-East.

Reps’ Speaker

It’s going to be rough and tough in the House, according to analysts who spoke to Sunday Vanguard. The signs, they say, are already visible. Yes, there will a zoning formula but the emergence of a new Speaker, many believe, may take another route. “If certain aspirants are not placated and be made to step down before the inauguration day, they will run against the zoning arrangement and win”, one of the analysts said.

“And APC will have no choice but to swallow hard and accept the situation as the verdict of the House.

Such persons with a winning streak include Betara, the current Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations. Obviously, Betara might not be favoured by the APC leadership zoning given the political equation in that he hails from the same state of Borno in the North-East with the vice president-elect but the lawmaker appears to be the popular choice at the moment”.

Reactions To Governors’ Recommendations

Sunday Vanguard sampled the views of some lawmakers and lawmakers-elect on the issue of zoning. While some incumbent senators and senators-elect said they will speak once the zoning formula is officially decided by the APC, some House members and members-elect bared their minds.

We need a pan-Nigerian Speaker – Hon. Ben Igbakpa, outgoing member representing Ethiope federal constituency of Delta State
“This scenario has played out before in 1999. Then, the President was from the South-West. Today, we have a president-elect from the South-West and vice president-elect from the North-East. Because of the clear dichotomy between the North and the South, it will be fair to have a Senate President come from either the South-East or the South-South for balance; and Speaker going to any of the northern states. I am not particular about where it should go to. You know we have this issue of regional balance. While we are talking of the fact that we should have a Senate President or a Speaker that should be a pan-Nigerian just like the outgoing Speaker, we should also have somebody who can even improve on that.

That’s one. But again, we must talk about issues that bring about our unity as a nation. We look at the geopolitical settings. We must also look at the religious setting because, somehow, we have a president-elect and vice president-elect that are Muslims. That should also be considered so that it doesn’t seem as if one religion is becoming prominent. Those are the areas that we should look at but, above all, we should have presiding officers of the National Assembly that should be Nigerian presiding officers, the ones that will not look at anybody’s face where the gavel is supposed to go; the ones that will give Nigerians what they expect. We need to forget our individual interests and look at the bigger picture to see how we can make our country better.

The legislature is an independent arm of government and, because of that, they are supposed to be allowed to pick whosoever they choose as their leaders. While I quite agree with my colleagues on that position, you must agree that as it is today, the opposition members have turned a good chunk of the members of the 10th Assembly when inaugurated and they have the strength. If they are united, they can actually decide who becomes the Speaker. And in doing this, I am sure these regions have capable hands.

New Governors’ Zoning Formula Ahead Of Tinubu, APC’s Decision Steers Unrest

Some of them are people that I know, and have worked with closely. They have a lot of people with passion, capacity, competence and charisma to carry everybody along. If that is properly harnessed, the opposition members can pull a surprise because nobody is going to come to the parliament to say you must vote for this person, especially on the day of inauguration. If they can hold themselves together, I read about the new front, the Greater Majority, led by Agbedi.

I am sure they can actually have their way. Even if the governors are saying zone it to this area, unless the character they are looking for is there, it can go wherever. So, they must consider the interest of the nation and the regional balance. Then, there is the issue of religion. They must put that into consideration in whatever they are doing. But I believe they will look at all of them. Whether you like it or not, they have one or two persons and may have taken a position by now.”

Senate Presidency Should Not Be Zoned ~ Sen. Ndume

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Party is supreme – Hon. Benjamin Kalu, speakership aspirant, spokesman for the outgoing 9th House and member, representing Bende federal constituency of Abia State

“In any constitutional democracy, the ruling party has a major role to play in setting up the architecture of government in any democratic clime. So, Nigeria will not be an exception.

And when it gets to the ruling party, there are strategic individuals who occupy the prominent positions regarding the decision processing in their political party. The president-elect is one of those stakeholders that will have a say on how the architecture will be drawn to reflect easy access to the achievement of the national objectives which the party as a whole has projected to Nigerians as manifesto for which we were voted. And since those things were not mere letters, as a party, we need to live it out for Nigerians to benefit.

It was high time the structure of government was conducted in a way to achieve this. So, it’s not a wrong call for the governors who are also major stakeholders to take a step to sit together with the party and the president-elect for zoning to be achieved if it’s going to increase national cohesion, inspire peace, activate and stimulate its progress.

There is nothing wrong about that. It’s actually a good call. And if they don’t do it, who will do it? So, they have to make their position known just like other stakeholders. So, all this lobbying, consultation is the beauty of democracy and should be encouraged in negotiations, interests being put on the table, it’s allowed.

Now, talking about the South-East and the South-South, if it falls into the equation of what the party needs to achieve for the nation, in consideration of what I have mentioned before, cohesion, loyalty and peace and all the rest, why not? But it’s entirely up to them. But for us who are running for position, we are also flexible. We could be anything the party wants us to be. If it’s not zoned to our favour and goes outside our zone, we are party loyalists and the party is supreme. We are not going to say if the speakership doesn’t come to us, we cannot accept deputy speakership or because, it’s been zoned to another place, we are going to be at loggerheads with the party.

Remember, there is a system we have put in place, a tripartite leadership forum, where you have the party, you have the legislature and also the executive sitting periodically to harmonize things to have a focus for the nation. If you fight your party at this level, how would you be able to sit with them when you go to that tripartite meeting? Having said that, it is important to note that by the provision of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I think Section 60, the House regulates its activities. So, it shouldn’t be like an imposition that does not have consultation and buy-in of the members of the parliament. If it is done in a coercive manner, like a compulsion on the House, it’s not going to release the right energy on the day of this election.

It’s an election, you need to lobby and have the buy-in of the minorities. And the minorities at the moment have a mindset that it is for us to reach out to the minorities and negotiate with them on the table. There are so many experienced legislators amongst the minorities who will have one or two roles to play in the growth of the legislature. So, you can’t because they are the minorities put their desires and wish into the trashcan which means, if there is any value they are bringing on board, access should be given for that to be showcased.

So, let the consultation continue, the stakeholders keep working and let’s also keep talking to the membership of the House and, hopefully, all these will synchronize at a particular point to give Nigerians the quality of leadership they deserve. We should not sacrifice merit, quality, capacity and competence on the altar of the region, now zoning. While we zone, we must put our eyes on the fact that this is a knowledge-based institution that thrives not just on politics but also on knowledge, competence and capacity that will help us make good laws.

It will start showing immediately after you have had the people on board. You can’t hide lack of capacity, competence, or experience. It will start showing from the first day of handling the gavel that this one was a wrong decision and that it a good one”.

We will respect zoning as long as it will foster peace and unity – Hon. Kingsley Chinda, member representing Obior/Akpor federal constituency of Rivers State

“I don’t have any issue with where the offices are zoned. Like we have said, we will respect the zoning of the majority party, which we expect will foster unity, peace and inclusiveness in the polity. This will eventually help for speedy development in an atmosphere of peace.

We are certain that the zoning will be in tandem with the letter and spirit of Section 14 (3) of the Constitution. We shall all comply with the zoning and support candidates from agreed zones”.

Are APC govs members of the National Assembly to decide for members-elect? – Hon. Victor Afam Ogene, member-elect for Ogbaru federal constituency of Anambra State.

“APC or any political party for that matter reserves the right to regale itself with talks about micro-zoning leadership positions in the National Assembly. But the overriding question remains, are such fanciful engagements binding of the generality of senators and members-elect?

The answer today, tomorrow, and until our current Constitution is altered to reflect that desire, is a big no. Issues surrounding this all-important question is easily resolved in the case of the House of Representatives by Section 50 (1) (b), to wit:” There shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.” Now, the APC Governors Forum, which you say has proposed sharing of these positions to geo-political zones, are they members of the House of Representatives?

By going the route of zoning, are they not affronting Section 50 of the Nigerian Constitution? Besides, political parties must not always use the National Assembly as guinea pigs for their zoning fancies.

Why didn’t these same governors summon the same courage, which they currently seek to flaunt, during the presidential primaries, by micro-zoning the presidency to a particular zone? If it was okay to say that the presidential ticket should go to the South, then I think they ought to follow through with that same template and propose, for instance, that the speakership should go to the North”.

Zoning is old fashioned – Hon. Ali JC Isa, member-elect for Biliri/ Ballanga federal constituency of Gombe State.

“I can tell you for free that we are too experienced not to know what to do. We cannot be dragged backwards by zoning. We are here as colleagues, duly elected legislators to work for our country and not for any party. Yes, we belong to different parties but the nature of our work demands internal collaboration, cooperation and mutual understanding and respect to succeed. It’s when we agree among ourselves that the input is felt outside. So, therefore, we must do what can bring about this in-house cooperation before we relate with the other two arms of government.

We must put our house in order before anything succeeds. So, zoning cannot be a consideration for such an assemblage. If it’s an assembly of a party, we can sit in our various party secretariats to take such decisions based on zoning but we belong to different political parties. Whoever is bringing that to the table must be ready for shock and surprises. We have learned a lot from previous experiences and would not want to repeat such.

All of those who are contesting for speakership has gone far as mobilizing support using their resources to seek the votes of their colleagues and it will be very unfair and immoral for either the APC or PDP to seek to undermine this by showing selective favouritism in the name of zoning.

Why didn’t they announce zoning before the general elections? From history, we all know that the most stable and most productive legislatures all over the world are those built on mutual understanding where members vote among themselves and their leaders and not imposed by the executive. Such practices are no longer fashionable because ill-wind will blow on democracy”.

New Governors’ Zoning Formula Ahead Of Tinubu, APC’s Decision Steers Unrest

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