APC begins talks with aggrieved Zones over N’Assembly leadership

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has concluded arrangements to use the remaining leadership positions in the two chambers of the National Assembly to resolve the grievances arising from the zoning of the Senate president and the Speaker of House of Representatives.

The National Chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and other top leaders of the party have, therefore, started meeting stakeholders from various zones to negotiate on the settlement deals.

The ruling party has zoned the Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North-east and South-west zones respectively.

It followed-up by endorsing Senator Ahmed Lawan as its candidate for the Senate president and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the speakership position.

Following the development, stakeholders of the party in the South-east have decided to lobby for the positions of the Deputy Speaker and Senate Chief Whip. The South-east stakeholders are said to be making a strong case for the choice of Hon. Nkiruka Onyeojocha as deputy speaker in the ninth National Assembly.

But some APC legislators have rejected the party’s move and have vowed to contest for the positions.

Some of the stakeholders from these zones have also voiced their discontent over the decision of the party to micro zone the affected positions.

Similarly, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also criticised the APC’s move, insisting that only the elected National Assembly members will decide who will lead them.

It was gathered that the delay in zoning the outstanding positions was to enable the party to work out details of the arrangement.

A reliable top leader of APC told journalists at the weekend that they had to explore the option of trading off some positions in return to sustaining the solidarity of its members in the National Assembly ahead of the formal inauguration of the new government.

He said the party had to resort to the new tactics when it became obvious that threats of sanctions and even use of governors to get ambitious members to toe party lines would not work.

“We are deliberately delaying the zoning of the remaining positions to allow room for further negotiations. We intend to use some of these positions for trade off in order to ensure that the party remained united on the inauguration day,” he said.

The remaining  positions are the Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.

Although the Director General of the Campaign of Hon. Gbajabiamila was quoted in a news report at the weekend to have said that the party endorsed Alhaji Mohammed Idris Wase from Plateau State, the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, said the National Working Committee has not met to decide on the remaining positions.

Onilu, who spoke to THISDAY on telephone yesterday, said that once the NWC has taken a decision on the matter, it will be communicated to the public.

Meanwhile, the stakeholders of APC in the South-east have resolved to lobby for the position of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate Chief Whip.

A leading member of APC from the South-east, who spoke to THISDAY but did not want his name mentioned, said the matter was part of the discussions at the recent meeting of the South-east leadership caucus held last week.

According to the source, the South-east caucus has resolved to support the lawmaker from Abia State, Hon. Nkiruka Onyeojocha, and to make a strong case for the position of Deputy Speaker.

He said the decision by the zone was as a result of the need to ensure balancing both for the zone and for gender.

“The leaders from the zone believe strongly that Hon. Onyeojocha is highly qualified and possesses the character to occupy the Deputy Speakership position,” he said.