The All Progressives Congress (APC) has opposed northern senators vying for the Senate presidency.
It insisted that any northerner angling for the leadership of the senate had no respect for the party’s constitution.
The National Vice Chairman of the APC (North-West), Malam Salihu Lukman, and the party’s Director of Publicity, on Monday, Bala Ibrahim, said for fairness, northern senators contesting the post should step down.
Party chieftains in the South-South and South-East had called for the zoning of the senate presidency to their regions in the spirit of fairness and to give other geo-political regions a sense of belonging in view of the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket adopted by the party.
So far, no fewer than eight senators had indicated an interest in the race. They include Senators Jibrin Barau (Kano Central), Sani Musa (Niger East), Orji Kalu (Abia North), and GodsWill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom North-West ).
Others are Senators Osita Izunaso (Imo West), Peter Ndubuze (Imo North), Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara West), and Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), amongst others.
But Lukman called on Yari, Barau, and other northern senators to step down from the race for the office of Senate President in the 10th National Assembly.
Lukman noted that it was compelling for the ruling party to zone the prestigious office to either the South-South or South-East for national unity.
The APC chieftain made the appeal in a statement issued in Abuja titled ‘Cash-and-Carry contest for leadership of 10th National Assembly.’
He said, “It is therefore very compelling that the Senate President should come from either the South-South or South-East. I want to specifically note that two respected Senators-elect from North-West has made public declarations about their aspirations for the position of Senate President. These are His Excellency Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Barau Jibrin.
“Now that power has shifted to the Southern part of the country, as a region, we equally have the responsibility to regulate the conduct of all our Senators-elect from the North-West, including the two Senators-elect Abdulaziz Yari and Barau Jibrin to withdraw their aspiration for the Senate President.
“All party leaders from North-West must prevail on these leaders to in the overall interest of the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country withdraw their aspirations to contest the position of Senate President for the 10th Senate. At the most, they should aspire for the position of Majority Leader of the Senate in line with the 1999 zoning formula in the Senate.”
Lukman, a member of the APC National Working Committee, reiterated that no North-West or North-East candidate should be considered for the position.
While describing the lobbying by the lawmakers and NWC members as worrisome, he warned against the imposition of another Muslim leader as the Senate president following the outrage that greeted the emergence of the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his deputy-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, who share the same faith.
He noted, “Apart from the clear disregard for national unity and outright disrespect for Nigerians, especially the persons of Tinubu and Shettima, being the President-elect and Vice-President-elect respectively, some of the aspiring candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives are neither concerned about the security and well-being of Nigeria nor are they in any way disturbed about factors that could erode the electoral viability of our party – APC.
“These are aspiring candidates for these positions, two of them Muslims from North-West aspiring for the position of Senate President and one of them from North-East aspiring for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, who are desperately mobilising support.
“Certainly, these aspirants know that there is a very high probability that once the party is allowed to finalise the processes of zoning positions of leadership, the probability is high that these positions would be zoned to other sections of the country outside theirs.
“’It should be very clear that any person whose aspiration for the position of Senate President, the number three highest ranking position in the Federal Government, who is a Muslim will not mean well for Nigeria and will be working to undermine the electoral viability of APC as a political party.”
“Any Muslim aspiring for the position of Senate President has no respect for both the constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the APC. ’This is because chapter II, section 14(3) of the Nigerian constitution clearly outlined that ‘the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
‘’With two Muslims already elected to be sworn in as President and Vice President of the Federal Republic on May 29, any attempt to consider another Muslim as Senate President will promote the dominance of Muslims in the Federal Government and will be injurious to national unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria as a sovereign entity, which must not be allowed.”
On his part, the APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, described Lukman’s call for the withdrawal of North-West aspirants from the race as ‘ethical.’
“Fairness demands that these aspirants step down. It will seek to give a semblance of inclusiveness and give everyone a sense of belonging. But the ultimate decision rests with the party which will not do anything injurious to its interest,” he stated.
Asked if the APC had taken a position on the zoning of the senate president and speaker, the APC image maker disclosed that no formal position had been taken on it.
He said, “We haven’t come to that yet (zoning) but it has been discussed. I think people want the atmosphere to be cool following the stress and tensions generated by the elections. But consultations are ongoing, it doesn’t have to be formal, where everybody will meet and decisions taken.
“The Saraki-Dogara lesson has been learnt and I don’t think the 10th Assembly will happen that way. The party will not lose focus. I think they want to see the outcome of the supplementary elections. That will give an impetus to the direction where things will go. My intuition is telling me, probably, the 1999 arrangement is probably what will hold.”
On whether the president-elect would have a say in who emerges as NASS leaders, Ibrahim stated that it was incontestable.
“That is an understatement. It is only the president (Buhari) that says he belongs to nobody. But this one (Tinubu) belongs to everybody. He will certainly have a say because the function of the executives is dependent on the relationship with the legislature.
Adapted from The Punch