APC To Zone Senate President To North-east, Speaker, South-west

Temidayo Akinsuyi;
Tony Ezimakor;
Innocent Oweh

Lagos / Abuja

The All Progressives Congress (APC) will zone the position of Senate President of the 9th National Assembly to the North- East, while that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives will be zoned to the South-West, Daily Independent has gathered.

A member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), who spoke with our correspondent on Monday, said the party “will stick to the same zoning formula it adopted in 2015 before it was thwarted by some rebellious APC lawmakers who teamed up with their colleagues in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Originally, the APC had penciled Senator Ahmad Lawan, the current Senate Leader, who hails from the North-East for the position of Senate President while Femi Gbajabiamila from the South-West was positioned for the Speaker slot.

However, with the success of the coup, the APC’s zoning arrangement was truncated as Bukola Saraki from North-Central (Kwara) and Yakubu Dogara from the North-East (Bauchi) emerged as the Senate President and Speaker, respectively.

Ahead of the inauguration of the National Assembly in June, the leadership of the APC is currently meeting in Abuja to agree on a zoning formula for the six presiding and principal officers of the Senate.

The offices include two presiding officers namely Senate President and Deputy Senate President, while the four principal officers are Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Senate Chief Whip and Senate Deputy Whip.

Our source added that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the national chairman of the APC, is resolute in its resolve to ensure that the 2015 scenario does not repeat itself again.

“On the issue of the Senate President and the Speaker, President Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the national chairman are on the same page.

“From information we have, the same zoning formula adopted in 2015 will be maintained especially since President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are returned for another term”, he said.

Another credible source also said both President Buhari and Tinubu are favourably disposed to Lawan and Gbajabiamila’s emergence.

“All the three senators in Katsina, the president’s state are backing Lawan. Also, all the three senators in Lagos State are also backing him as well as other senators-elect from the South-West”, he said.

Lawan in an interaction with newsmen had said the ability of principal officers to carry everybody along had always been the secret of legislative chambers to delivering meaningfully on their mandate.

He said he was mindful of disagreement sometimes in the course of legislative activities due to party affiliation and other factors.

However, he said that everything should be done in the interest of the people, adding that, “we are senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, even though coming from different parts of Nigeria.

“When we legislate, we legislate for the entire country and therefore we need to remain united and focused.

“I was in a position for 16 years from 1999 to 2015 before I became part of the ruling party; I am glad, I thank God for that.

“But even as an opposition, we knew where we opposed the government and where we cooperated with them,” the legislator said.

According to him, every legislator works in the interest of the people not based on sentiments.

“For instance, will there be any legislator who will oppose any legislation that will enhance the performance of our armed forces or the police to provide security?

“No! Whether you are All Progressives Congress (APC) or Peoples Democratic Party or Young Progressive Party, we have the same people to serve.

“So, we will work to ensure that we achieve and attain that desired unity within the chamber. There will be equity and fairness in our affairs.

“I am sure that once we are able to unite around national interests we will contribute meaningfully to governance”.

On legislature, executive relationship, Lawan said while the separation of powers was designed to ensure checks and balances among the arms of government, the ultimate goal was to serve the people.

He emphasised that to achieve cordial relationship with the executive, the lawmakers ought to work in unison.

Lawan said that there was a need for continued consultation, coordination and partnership among the two arms of government for better result.

“I always say that the constitution provides for separation of powers and I always define separation of powers may be unorthodox but I believe in that.

“The separation of powers does not amount to the independence of government.

“It is the specialisation of the arms of government. The executive cannot function without the legislature and the legislature needs to work with the executive in a cordial manner.

“However, that does not take away that special function of oversight. It does not take away ensuring that what we do in the legislature is to support the executive.

“Who says we will never disagree with the executive; by constitutional design, we are meant to disagree, hold different perspectives from time to time on issues.

“But when we disagree, I always say, we should sit down and look at issues and take a decision that is in national interest, ” he said.

Lawan, who is senator-elect under the governing APC, promised to respect the wish of the party, should the position be zoned to a region other than the North-East.

He said, “I am a loyal party man. I will respect the decisions of my leaders and my party.”

Lawan, who represents Yobe North is vying for the position for the second time. In 2015, the APC endorsed him following zoning of the position of the President of the Senate to the North-East.

However, he did not make it as Bukola Saraki emerged President of the Senate though against his party’s wish.

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