Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Confusion in APC over N’Assembly leadership

Strong indications emerged on Tuesday that a crisis is brewing within the All Progressives Congress over the zoning of National Assembly leadership posts such as the Senate Presidency and the Speakership of the House of Representatives.

A senate presidential candidate, Senator Bukola Saraki, had on Tuesday tweeted that the party’s National Working Committee had zoned the headship of the Senate to the North-Central.
Saraki stated, “I am delighted that the NWC (National Working Committee) of our dear party yesterday (Monday) reaffirmed its earlier decision to zone (the) position of Senate President to the North- Central.”
Besides Saraki, who is from Kwara State, which is located in the North-Central zone, Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State in the North-East, is also contesting the senate presidency.
Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State in the South-West is contesting the speakership of the House of Representatives with Yakubu Dogara of Bauchi State (North-East) and Muhammed Mungono of Borno State (North-East).
But in an apparent reference to Saraki, the APC NWC denied reports that it had zoned the Senate Presidency to the North-Central and the Speakership of the House of Representatives to the South-West.
The party, in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, on Tuesday, said that such an agreement existed in the figment of the imagination of its authors.
The party said, “Nothing like that ever happened.”
The APC said it was deeply embarrassed by the story, which it said was “planted” in the media to sow the seeds of instability in the party.
Buni said, “The NWC never discussed the issue of zoning at its meeting. Therefore, the report of its decision on zoning is a figment of the imagination of whoever concocted the story.”
The party insisted that its decision not to zone the leadership of the National Assembly remained sacrosanct, adding that the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, had expressed his readiness to work with anyone who emerged as senate president and speaker.
However, moments after the APC statement was issued, Saraki’s media aide, Bamikola Omishore, apologised for the misinformation.
Omishore said in a statement that he read a media report that the APC had zoned the senate presidency and quickly tweeted without proper verification.
He said, “Unfortunately, after reading the story in Daily Trust this morning, out of excitement, I immediately reacted to the story by sharing it on all our social media networks without first checking within the party to confirm the validity of the story,” Omishore said.
“As the Special Assistant on Media & Advocacy to Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki and in my personal capacity, I take full responsibility for the error and apologise to the party and all concerned that might have been inconvenienced by this action, “he said.
But the NWC’s position contradicted the position of the North-Central zone of the party, which on Tuesday, said that the senate presidency had been zoned to it.
The North-Central zone went ahead to adopt Saraki as its sole candidate for the position.
The various chairmen of the party in the zone announced this decision in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting in Abuja, on Tuesday.
They said, “We further resolved and unanimously declared that the North- Central Zone is interested only in the office of Senate Presidency which had earlier been zoned to us by the National Working Committee of our party.”
According to the chairmen, the decision to adopt Saraki was sequel to the withdrawal of the other contender for the position from the zone, Senator George Akume, from the race.
The communiqué noted that since Akume had withdrawn from the senate presidential race, the zone had no option but to adopt Saraki.
Signatories to the communiqué included Letep M. Dabang (Plateau State), Alhaji Haddy Ametuo (Kogi State), Philips Shekwo (Nasarawa State), Alhaji Usman Malik, (Federal Capital Territory), Jibrin Mohammed (Niger State) and Ishola Fulani (Kwara State).
When asked to comment on the NWC’s statement on zoning, Omishore, said the senator did not want to make any statement on the issue.
He said, “My boss is not prepared to speak on the issue, it is not necessary.”
Calls put across to the mobile phone of Lawan were not answered but one of his aides, who craved anonymity, told one of our correspondents that the Yobe senator was not also willing to speak on the issue.
However, the senator representing Yobe-East senatorial district, Senator Abba Ibrahim, maintained that the NWC never approved zoning of the senate presidency to the North-Central.
He said, “There is nothing like zoning the office of the Senate President to the North-Central. There was no such arrangement in the past so, there is nothing to reaffirm.
“We, in the North-East have been requesting that the position of the Senate President should have been reserved for our geopolitical zone for the simple reason that we have never held the post before.”
Responding to the party’s statement, the two main contenders for the speakership of the 8th House of Representatives legislature, Femi Gbajabiamila and Yakubu Dogara, commended the APC for clarifying its position on the zoning of the presiding offices of the National Assembly.
Both Gbajabiamila and Dogara applauded the party for clarifying that it had not zoned the senate presidency and the speakership to any region of the country.
In a statement, the Gbajabiamila Speakership Campaign Secretariat, said, “We will definitely abide by any decision reached by the party. We are convinced that our candidate, Femi Gbajabiamila, has fulfilled all meritorious requirements to emerge as the next Speaker.”
The document was signed on behalf of the secretariat by Mr. Rufai Chachangi.
In a similar vein, Dogara’s campaign group said it welcomed the clarification the APC made on the controversial matter.
The Dogara’s campaign statement reads, “The position taken by our great political party, the All Progressives Congress, is a welcome development.
“It is in sync with the stance of our leader and President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari.
“We in the Yakubu Dogara project commend the APC leadership for taking this position.
‘‘Members should be given the free hand to choose their leaders without any external interference by some godfathers.
“This will further deepen and consolidate on the gains of the 7th Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.”
SOURCE: punchng