The National Executive Committee of the All Peoples Congress will meet this week to ratify the zoning of key posts in the National Assembly.
The National Working Committee of the party , which rose from a meeting in the early hours of Saturday, had zoned key offices like the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But findings by The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday showed that the NWC agreed that the Senate President should be zoned to the North Central.
The decision has now left Senate Minority Leader, George Akume from Benue State and Bukola Saraki ( Kwara State) as the two front liners for the post.
However, investigations indicated that the decision on the zoning of the position of speaker was not very clear , as influential political figures from both the North and the South are allegedly scheming to have their candidates assume the seat.
The development led to two separate accounts on what exactly transpired at the NWC on the position of speaker.
One early account claimed that the post was zoned to the North-East.
But, a second account insisted that as of the time the meeting ended on Saturday morning, it had been resolved that the South-West should take the speaker’s slot.
By this account, the post of Deputy Speaker was reportedly zoned to the South-South.
The PUNCH learnt that to achieve this arrangement, the post of Deputy Senate President was also zoned to the North-East.
This implies that while the North will be in charge of the Senate, the South will control the House.
A top National Assembly official in Abuja said, “This is the way things stand, looking at the general direction of the negotiations.
“What is most important though is that, all of this is actually in principle.
“It is the NEC that will have the final say in this week. It then means that a lot of lobbying and wooing by both the North-East and the South-West will take place this week ahead of the NEC”,
It was gathered that should the South-West push its way through at the NEC, House Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, would likely emerge as the speaker of the 8th House.
Gbajabiamila (Lagos State), a lawyer and fourth-time member of the House , had also served as Deputy Minority Leader in the 6th Assembly.
He has been largely regarded by his colleagues as the “leading voice of the opposition” since 2003.
The National Assembly source added, “But, if the North-East takes it, the man to watch is Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi State).
“He has a lawmaker from Borno State, Mr. Mohammed Monguno, as his rival in the zone.
“Much again depends on what the NEC will ratify, between Deputy Senate President and House Speaker as the position zoned to the North-East.”
Investigations revealed that the APC was guarding the process “cautiously “ to avoid a possible revolt by the younger and mostly independent -minded members of the House, who might choose not to toe the party’s line.
“In 2011, the current Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal (North-West) , emerged against the decision of the Peoples Democratic Party to zone the seat to the South-West.
“The APC is being careful to avoid a repeat scenario, where members will vote in a direction different from the party’s,” the official said.
When contacted, House spokesman and member of the APC, Zakari Mohammed, confirmed that decisions had been reached on zoning.
He added, “Certain decisions were reached, but you see, there is still NEC ahead.
“We should wait for the NEC to ratify and come up with a decision to avoid unnecessary speculation”, Mohammed told The PUNCH.
The PUNCH gathered that despite the fact of the NWC narrowing the position of speaker to between the South-West and the North-East, Chairman, House committee on Finance, Abdulmumin Jibrin (North-West) was still campaigning for the job.
For example, Jibrin, who is from Kano State, is scheduled to meet with newly-elected members this week in Abuja.
Others in the race are Pally Iriase (Edo State); . Ajibola Famurewa (Osun); Mojeed Alabi (Osun); and Mohammed Monguno.
North-West rejects Chief Whip slot in senate
Senators from the North- West may have rejected the position of Chief Whip allegedly allotted to the zone by the APC caucus in the Senate on Thursday.
It was learnt on Sunday that Senators from the zone met immediately after the enlarged meeting and rejected the positions allotted to them.
One of the senators told The PUNCH on Sunday that his colleagues were not happy because others wanted to short-change them because the President -elect is from their geo – political zone.
However, when contacted, a senator from the zone, Kabir Marafa (Zamfara Central ), said he could not speak on an issue that had not been decided upon by the party.
Buhari group, Presidency clash over Jonathan’s transition team
Meanwhile, the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation and the Presidency on Sunday clashed over the composition of the transition committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan.
While the APC PCO described the committee as trickish, the Presidency said it was senseless for anyone to complain about it.
The Jonathan transition committee is expected to meet with the one to be constituted by the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, ahead of the May 29 inauguration of the new administration.
The PUNCH had reported exclusively that the Jonathan transition committee would be headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo and that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, would serve as its secretary.
But the APC PCO, in an article on Sunday by its Director, Media and Communication, Garba Shehu, flayed the Jonathan committee, saying it is made up people who represent “the worst of our prejudices.”
It therefore advised the incoming Buhari administration to be careful about its choice of people who would constitute its own version of its committee.
The APC PCO stated, “The President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has earned an incredibly high amount of goodwill following his acceptance of the outcome of the election, which itself had the effect of de-escalating tensions not just among Nigerians but all over the continent.
“But the President’s committee on transition and handover looks to be a trickish one. It seems to be like one drawn to ‘massage’ the numbers and ensure safety for ‘team Jonathan.’ “Some names on that list have certainly made the eyes pop out of their sockets. In the President’s list, you have men and women who reflect the worst of our prejudices; men and women who have made themselves the mouthpieces for everything regressive.
“This is one reason why the President-elect Buhari and his party cannot be too careful on choosing who they will give their part of the assignment to.
There is no room for complacency in doing this either.
Nothing that puts the incoming government at a risk should be allowed to happen.”
It suggested that the committee to be set up by Buhari should be peopled by technocrats and not politicians.
The APC PCO warned that including politicians in the Buhari’s committee “may compromise the ability of the incoming government to get a full understanding of the issues(on the ground).”
It added, “Technocrats will on the other hand come in from a detached and hopefully, unbiased standpoint.
“Without preconceived ideas or mindset, a well-chosen set of technocrats may help unravel the rot that has eaten deep into the oil and maritime sectors, two money spinners, yet hemorrhaging government departments that are adequately represented in Dr. Jonathan’s transition team.”
The organisation pointed out that the successful take-off of the new administration would be determined by the quality of its handover committee.
It said, “Buhari’s emergence as President has already unleashed an upsurge of patriotic zealotry and strong sense of probity and accountability that is flaring and sharpening with each day.
“It is, therefore, important for the country that both Buhari and the party have agreed that a good step to the successful take-off of the new administration is one that is defined by the quality of its handover team, itself driven by knowledge and experience and certainly not by patronage.”
“We have our respect for politicians.
After all, they are the ones who led the party to this overwhelming mandate.
But if they are given this job, they won’t be as incisive as is needful.
Let us not underrate or under-estimate the amount of damage that has been done to national institutions, the economy and politics by the 16-year mismanagement of the country by the Peoples Democratic Party. It is the combined effect of their unseriousness, shortcomings and their mistakes that have reduced the once dominant ruling party to a paltry minority stakeholder in the states and the National Assembly following these elections.
“What will work for the incoming administration and for the best interest of the nation is a strong set of committees, drawing heavily from experts in the several fields and a set of good, independent auditors.”
But the Presidency, through the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said Shehu’s statement amounted to “unnecessary busybody commenting.”
According to Abati, Shehu probably did not understand the composition of a transition committee and therefore could not have been speaking for his principal.
He said, “He (Shehu) probably does not understand what the composition of a transition committee is all about.
“His statement amounts to unnecessary busybody commenting because the transition committee on our side is supposed to prepare the handover notes and to ensure that they are properly done.
“Then on Gen. Buhari’s side, there is another transition committee whose job is to collect the transition notes, review the notes and ask relevant questions to see if there are needs for clarifications.
“Candidly, if he is complaining about the composition of the transition committee, it does not make any sense to me. He probably did not speak for his principal.
“I really don’t see the basis for what he had said.
Complaining of the composition does not make sense at all.”
Culled from PUNCH