BY OBUTE JAMES
There are indications that the All Progressive Congress (APC) may decide to zone the office of the Senate President to the North East despite the earlier speculation that the party has zoned the office to the North Central Geo-Political Zone.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said there is no truth to anything that has been dished out anywhere, concerning the issues of appointment, especially the zoning of the National Assembly’s principal positions and other offices.
The party said that in the true tradition of the APC, all issues of public interest will be handled transparently and conveyed to Nigerians through the usual communication channels.
“No appointments have been made and no offices have been zoned. The main concern of our party at the moment is to ensure a smooth transition and to hit the ground running, in the overall interest of the long-suffering people of Nigeria.
”At the appropriate time, Nigerians will be informed of the appointments made and the offices zoned,” APC said.
An insider in National Assembly told THE LEGISLATURE (The Legislature.net) that APC may decide to zone the office of the Senate President to the North East Geo-Political Zone because of several factors like alleged marginalization of the zone, enormous contribution of North East to the success of the party at the poll among other things.
The source said that except Lagos State, Yobe and Borno are the only states in Nigeria that have been in opposition party since 1979.
In 1979, NPN was the ruling government at the centre while Lagos was controlled by UPN; Yobe and Borno were being controlled by GNPP.
Those from the North East are of the view that if justice and fairness is to prevail, now that opposition party takes over the national government, North East particularly Yobe and Borno should be compensated.
“I also believe that if there is any element of truth in the saying that “a patient dog eats the fattest bone” then there is no doubt, the APC leaders will definitely consider zoning the office of the Senate Presidency to the North East,” a source who does not want his name on print affirmed.
One of the factors that APC leadership may consider in favour of the North East is that the zone is the most devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency and one of the poorest regions on earth according to the United Nations Report. The UN assessment is based on access to water, education, electricity, healthcare service, infrastructure etc.
Unlike the North Central which has produced the Senate President including Senator David Mark who is completing his eight years as Senate President, the North East has never produced president of Nigeria and Senate President.
A source said the North East is the most marginalized geo-political zone in terms of political patronage.
“I think North East should be compensated with the position of the Senate President,” the source affirmed.
In the presidential election, North East produced the largest results next to North West where President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari hails from.
North East also produced 13 senators in the March 28 parliamentary election and took over Bauchi and Adamawa from PDP. The governorship race for Taraba State is on-going.
In the North Central Geo-Political Zone, Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume (Benue State) and Senate Committee Chairman on Environment and Ecology, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki are leading the race for the office of the Senate Presidency.
While Akume served as Governor of Benue State between 1999 and 2007 his counterpart in Kwara State also served as Governor between 2003 and 2011. Both of them won election to the Senate after completing their second term as governors.
Despite the fact that incumbent Senate President Senator David Mark (Benue State) is from North Central they argued that the votes from North Central led to the victory of APC in the presidential election producing, hence the need for the party to compensate the zone with the position of the Senate presidency.
It is possible that the leadership of APC may succumb to the pressure from the North Central and zone the Senate Presidency to their geo-political zone. However, pundits argued that the level of struggle for the office of the Senate President by Senator Georg Akume (1953-12-27) representing Benue North West and Bukola Sarki (1962-12-19) Kwara Central Senatorial District may bring uneasiness to the Senate and subsequently lead to big crisis in the party if any of them emerges as the Senate President. The argument was that there is no indication that any of the contenders is willing to step down for each other and if the party forces any of them to step down, it will bring about disharmony between the duo which may be difficult to be settled.
A visit to the National Assembly by The Legislature an online newspaper on Tuesday with a view to access the on-going lobbying for the office of the Senate President, the paper observed that in the North East the major contenders are meeting each other with a view of producing one person should the party zone the office of the Senate Presidency to their geo—political zone. However, there is no indication such relationship exists between the contenders in the North Central.
This paper cannot confirm if the three major contenders, Senator Ali Ndume, Borno South, Senator Danjuma Guje, Gombe Central and Senator Ahmed Lawan Yobe North Senatorial District have been able to produce a single person for the office of the Senate President if the party eventually zone it to their geo-political zone. However, Senator Ndume was seen in the office of Danjuma Goje with a view to seek his support for the race. This does not mean Goje has agreed to step down for him. Senator Ahmed Lawan was also later seen with Senator Ndume with each of them wearing a smiling face but this paper cannot verify what transpired between the duo.
While Senator Ahmed Lawan (1959-01-12) is the Chairman Senate Committee on Public Account Senator Danjuma Goje (1952-10-10) is the Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream. Senator Aliyu Ndume (1959-11-20) is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Both Senator Lawan and Senator Goje had severed at various capacity as leader and deserve to become Senate President. But one of the common traits of the duo which pundits argued will put them behind Ndume is that they are very aggressive. The pundit argued that the office of the Senate President is too sensitive and should be left in the hand of person that is always composed and calmed even in the troublous time.
The pundits maintained that Senator David Mark made history as the longest serving Senate President in Nigeria because of his humility, patriotism and pragmatism. They also argued that he succeeded because he is negotiator, strategist and diplomat and not necessarily being aggressive on national issues. They also see Senator Ndume as pro-masses senator.
Apart from personal characteristics which put Senator Ndume in vantage position ahead his two friends, it emerged recently that Ndume though in the North, he remains a political boy to the strong man of Yoruba politics, Senator Ahmed Tinubu. Senator Ndume who also served as Minority Leader in the House of Representatives (2007-2011) is being admired by President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari because of his acceptability in both National Assembly and his zone, North East.
Another factor that will favour Ndume if APC eventually zone the Senate Presidency to the North East is that the battle for the race in the region has almost been pruned down to Yobe and Borno State. During the APC convention where the party national leaders emerged, Yobe is given the position of National Secretary of the party. The position was then zoned to the Norht East, particularly, Yobe and Borno Borno had to give up in order to allow a Yobe indigene occupy the position. Now that the battle is almost between Yobe and Borno, it is the turn of Yobe to give up in order to allow Borno produce the next Senate President.