A meeting of senior members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, called to resolve issues concerning the zoning of top offices in the incoming majority party in the National Assembly ended in a deadlock, Wednesday night.
The meeting came to a deadlock on account of the tussle between leaders of the North-East and South-West for the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The leaders at the meeting, nevertheless, agreed on the zoning of the office of Senate President to the North-Central and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, to the South-East.
Meanwhile, returning members of the House of Representatives were, yesterday, understood to have forged a consensus on breaking the deadlock by throwing up two of the returning members as their choice for speaker and deputy speaker. Sources in the House confided in Vanguard last night that the returning members have thrown up outgoing minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila and Yakubu Dogara for either speaker or deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.
Among those that attended the meeting on Wednesday night at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge on Hassan Usman Katsina Street, Asokoro, Abuja were President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd); Vice-President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; party leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; governors-elect, senators-elect as well as some executive officers of the party.
Deadlock over zoning of speakership position
Vanguard gathered that besides reaching a consensus on the Senate Presidency which it zoned to North-Central, the meeting reached a deadlock on the issue of the Speaker as both supporters of the zoning of the office to the North-East and the South-West maintained their grounds.
A source, who was in the meeting, said the meeting at one stage degenerated to a hot verbal exchange between the supporters of the two zones. The development, it was gathered, forced the meeting to mandate the president-elect and the vice-president-elect to resolve the issue on a later date.
A senior member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, who was present at the meeting, however, played down developments at the meeting as he said what took place was not a formal meeting.
He said: “We have not held our NEC and our NEC is going to resolve all these issues, so there is no need for anxiety.”
Returning Reps members root for Gbajabiamila, Dogara
Meanwhile, returning members elected on the platform of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are said to be urging the APC to produce either the outgoing minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila and Yakubu Dogara for either speaker or deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.
The members were said to have passed on the message that they would be comfortable with either of them as speaker and the other as deputy. Gbajabiamila is from Lagos State while Dogara is from Bauchi State, the two zones that are in contention for the speaker.
However, speaking to journalists, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, pleaded that the party should consider the North-East in zoning the position of speaker of the House of Representatives.
He said: “You see, the North-East produced the second largest vote for APC during the last election and if you are looking for people that will be consistent for being in opposition all this while, Borno and Yobe in particular have been consistent in opposition. Now that the power has shifted from the former majority party, PDP, to the opposition and we happened to be there, that is one reason.
“Secondly, we are the most devastated in terms of the level of insurgency and marginalization during this political dispensation. Thirdly, North-East is among the poorest regions on earth according to the United Nations Human Development Indices. Because of her natural position, we will need to be placed in the power kitchen whereby we will not be lacking.
“Because we were marginalized, we are in a desperate need to ensure that he who is in the kitchen will never stay hungry. But I told you that all these are statistics. And lastly in the last election, North-East produced the second largest votes and then we took over two states from the PDP — Bauchi and Adamawa — and we are hopeful that we will take over Taraba.
“So, looking at these credentials now, they qualify us to get the highest possible office that is available. That is our argument but if the party has other considerations, then we will look at it.”