The battle for the principal offices of the National Assembly has taken another turn with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, withdrawing his support for the former Governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume, as his preferred candidate for the Senate presidency.
By jettisoning Akume, it is a clear indication that the North-central geopolitical zone may have lost out in its bid for the number one position in the National Assembly to the North-east zone.
THISDAY gathered that the former governor of Lagos and his wife, Remi Tinubu on Monday night decided to pitch their tents with Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State.
In withdrawing his support for Akume, Tinubu, sources informed THISDAY, offered him the choice of becoming the deputy Senate president, which Akume immediately turned down.
It was also learnt that in the meeting of the North-central caucus of the APC that also took place on Monday night, when they got wind of the Senate presidency being zoned to the North-east, the news did not go down well with the leaders of the zone.
According to APC sources, the North-central caucus frowned at the continued manipulation of the system by Tinubu without considering the input of the zone to the recent electoral success of the party.
A party source said senators and other elected officials of APC from the North-central zone were worried, considering the fact that the Middle Belt completely turned the zone from a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-dominated region to one controlled by APC.
“In the Middle Belt, Niger, Kwara, Benue, Plateau and Kogi were all PDP states, till they became APC states with the exception of Nasarawa State. Whereas, in the North-east, only Adamawa and Bauchi became APC states, as Yobe and Borno were hitherto APC states.
“So why is the national leadership of APC compensating the zone with the office of the Senate presidency? This is not how to reward victory.
“This also explains why Senator Akume turned down the offer for office of the deputy Senate presidency, as it would have been a sellout because of personal interests,” the source said.
Also at the Senate plenary yesterday, Remi Tinubu who is also a senator, caused a stir when she openly campaigned for Lawan to the surprise of other senators who were still under the impression that the Senate presidency was still zoned to the North-central geopolitical zone.
As the source put it: “To see Senator Remi Tinubu campaigning for Ahmed Lawan will tell you where the pendulum has swung. She is the wife of the national leader and certainly the wife cannot go against the husband.”
THISDAY gathered that North-central members of the APC including all the elected governors, senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives were planning to write a joint petition against the party’s move to zone the office of the Senate presidency to the North-east.
“This is not how to reward the zone that enhanced the political fortunes of APC,” the party source said, adding that all the interest of stakeholders must be protected at all cost, unless the party is looking for trouble.
Speaking on the various power blocs that make up the APC, the party source said President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, for instance, is representing the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC); Vice-President-elect Yemi Osinbanjo is representing the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); while the planned zoning of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to the South-east is to take care of the political interest of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
According to the source, “For the former governor, Tinubu, to be manipulating the political interest of other stakeholders would turn out to be the political albatross of the APC. All interests must be protected. This is one of the issues that the PDP was accused of and to allow it to happen in APC so early in the day, is to sow the seed of discord for the APC.”