All is still not well with the All Progressives Congress, APC, on its inability to resolve the impasse created by various yearnings of the geopolitical zones of the country to produce the senate president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
For two weeks running, members of the party have been inundated with intrigues and horse trading on the issue. The National Working Committee, NWC, met twice penultimate week to resolve the issue but it was deadlocked.
Alternatively, a leadership meeting of the party was summoned on May 22 at Rivers State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja to reach a compromise but that was still far fetched.
The only ruse brokered by the party was on the Senate Presidency which was eventually zoned to the north central.
Vanguard investi-gations revealed that some verbal ‘fisticuffs’ ensued among party members present at the meeting when suddenly the south west vested interest in the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives which had earlier been conceded to the north east.
Sources privy to the meeting confided in Vanguard that the altercation reached a crescendo and forced the meeting to an abrupt end. But not without the intervention of some stakeholders including the president-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari who was present.
To further calm frayed nerves, the meeting asked Buhari and the national chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun to fathom ways of resolving which zone to cede the speakership to.
It was also learnt that the idea of including former interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and the Vice President-elect, Professor Yemi Osibanjo on the committee was rejected by most members who submitted that it would be crowded.
With that, the meeting ended and attention was later shifted to Buhari and Oyegun.
But one week after the subcommittee was formed, the president-elect and the national chairman are yet to come up with a solution.
A source revealed that Buhari’s disposition since APC’s electoral victory, has been to give free hand to the incoming federal lawmakers to choose their leaders without much recourse to zoning or external interferences.
It was also learnt that Buhari/Oyegun committee would never hold as it would be too dangerous to persuade any zone to drop its ambition having gone this far.
This means that the zones might be slugging it out on the Inauguration Day.
Tinubu/Akume’s tango on senate presidency
Vanguard learnt that until last week, the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had invested heavy interest in the Senate minority leader, Mr. George Akume from Benue State to emerge as the next senate president.
But the insistence of the North east to produce the Speaker of the House as against the interest of South west from where Tinubu has positioned the outgoing Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has made Tinubu to rescind his decision to support Akume.
Tinubu’s u-turn, however, was remotely orchestrated by Buhari’s stance on working with people with healthy social life styles.
Enter Senator Bukola Saraki
Another contestant of the senate number one seat is Bukola Saraki from Kawara State. At the moment, the pendulum is swinging to his side but again, it was gathered, the camp of the APC national leader is not comfortable with his candidacy.
One of the reasons being bandied around is that Saraki is “arrogant”. But many people feel his “arrogance” is likened to giving a dog a bad name to hang it.
In their perspective, Saraki has a mind of his own and may not be easily tossed around by Tinubu or even Buhari when elected Senate President.
But again, feelers say Buhari is not disposed to work with anyone who has pending issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Tinubu dumps Akume, goes for Ahmed Lawan.
To stop the candidacy of Hon. Yakubu Dogari from Bauchi State who is gunning for the House Speakership, Tinubu has obviously deserted Akume and shopped alternative from north east.
His newest catch now is the Chairman, Senator Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State.
To the chagrin of many people, Senator Remi, Tinubu’s wife last week openly campaigned for Lawan on the floor of the senate, registering a general impression that the table has turned against Akume.
According to sources, the aim of the Tinubus is to dislodge Dogari who appears to be leading in the speakership contest, given the feeling that the north east cannot produce both the senate presidency and the speaker.
The impeding showdown
An APC source told Vanguard on Friday that Tibunu’s insistence on Gbajabiamila would be roundly resisted by APC members.
But Should the idea eventually sail through, the source who craved anonymity said a Tambuwal scenario where the members jettisoned the then PDP’s preferred choice, Hon. Akande Adiola in 2011 and went for a more credible and acceptable candidate, Aminu Tambuwal, would be repeated.
Emergency of Legacy/Equity Groups
Already, the seemingly unhealthy developments have thrown up divisions in the National Assembly.
Members are now forced to realign with their old blocs in the face of Tinubu’s unyielding disposition in the power sharing.
Groups have emerged. While founding members of APC head for Legacy Group, the group of G5 Governors and G37 lawmakers also called New PDP, nPDP which defected from the PDP to APC have formed Equity Group.
Recall that APC was a product of legacy parties made up of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP, Congress for Progressives Change, CPC and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA involving Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
“For Instance, many have started thinking that the former ACN has produced the Vice President-Elect, Professor Yemi Osibanjo who is Tinubu’s candidate. Conceding the Senate Presidency to him using either Akume or Lawan and the House Speakership using Gbajabiamila would mean that ACN has got everything leaving almost nothing for other parties except CPC which has produced the president-elect, General Buhari. So, what happens to ANPP and APGA?” A source asked.
Similarly, the Equity group which is populated by former members of PDP are now reaching out to their colleagues in the PDP for support.
“The is likely to be the scenario you will use. And I can tell you that with this arrangement, the PDP senators will queue behind Saraki and Dogari to spite Tinubu.
“Remember that it is just a difference of 11 Senators in the senate while in the House, you have 139 PDP members. Besides, Section 50 of the constitution stipulates that members should elect their leaders. So, it is not for the party to dictate. That was exactly how Tambuwal emerged. And I tell you that the scenario may repeat itself if care is not taken”, the source added.
According to the source, the mission is to save Nigeria from one man’s grip. He argued that allowing one man to produce the Vice President, senate president and the speaker of the House of Representatives may spell doom for the country.
South east caucus of APC pleads Buhari for speaker/Deputy
Meanwhile, the race for the speakership assumed an interesting dimension when the south east caucus on Thursday indicated interest in the speakership of the House.
At a meeting with Buhari, the leader of the group, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha pleaded that with their 3 members-elect, the zone should be considered for speakers.
But where that fails, Okorocha said, they should be considered for the deputy speaker of the House.
At the moment, all the camps; Gbajabiamila, Dogari and Saraki, Lawan are seriously wooing their PDP counter-parts.
Vanguard can authoritatively report that meetings are being held at the Lagos Hall of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja where Saraki and Dogara are perfecting their plans.
But against this backdrop, a south west source who has sympathy for his people warned that if APC wants to end its rule at just one term of 4 years, it should shove the zone out of the speakership.
“If APC wants to end in 2019, let them give the north east the Speakership after giving the Senate President to North East or North central and see”, he said.