Despite the recent announcement regarding the zoning of leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), some members-elect from the North seemed to have made a U-turn as emerging fact indicates they are still pushing for a different agenda.
In the announcement by the APC, the position of the President of the Senate was zoned to the South South, with Godswill Akpabio as the preferred candidate. Barau Jibrin from North West, was favoured to emerge as Deputy President of the Senate.
In the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abass from North West was endorsed by the APC leadership as the preferred candidate for the position of the Speaker. Benjamin Kalu from South East got the nod to emerge as Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives.
Though there are still dissenting voices on the issue of micro-zoning, stakeholders in the ruling APC and other political parties, have agreed in principles that a Christian from the South should head the 10th Senate.
Their decision is based on the fact that the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his Vice-President, Kashim Shettima, are both Muslims. Similarly, the head of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Kayode Ariwoola, is also a Muslim.
Despite the aforementioned glaring realities, some former governors from the North and members of the National Assembly from the ruling party and the opposition have commenced a discreet campaign for Abdulaziz Yari from Zamfara State. Yari is also a Muslim.
The new Northern coalition, Saturday Sun reliably gathered, is spearheaded by a former presiding officer in the National Assembly, who is a top figure in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The former presiding officer, it was further learnt, is opposed to the ceding of the position of the President of the Senate to the South. In 2011, the top politician opposed President Goodluck Jonathan’s move to contest for the position of the President, insisting that it was the turn of the North to produce the late Umaru Musa Ya’Adua’s successor.
Again, in 2015, he joined forces with Northern elements to unseat Jonathan. In 2019, he ran and lost the ticket of his party. In 2023, despite a general consensus that power be ceded to the South, he ran for the position of the President but lost the ticket.
Some senators who have been approached by the presiding officer and other top politicians from the North, said they were told to support Yari and jettison the zoning position of the APC.
One of the senators-elect approached, who spoke with Saturday Sun, said Yari enjoys the support of key Northern senators-elect, who are plotting a repeat of 2015 when Bukola Saraki emerged as President of the Senate against the position of his former party, APC.
Another senator-elect said he was promised the chairmanship of an A-list committee if he would support the bid.
The returning senator warned that if aspirants from the South don’t close ranks and find a common front in the next couple of days, the North will produce the next President of the Senate, who will also be a Muslim.
According to him, a principal officer in the current Senate is among the arrowheads campaigning for a Senate President of Northern extraction in the 10th National Assembly.
However, one of the senators-elect approached said the South will revolt and resist any attempt by the North to produce a Muslim as President of the Senate.
He said Southern senators-elect will meet soon at an elaborate forum where other aspirants will be urged to close ranks and present a single candidate to counter Yari’s “desperate moves.”
Asked if the meeting would involved members of the opposition, he spoke in the affirmative. “Every senator-elect from the South will attend,” he said.
Speaking further, he noted: “You read a statement released by the leadership of the Northern Elders’ Forum, insisting that no one will force a candidate on the North. That is a preamble of what some of them are planning.
“Those who are expected to speak in favour of having a Christian as President of the Senate, are not talking. That should tell you something. Some people we didn’t expect are the ones leading Yari’s campaign and they’re shameless about it.
“They’re happy about the division among senators-elect from the South on who to support between Akpabio and others. This is the time for the South to speak up and unite. I’m sure they’ll do that. We’re meeting soon and th3se issues will be addressed.
“Although I’m not a member of the APC, I believe Tinubu will not allow it when he becomes President soon. He knows the controversy his ticket generated and if he wants to heal the wounds, he will stop Yari at all cost.
“The most surprising thing is that a former presiding officer is the one trying to convince his colleague to support a Muslim. How greedy can he be? This former presiding officer has always opposed anything that involves the South since 2011.
“I’m also calling on Akpabio to as well as other contenders from the South to have a frank talk together and resolve this unnecessary contest. We have a country to protect.”
(Courtesy, excluding headline, Saturday Sun)