Why Buhari prefers Gbajabiamila, Lawan, Taraba insists on producing APC scribe.
The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North-central, Mr. Ahmed Suleiman Wambi, has given reasons President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders settled for Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In an interview with reporters in Abuja, Wambi explained that the decision was in the interest of the nation.
The APC chief claimed that excellence, loyalty, and experiences in the affairs of the legislature by the duo informed President Buhari’s support.
“We have not given Lawan the position of Senate President because he is from North-east or Gbajabiamila Speaker because he is from South-west but based on the performance of the party, based on the contribution and loyalty. There was a time Mr. President sent a budget to the National Assembly and that proposal was kept there for about seven months. Gbabiamila and Lawan were the ones fighting and because of that, they received a lot of frustration, traumatization, and intimidation from the present leadership of the National Assembly.
“So, do you think the party and Mr. President should not reward those people? No. We said that despite the fact that the North-west has the president, the South-west has the vice president, the Senate president is zoned to the North-East, Mr. President felt we should reward Gbajabiamila based on his compelling loyalty and his experience.
“Mr. President prefer these people because of their past experiences. We are not saying that there is nobody in the North-central that is qualified, no, but the issue is that there are certain considerations. We fought for the zone to get the deputy speaker in the House of Reps and also majority leader in the Senate.”
On whether the APC considered religion and zonal balancing into the consideration, bearing in mind that the president’s anointed candidates (Lawan and Gbajabiamila) are also Muslims, he retorted: “You do not understand the political dynamism of our country. Do you think if we concentrate on religion this country will move forward? We go for excellence sometimes. We go for those people who can key into the project of change and deliver.
“What do you mean by sensitivity? Between APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which one is more sensitive? Do you think Islam or Christianity can provide solutions to problems of Nigeria? We should no longer discriminate against anybody who has something to offer. The moment a nation starts thinking about where someone comes from or the religion he or she practices such a nation is doomed.”
When reminded that some of his members from the North-central are scheming for the position of speaker, Wambai insisted that the South-West would definitely produce the next Speaker of the House.
He noted: “I share the assertion that things should be given to any region based on their contribution and acceptance. But in politics, you may not get what you sometimes think is yours because of certain pecuniary reason and expediency.
“But as far as I am concerned, the consideration should be given based on merit. Having produced the senate president for the past 12 years, the North-central should allow other zones to produce the speaker since we are not the only zone.”
Also, an APC support group has accused the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party of marginalizing Taraba, insisting that the next national secretary must come from the state.
At a press briefing yesterday, the leader of the APC group, Abdulhamid Yazeed, said: “Taraba State has been grossly marginalized in the party’s National Working Committee, hence the need for the post of the national secretary to be zoned to the state. “
The group urged the North East zone of the party to forward the name of Muhammed Bello Mustapha from Taraba as the consensus candidate to fill the vacancy occasioned by the emergence of Mai Mala Buni as Yobe State governor-elect.
Yazeed described as unnecessary the struggle for the position between Yobe and Borno states, stating that Taraba is the only state in the Northeast zone that has never produced any member of the APC NWC since inception.
“We believe whatever comes to the North East zone must be shared accordingly to the six states in the region. Adamawa, Yobe and Borno have had their fair shares of party appointments, but Taraba has never got anything in APC leadership,” he said.
Stakeholders in the Southeast APC meanwhile have alleged “undue interference and unwholesome meddlesomeness” in the affairs of the party in the zone by external forces with the aim of splitting the members for selfish interests.
In a statement issued after their meeting in Enugu at the weekend, the zonal APC leaders urged party members to resist such and implored those involved to promptly discontinue the plan to be able to build one united and strong family.
Earlier at the meeting, the National Vice Chairman of APC in Southeast, Mr. Emma Enukwu, who spoke on how “undue interference” by some forces in the zone affected the performance of the party in the last elections, alleged that several forces were deployed against members of the party.
“We were boxed to a corner by the ruling party in the zone. We had come into the elections prepared to make the needed marks for the APC, but whatever was available in the arsenal of the people we were fighting with were deployed against us, and to a large extent, this affected the morale of our members, and the outcome is what we are seeing today.”
Enukwu said that the ugly development was more disheartening when those who wanted the party out of the race sustained factions among its members in almost every state in the zone.
At the meeting, the Southeast APC members asked the national leadership of the party to revisit the zoning of principal offices in the Ninth National Assembly in the interest of national unity as well as deepening democratic tenets.
They canvassed the distribution of the offices in a manner that will accord deserving positions to the Southeast zone, considering that the Federation of Nigeria rests on the six geo-political zones.
The stakeholders urged the national leadership to draw strength from the need to utilize the zoning of the principal offices in the National Assembly to deepen the electoral appeals of the APC, especially in parts of the country where the party is weak.
At the meeting attended by the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; his Labour and Employment counterpart, Chris Ngige; Senator-elect, Orji Uzo Kalu; House of Reps members, Nkiriuka Onyejocha, Chika Okafor and Nnanna Ugokwe, among others, the stakeholders said APC should remain a truly national party with broad-based support in all parts of the country.
The meeting noted the ongoing campaign for various principal offices in the National Assembly and endorsed the aspirations of the members, even as it advised that their individual pursuits should be guided by the overriding need to preserve party cohesion, strengthen collective group interest and promote discipline.
As a way of strengthening the party after the elections, the meeting set up committees on reconciliation headed by Dr. Emeka Wogu and Onu.