Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Vice Chairman (North-Central), Ahmad Suleiman Wambi, has said the party settled for Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as senate president and Speaker of the ninth Assembly, respectively, because they are the choice of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Wambi revealed that the choice of the duo was basically because of their loyalty to the party despite intimidations from the current leadership of the eighth Assembly, arguing that religion was a secondary consideration.
“We have not given Ahmed Lawan the position of Senate President because he is from North East or Gbajabiamila, Speaker, because he is from South West but based on their contribution and loyalty to the party. There was a time Mr. President sent 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, traumatisation 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 the compelling loyalty and his experience.
“Mr. President prefers 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 deputy speaker in the House of Reps and also majority leader in the senate,” he said.
Asked whether the ruling APC put the religious balancing into consideration, bearing in mind that the president’s anointed candidates, Lawan and Gbajabiamila, are also Muslims, the APC chieftain said:
“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. Sometime, we go for those people who can key into the project of change and deliver.”
However, a group, the Middle Belt Youth Movement for Unity, Equity, Fairness and Justice, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leadership of the APC to reconsider zoning the position of Speaker of the House of to the South East.
Spokesperson of the group, Aaron Mike Odeh, said zoning the position to the South East will ensure unity, equity, fairness and justice.
“Before we forget, presently the current president is from the North East and the vice president from South West. To ensure unity, equity, fairness and justice, let the speakership of the ninth Assembly be zoned to the South-East.”