Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) forum of ex-House of Representatives members, has cautioned the national leadership of the party to tactfully handle the election of the leadership of the National Assembly to avoid a repeat of the 2015 mistake which strained the executive-legislative relationship.
The forum appealed to the party’s leadership to move fast to douse any likely tension or rancorous situation that might arise from the clash of various interests, warning that if left unchecked in time, certain individuals might take positions similar to what happened in 2015.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, spokesperson of the forum, Idris, Yahuza Yakubu, noted that it was high time the party took a decision on the zoning arrangements for the principal officers before it became too late.
While pledging to intervene and assist the party at all times, the former lawmakers believe that the party must be guided to toe the line of equity and fairness, suggesting that the cognate experience, party loyalty and acceptability among colleagues should be paramount.
They further suggested that considering the fact that the North West and South West already occupy the position of president and vice president, the North East has been given the position of senate president, the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives should go to the North Central zone.
“As the APC tries to consolidate on its recent successes, the party must not lose focus, but do all it can to stay on track by putting in place a structure that will support its programmes for improving on the lots of the people. The eye of the public and indeed the international community are on us to see if we can translate this victory into something tangible for the entire nation and more importantly, if we can put our acts together to create the enabling environment.
“The foundation for building a cohesive and united Nigeria stands on the tripod of equity, justice and fairness and this is where those of us who have been elected to the House of Representatives in the past, who have seen how the different arms of government operate have decided to advise our beloved party on how best it can go about addressing the current agitations for geopolitical balancing in allocating the remaining top positions that would determine the shape of the next administration and engender a harmonious executive–legislature relationship for the good of the nation.
“You will recall that in 2015, the APC made the mistake of not paying enough attention in the election of the leadership of the National Assembly and how the party nearly paid dearly for it by having to constantly battle with a hostile legislature since its leaders were not products of the party’s internal democratic arrangement.
“The APC as the ruling party, cannot afford to make that mistake again by leaving the choice of those to assume leadership positions in the National Assembly to chance. It is our strong view that the party must step forward to provide political direction to its elected members at the National Assembly by zoning all the leadership positions to specific zones and where possible states.
“This we believe, will douse the unnecessary tension being generated in the bid by individual members from the different geopolitical divides of the country to aspire to those positions and avoid further digging of trenches which the party cannot afford at this stage.
“It is high time the party took a decision on this to make its stand known to the members of the party in time so as to prevent a repeat of the 2015 scenario where it was unable to stop vested interests who had gone too far in their campaigns by the time the party decided to step in.
“If the varied interests are not streamlined in time and individuals are allowed to take hard line positions, it will be difficult for the party to make them reverse without causing further frictions. The former members of the House of Representatives elected on APC platform, are ready to support the party in ways that could be considered fair and just by all within the party.
“As a way of guiding the party to toe the line of equity and fairness, we suggest consideration should be given to cognate experience, party loyalty and acceptability among colleagues. But most importantly, consideration should be given to zones where the party performed well and where it is strategically important for the growth of the party.
“In taking a decision, the party must also take note that the North West and the South West already have the president and the vice president respectively and they need to give the other zones a sense of belonging to deepen its faith and commitment to the party.
“Going by the pronouncement in the media that the Senate presidency has been zoned to the North East, it then requires that the party goes the whole hog by doing same in respect of all other leadership positions, at the minimum the presiding officers of the two chambers.
“Our considered opinion is that the deputy senate presidency should be zoned to the South East/South-South, the speaker to the North Central and the deputy speakership to the South- south/South West.
“Members-elect must be ready to see the intervention of the party as necessary whether it agrees with their aspirations or not because at the end of the day, it is the party’s platform that matters.
“Major stakeholders in the party should also be prepared to guide their people on the principle of party supremacy and on the fine points about internal party democracy. That way, the APC would succeed in laying the foundation for a better Nigeria through the instrument of a well-structured party that has the interest of its people at heart,” the forum suggested.