9th Senate: Crack in APC widens
Fred Itua, Abuja and John Adams, Minna
Cracks in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the zoning of the various positions in the incoming 9th National Assembly has widened, as some members of the National Working Committee (NWC), have moved against the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
The party recently zoned the position of the senate president to the North East and endorsed the candidacy of Ahmad Lawan. For the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, it endorsed Femi Gbajabiamila from the South West while the North central is expected to produce the deputy speaker.
Daily Sun has authoritatively gathered that the party has zoned the position of the deputy president of the Senate to the South-south and endorsed Francis Alimekhena who hails from the same senatorial district with Oshiomhole for the position.
Although the party has not officially made the endorsement public, Daily Sun learnt that Alimikhena, who represents Edo North senatorial district, has been given the nod to commence campaign and reach out to his colleagues.
Alimikhena, incumbent deputy chief whip of the Senate, has reportedly been endorsed by the presidency.
Also jostling for the position of the deputy president of the Senate are Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia); Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta); Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos); Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano) and Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu).
A source who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence because he is not authorised to speak on the issue, said some members of the NWC of APC from the South-east, are protesting the exclusion of the geopolitical zone by the party.
According to the source, Oshiomhole have been accused of hijacking the party and running it as a private estate. The source claimed that Oshiomhole, in consultation with some members of the party, agreed on the zoning arrangement, without recourse to the NWC and the National Executive Committee (NEC) for ratification.
He blamed leaders of the South East APC for failing to lobby for any position as soon as the general elections were over. He said while leaders from other zones made cases for their interest, South East leaders did not speak up or lobby.
But the party spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, did not deny or confirm it.
“I can’t confirm or deny. Yes, I am a member of NWC, but I can’t confirm or deny it for now. The party will speak on that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ambition of Umar Mohammed Bago to become Speaker of the House of Representatives in the ninth National Assembly has suffered a major setback following the endorsement of Femi Gbajabiamila by the state chapter of the APC.
Bago, a third term federal lawmaker representing Chanchanga federal constituency of Niger State had earlier been endorsed by nine of his colleagues from the state, but the state chapter of the party after it emergency meeting at the weekend unanimously threw it weight behind “the party’s choice.”
However, Bago said he was not bothered by the endorsement of Gbajabiamila.
In a statement by the spokesman of his campaign organization, Afam Ogene, Bago said he is still in the contest as the decision on who will lead the Green Chamber will be made by the 360 Reps-elect.
He stated that his decision to be speaker is motivated by the quest to ensure that the people of North Central occupy a pride of place in the scheme of things in the next administration.
State chairman of the party, Alhaji Jibrim Imam, who presided over the meeting, dropped the “bomb shell” in Minna on Monday evening when he addressed an enlarged stakeholders meeting at the party secretariat.
Bago was absent at the meeting, but six of his colleagues who had earlier endorsed him were in attendance while two other members sent their apologies and promised to abide by any decision arrived at by the party.
Imam, who also said APC in the state is backing another party choice, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan for the position of the senate president, pointed out that the decision was informed by the outcome of a meeting held last Thursday in Abuja and attended by APC governors and party chairmen from the North Central zone.