One Party State: APC takes over Nigeria
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Olusesan Laoye 

There were  indications that the All Progressives Congress (APC) may be heading for a fresh crisis over the key positions at the coming 10th National Assembly. The party is still in  control with the highest number of elected members both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

During President Buhari’s eight year tenure, the head of the Senate had been a northerner – Bukola Saraki, North Central in the Eight Assembly, and Ahmed Lawn, from North East in the Ninth Assembly; while the Speaker of the House of Reps went to Southwest.

Now that the Southerner has eventually  emerged  the president-elect and the North the vice president-elect, the  clamour is for the South,  preferably, South  East and the South South,  to produce the Senate president,  while the Speaker of the  House of Reps  is expected  to go North.

Though  the party has not decided  any zoning arrangements  in sharing the National Assembly  positions, there  are now divergent views, as to where the key positions should go.
While some of the National Assembly members are of the position that the key posts be automatically conceded  to the  South East or South South’, there were  others, especially from Northern  members, say that the posts be left open for who ever has interest.

This division within the party, it was learned could lead to serious crisis as  all the interested  candidates from the two blocks are not relenting but determined  to fight it out in their favours.

With the latest developments, there appears to be more Northerners wanting the key offices at the National Assembly, despite the argument  that zoning should take a centre  stage in selecting  those who will occupy  the posts.

At present,  those jostling for the Senate  President positions  have risen to eight, namely Orji Uzor Kalu, Abia (SE), Barau Jibrin, Kano (NW), Sanni Musa, Niger (NC), Ali Ndume Borno (NE) Dave Umahi Eboyi (SE), Abdulaziz Yari, Zamfara (NW ) Goodswill Akpabio, (SS) and Osita Izunaso,  Imo (SE).

Those  who want to be  the Speaker of the House of Representatives are now  nine. Three  from North Central
are Ahmed Idris Wase, Plateau; Yusuf Gadji, also  from Plateau;’ and Abdulraheem, Kwara.

Others  from North West are Sada Soli, Jibia, (Katsina), Tajudeen Abbas  Kaduna, Abubakar  Makki Yellema, Jigawa, and Aminu Sanni Jaji, Zamfara. There is also Muktar Aliyu Betare from North East and Olaide Akinremi from Oyo.

With the rules at the National Assembly  all the contenders are qualified  because they  are all ranking members, who  are also holding  prominent positions as chairmen of various committees.

What is also  a major concern  is the religious  aspect  as those in favour of the South  wants Christians  to occupy the positions in both chambers especially, that of the Senate President, to favour the South East or the South South. In the two geopolitical zones, all the interested  candidates for the Senate President are Christians, while those from the North are Muslims, and with the president-elect and vice as Muslims, Christians reject the idea of having the Senate president as Muslims.

While  some argued  that  there was nothing  wrong if  the positions in  the Senate and House of Representatives,  are occupied  by Muslims, quoting what happened  when David Mark,  a Christian was the Senate  President and Ike  Ekweremadu   also a Christian was  his Deputy  and Patricia Ette also a Christian, was the Speaker of the House  of Representatives.

Since some of the members have come out  to make their intentions known,  the most vocal of them is Senator Ali Ndume, who openly  said he is qualified to be the Senate President.
Though his open declaration was not strange, as he has been nursing  the ambition for long, he was even in the race with Lawan from the same North East in 2019,  his allegation that some of his colleagues  in the race have resorted  to using money to buy the positions is now a very serious concern to Nigerians.

He said some of them are determined  to reduce the contest to cash-and- carry,  for the highest bidder, which he argued would not give room for competence in performance.

With the  current arguments,  especially  from the North,  the North West  is strongly interested, claiming  that  it has the highest elected members in  both  the Senate and the House of Representatives.  This is why  Barau from the North West, is  saying that the contest for who leads the 10th Senate  should be based  on competence  and experience.
His counterpart, Ndume from the North  East, is on the same page with him.

It was gathered that some of the Northern  aspirants for the Senate President position are so desperate  and they are now going about soliciting  the support of Emirs, leaders of all the political parties and some governors to back them. One of them is Wuse who was said to have met some Emirs and governors from the South West, North Central  and the North East.

It was said that the current  Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, is already gaining the support of the  Osun State  governor Ademola  Adeleke, that of Ogun, Dapo Abiodun,  Zulum of Borno and Aliero
With the  debate on where the positions in the National Assembly  should go, the odd is still in favour of the South East and South South  with Kalu and Akpabio in the lead for the Senate  President.

One of those in the APC who favoured the South East, specifically,  is the former Commissioner  of Information   in Kogi State, Tom Ohikere. According  to him, the South East  should be considered  for the Senate  President in the interest of  fairness and stability and unity in the APC, arguing that anything  to the contrary could divide the party.

According to Ohikere, “no ethno – religious or geo-political region has a monopoly of any political party and that permutations and political outcomes are usually the results of strategic negotiations and concessions.”

He said “the political scene is ever dynamic and constantly changing and success for a political party involves the ability to carry all factions along amicably.”

“The Southeast have an indignation towards the APC government over alleged marginalization. Politics is a dynamic game and the balance of yesterday cannot stand the realities of today. That is the push and pull of today.

Ohikere added “the South East APC have proven their worth in the general election against palpable odds, even clinching some senatorial seats in the southeast and S/ south states, such as Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Edo and Cross Rivers state.”

According to political analysts, the only zone in the country that can be a stumbling  block for the South East  or South South in clinching  the number  three position is the North West, which claimed that it should be compensated  for its performance  in the just concluded  general elections as the Zone with the highest numbers  of legislators in the National Assembly.

Also the North  Central is strongly agitating  for the  position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

But some  believed that if the APC is not careful  there could be a gang-up from all the opposition  political parties headed by the PDP to turn the table against  the APC in the National Assembly,  especially, in the Senate where the South is itching  to produce  the Senate President.

It was said that if the opposition  decides to pull the rug off APC’s  feet, the party could be in problem as  the opposition, with some aggrieved  members of the APC from the South, may defeat the APC to produce both positions, as was the case  in 2015.

Meanwhile  APC is now awaiting the arrival of Tinubu,  the President elect, to determine where the pendulum would swing  at the end of the day.
However, the incoming president is being warned to be very careful as not to be dragged into undue controversies  over the National Assembly  matters.

He was reminded  of the quagmire  the APC found itself in 2015 when  the leadership of the National Assembly was hijacked by  a group  within the party headed  by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the situation betrayed  the original plan.

What was regarded  as a coup then, produced Senator Bukola Saraki from the  North Central  as the Senate  President and Yakubu Dogara  as the  Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Though Buhari did not take kindly to that arrangement, he  went along with them without showing open displeasure, but sort of  avoided  them,  except during ceremonies and official functions.

This cold relationship  with the National Assembly  affected both the legislature  and the executive  and made most of the bills in the  eight Assembly  to suffer in the hands of  President Buhari and vice versa.

But things were different  in the 9th Assembly  which has up till June this year  to  wind  up. To some extent, the 9th  National Assembly  headed by both Lawan and Gbajabiamila is being regarded as a mere rubber  stamp  of the executive.

Although  the debate is still going on as to where these key positions at the legislative  arm of government would go,  a newly elected member of the upper chamber, Barrister  Sarafadeen Ali, who is going to represent Oyo South Senatorial District, in  Oyo State, told Business Hallmark  that no decision has been made as to where  any position would go, in the coming National Assembly.

He said that if any decision would be taken’ “we all have to await the collective  decisions of the leaders in the party, which would involve the out going President Buhari and the President-elect, Tinubu.

Also Senator Opeyemi Bamidele  representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District,  who just got re- elected into the 10th  Senate,  said that presiding officers of the National Assembly  should not  be based on zoning  alone but  competence and experience.

Bamidele argued that  some people are introducing religion, saying that  ethnicity  and religious  sentiments should not be allowed to go into  play in electing those that would lead at the National

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