AHEAD of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, President Bola Tinubu may have given the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, a definite assignment to ensure that double nominations were avoided in both chambers on that day.
Analysts, at the weekend, interpreted this to mean that the President believed that this was the only way the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) could win all relevant Principal Officers’ positions in the incoming National Assembly.
It was gathered that Tinubu gave the tall order at the Presidential Villa on Thursday night, just as the Presiding Officers were said to have told the President that there was no way a zoning arrangement which excludes the North-Central and gives two slots to the North-West would stand.
Recall there was a meeting between Tinubu and the duo of Lawan and Gbajabiamila at the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
Also recall that the APC had announced the endorsement of Senator Godswill Akpabio and three others for the topmost positions in the National Assembly. Akpabio from South-South was endorsed for Senate President, Senator Jibrin Barau from North-West for Deputy Senate President, Honourable Tajudeen Abass, North-West for Speaker, House of Representatives and Hon. Benjamin Kalu, South-East for Deputy Speaker.
The decision did not, however, go down well with some members of the party and especially those aspiring for the positions of Presiding Officers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives as there were protests, condemnations and strong criticisms across the country.
Consequently, the Senate Whip and a former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, a former Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, and Senator Osita Izunaso, among others, have continually kicked against the decision of the party while vowing to contest against the Akpabio/Barau ticket on Inauguration Day.
According to a source, Tinubu decided to come into the matter to find an amicable solution to the issue which was already creating tension among senators-elect following complaints about the zning arrangement of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The source said, “The President has given the duo of Senate President and Speaker a specific assignment to resolve the crisis created by the zoning of Presiding Officers’ positions announced by the All Progressives Congress leadership last month.
“The President wanted to avoid all forms of distractions and ill feelings among members-elect of the 10th National Assembly so that he could concentrate on the onerous task of providing good governance.
“The President is currently tackling the issue of dwindling revenue, poor infrastructure and epileptic power supply, among others, and he needed to concentrate on putting his team together.
“As we are all aware, the National Assembly is very critical. Since the APC has the highest number of members in both chambers, it was the President’s opinion that the leadership must not be imposed.”
It was also gathered that both Lawan and Gbajabiamila had asked all aspirants for Senate President and Speaker to put their houses in order to avoid rancour on the day of inauguration.
Against this backdrop, the Akpabio/Barau Stability Group met at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja on Thursday night for several hours.
Also the Senate Democratic Caucus, which parades Yari, Kalu, Izunaso and others as members, met at Destination Hotel in Wuse 2, Abuja.
A source at the Akpabio/Barau’s Stability Group meeting explained that most of the senators-elect who were invited failed to turn up.
The source said, “Invitations were sent out to all senators-elect by the Stability Group for the meeting, which was called by a prominent senator from the South-West but many of those invited did not turn up.
“It got to a point that some elders of the party like Aremo Olusegun Osoba and Abu Ibrahim were invited to the closed-door meeting, which had about 21 senators-elect in attendance.
Meanwhile, the meeting called by the Democratic Caucus group at the Wuse Zone two was held simultaneously.
A senator-elect from the North-East, who confirmed the development on the condition of anonymity, noted that the turnout of lawmakers-elect at the venue was highly impressive.
He said, “The meeting convened by the Senate Democratic Caucus had in attendance 57 senators-elect while about 16 others sent in their regrets.
“We are going to take the final decision on the matter on Tuesday (this week) and Nigerians will know that the zoning arrangement done by the APC had collapsed.”
It was also gathered that there were moves by the President and the leadership of the APC to tinker with the zoning arrangement as announced by the APC just as concerns were raised especially on the exclusion of the North-Central in the zoning made for both chambers of the National Assembly by the APC to ensure inclusivity, fairness and justice which may alter current permutations.