The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress failed to take a decision on the zoning of the senate presidency and speakership of the 10th National Assembly during its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
The National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, disclosed that the NWC could not take a position on the zoning arrangement without the input of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was away in Port Harcourt to inaugurate some projects executed by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, at the time of the meeting.
The four-hour meeting, which started at about 1 pm was presided by Adamu with no fewer than 18 of the 24-member NWC in attendance.
The parley was expected to lay to rest the speculations about the zone that would produce the principal officers of the 10th National Assembly.
While the South-East and South-South lawmakers believed it is equitable to award the Senate Presidency to their zones, their Northern counterparts are insisting that only the parameters of competence and experience mattered.
Addressing newsmen after the end of the parley, the chairman disclosed that they had a meaningful deliberation that further connotes that the party leadership remains more formidable and united.
Adamu said, “The outcome of our four-hour meeting: We came out more formidable and united than anything. The zoning of presiding officers of the National Assembly that some of you are asking about is not what today’s meeting is all about. When we want to do zoning, we don’t just go alone as a party.
“Zoning is to take along the person who has the mandate of the country, the president-elect in the person of Ahmed Bola Tinubu. We have to take him along. He travelled after the elections and came back only last week. We have to carry him along.
“Also, we cannot stop those who are ambitious with zonal, individual or institutional interests. We cannot deny them. For as long as that is there, we have to find a persuasive manner to get some level of consensus. That is what we are working on. It is not a one-day affair.”
In a similar vein, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, re-echoed the sentiments of the chairman when asked about the outcome of the NWC meeting.
Morka also confirmed that a committee, comprising five of the six NWC zonal chairmen, has been formed to resolve the lingering feud between Adamu and Lukman as well as address the concerns raised by the Kaduna politician.
He said, “Amongst all of the issues discussed at the meeting, we look at some internal and domestic housekeeping matters with a colleague that you know who has expressed his concerns about something he believes the party should be doing. We deliberated fully about it.
“As we speak, a committee that was set up to complete that conversation is in progress right now. So, there is still a meeting that is ongoing that I am supposed to be part of to fully rectify that discussion and offer final recommendations on that subject.
“But I am happy to report that the party stands united behind the leadership of the National Chairman of our party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu. We are all standing together. The concerns raised by our colleague (Lukman) who has concerns, are being looked into. And I think in due course, we will have very specific conclusions from those discussions.”
When asked to explain why the ruling party was delaying the decision on the zoning of the Senate presidency, speaker and other principal offices, Morka noted that it wasn’t deliberate as was being speculated.
He added, “We are not wasting time. There is no timeline to do so. The zoning is something that the party does. It is a mechanism by which the party is able to make decisions and afford those who are interested in competing for power in the leadership of the 10th National Assembly to do so seamlessly with a minimum rift and rancour.
“So there is no timeline to that. We are not in a hurry. We want to do it right. You also heard the chairman say it required very exhaustive consultation. Not just from the leadership of the party but also from those who are aspiring so that whatever the party comes up with, by way of formula, will be acceptable with minimum friction. It is important that the consultation is done and it is done properly. That is what is going on right now.”
Multiple sources who provided more insight into the party’s plans for zoning of National Assembly offices explained that the APC was planning to plead with ambitious aspirants to settle for the consensus option.
A source said, “Despite the long list of agenda, which was not released to any member of the National Working Committee until minutes before the commencement of the meeting, the party leadership only deliberated on the leadership crisis in APC South-South, consensus candidates in place of zoning and an appeal for the National Vice Chairman for North-West, Mallam Salihu Lukman, to save the party from embarrassment by withdrawing his lawsuit.’’
Lukman had dragged Adamu and the APC National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore, to court for breach of the party Constitution.
In what looked like a counter-move, the National Legal Adviser, Ahmad El-Marzuq, also wrote a legal opinion to Adamu four days ago recommending severe punishment for Lukman, including expulsion for taking the party to court.
Another source said, “The four-hour crucial meeting was a very heated session. In the end, Lukman was asked to withdraw the lawsuit and tender an apology to the party. You can see from his face when he came out of the meeting that he wasn’t too pleased with the decision.
“However, a committee has been set up to reconcile the warring parties. The zoning issue was also discussed briefly but I understand they agreed on a meeting with Asiwaju to convince him to persuade the lawmakers vying for different positions to allow the party to settle for consensus candidates.’’
Meanwhile, the National Vice Chairman for North-East, APC, Salihu Mustapha, told reporters that Lukman has agreed to withdraw his suit against Adamu and Omisore to allow peace to reign.
Mustapha stated going by the chains of events in the last couple of months, the ruling APC will no longer tolerate indiscipline from any party member or supporter.
He said, “We are here to intimate you of the proceedings we had after the national working committee and we had intimate consultations with our brother, the National Vice Chairman North West, Comrade Salihu Lukman on issues you are aware of, like the legal action and some other publications credited to him and we can reach the resolution that this suit is going to be withdrawn and unconditionally he has rendered his apology for any seeming embarrassment this his suit and publications may have caused.
“We want to affirm the fact that we are one indivisible committee and we would continue to work together and also try to see that we achieve all the inspiration of the ideal working committee or the ideal party.’’
‘’We will resolve through the instrumentality of the party because parties are not run on the pages of newspapers, nor are they run on the screens of television but they are being run administratively and we will continue to do that as one house.’’
Speaking on the suspension of some party officials by some state chapters of the party, Mustapha warned that the APC would not condone such acts of indiscipline.
He stated, “Also, we want to reiterate the fact that this party will not condone indiscipline where one or two people of one organ that is not qualified will just sit and say they have suspended or expelled one of our members. A case study of what happened in the South-South.
‘’This party will not tolerate it and we are looking into investigating the matter we will ensure that we bring to book individuals or organs that engaged in this kind of irregularities without following our constitution.’’
Meanwhile, members-elect of the House of Representatives in minority parties have resolved to set up a committee to search for candidates of the opposition to run for Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the coming 10th National Assembly.
The coalition of minority caucuses, under the auspices of the 10th Assembly: Greater Majority, after its closed-door meeting in Abuja on Tuesday night, restated its resolve to test its numerical strength by contesting against the ruling All Progressives Congress for the seat of speaker and deputy speaker
Convener of the coalition, Fred Agbedi (PDP/Bayelsa), read out the communiqué of the meeting in the early hours of Wednesday.
The communiqué read, “At the meeting held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on the 2nd of May 2023, the members resolved as follows:
“To contest the Offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Representative of the National Assembly.
“That we have resolved to set up an 11-man committee to scout for a credible and acceptable candidate that would vie for those offices, and then actively seek the unification of Nigerians along ethno-religious lines.’’