By Nwangwu Uba
The All Progressive Congress, APC, National Working Committee, NWC, at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, appears to have finally adopted the Principal officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives without any position being allocated for the south east geo-political region, comprising of Abia, Anambra, Eboyi, Enugu and Imo states.
Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state who had championed President Muhammadu Buhari re-election bid by moving from state to state and reaching out to prominent Nigerians including Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, a retired Army General and former Head of State at his Hill top mansion, Minna, Niger state , to drum their support for him, had expected that the Katsina state born Nigerian President will support him to contest for the Deputy Senate President to represent the interest of the south east. He got it wrong.
Unknown to him the party NWC and the Presidency, have shared the principal offices of the National Assembly without any position being reserved for the south east. The position of the Senate President was allocated to the north east and Ahmad Lawan, a ranking Senator from Borno state was adopted by the Committee at in the instance of the President to be the party Candidate to contest for the position on the floor of the Senate.
The Committee was said to have also adopted ,Omo-Agege, another ranking Senator, from Delta state , south-south geo-political region as the Candidate for the Deputy Senate President. The decision to adopt the Delta state born politician, was said to have been reached by the Committee after its emergency meetings held on Saturday and Sunday , June 8 and 9, 2019, respectively, at the party National Secretariat in Abuja.
Note that Omo-Agege was the only elected Senator from the Delta on the platform of the APC, in the February 23, 2019, National Assembly election. He has been a strong loyalist of Buhari in the Senate that he was always running into trouble with the Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state, led Senate.
The Senators had expected Ibrahim Idris, then Inspector General of Police, IGP, deploy policemen to arrest him but he was rather escorted out of the National Assembly, NASS, Complex and quickly put inside a black Toyota Hilux pick up van, thus fueling speculations that it was a well organised plot by the government to cause confusion in the Senate and facilitate the removal of Saraki as Senate President.
The Mace was said to have been found where it was hidden and the Senators conveyed for their plennary session. The return of Senator Omo-Agege to attend the plenary , few minutes he was escorted out of the NASS premises speaks volume.
Security sources confirmed that he was not arrested or detained as being speculated in certain quarters but simply taken away for security reasons. The Senate had asked Idris, the IGP, to investigate the Senator who was alleged to have led thugs to forcefully take away the Mace, which was a symbol of Authority, but it was not done.
Political Observers believe that Buhari may have thrown, the Delta state born politician for the position of Deputy Senate President to Compensate for his loyalty in the eighth Senate. It was not surprising why he turned his back on Kalu, his old political ally, from the south east, who was also interested in contesting for the position on the floor of the Senate.
The Candidates adopted by the Committee to contest for the leadership of the House was not different from that of the Senate, dominated by the Candidates from the north and south west. The Committee has adopted Femi Gbajabiamila, a ranking House member, from Lagos state, south west geo-political region as the party Candidate for the Speaker of the House while Muhammed Idris Wase would contest as the Deputy Speaker .
Lanre Issa- Onilu, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said the Candidates who were adopted by the party NWC, would contest for the various elective offices of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Isa-Onilu , disclosed that the Committee had arrived at the decision following wide consultations with prominent party leaders including the President and Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the party National leader .
The President may have allowed Tinubu, the former Lagos state governor to nominate the Speaker of the Hose to avoid being accused of taking over the whole positions of the NASS, which people may see as an extension of the Presidency. Moreso, he did not want to lose the loyalty of the south politicians godfather. and give the opposition People’s Democratic, PDP, room m to spring a surprises in the NASS leadership election.
Perhaps to ensure that the PDP , will not get any position in the leadership of the Senate or the House, the President was said to have urged aggrieve party members who had earlier signified their interests in these Principal offices of the National Assembly to support the party adopted Candidates as” loyal and committed party members”.
Recall, that Muhammed Ali Ndume, a ranking Senator, from Borno state, and a one- time majority leader, in the Senate and Kalu, have vowed to go against the party decisions by contesting for the positions of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President on the floor of the Senate respectively.
Ndume believes that he is much better that Lawan, Buhari’s Candidate for the position of the Senate President because he could not be easily manipulated by any person. In the House, Umaru Bago, who has refused to step down to contest for the House Speaker is believed to have been mobilising and reaching out to the opposition PDP and other elected members to support his Candidacy today, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, inauguration of the National Assembly by the President.
The President may have known that without reaching out to the APC national Assembly lawmakers ahead of the inauguration, the PDP may play the spoiler’s role and the next four years will be a tug of war for him. Going the Saraki way, he was said to have met the Lawmakers with Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, Adams Oshiomhole, the party National Chairman and the NWC, members at Sheraton Hotel and Towers , Abuja. The governors , elected on the platform were also said to have been invited for the closed door meeting to drum their support for the party adopted Candidates for the leadership of the ninth NASS. The meeting which was held behind closed doors, according to party sources was aimed at putting finishing touches to the party’s plans to ensure that its adopted Candidates win all the various positions of the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives during the election today.
As a prelude to ensuring that mistakes of 2015, did not repeat itself, the APC, NWC, was said to have earlier met with the governors pleading with them to endorse Lawan and Gbajabiamila as its choice for the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House respectively. The President who appeared worried wants all his Candidates to win the leadership of the Senate and the House to have a smooth second term in office.
Many believe that the decision by the party NWC to scheme out the south east from the Principal position in the National Assembly ,may not be unconnected to the massive support given to Atiku Abubakar, the PDP, Presidential Candidate , in the February 23, 2019, Presidential election. The President and the party NWC,may have sent a signal to the people of the south east that they would not expect much in the present APC government in terms of appointments.
Analysts believe that both not for the Constitutional provision which allows for a minister to be appointed from each state of the Federation, the President would not have considered it necessary to appoint any Candidate for ministerial position from the region.
He would have preferred to make all his ministerial appointments from the north, south west and south-south geo-political regions . There is no gain saying the fact that the present APC Administration are controlled by the north and south-west political gladiators.Buhari, the President is from the north west, Osinbajo, the Vice President, is from the southwest geo-political region and now the Speaker of the House has been allocated to the region by the party NWC, also to satisfy the interest of the kingmakers .
Insiders believe that the APC king makers would have actualised he game plan of tactically scheming out the from the running of the government by ensuring that the four key positions of the Administration are occupied by two tribes, leaving out others, particular the ssouth east. Note that they may not have carried the south-south along to compensate region for the oil extracted from area which is the main stay of the economy.
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