Nigeria’s president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, held a meeting with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some National Assembly members on Wednesday over the zoning of the leadership of the incoming 10th National Assembly.
It was gathered that Tinubu did not accept proposals made by some members of the APC leadership and three South West senators for the Senate Presidency to be zoned to the South-South.
Tinubu, it was learnt, told the meeting that he was only disposed to having the number three office zoned to the South and not to any particular zone.
According to reliable sources, Tinubu said that since APC members stood for the zoning of the presidency to the South and not to any of the three zones in the area, which produced him as a presidential candidate and president-elect, it was wrong to propose zoning the post of Senate President to South-South only.
It was gathered that Tinubu said zoning the post to the South will give all the qualified aspirants from South East and South South the opportunity go into a fair contest for senators to make their choice, just like APC delegates picked the presidential candidate of the party prior to the election.
The president-elect told the meeting to avoid a controversy that would cause a crisis in the party, directing the party stakeholders to go back and amend their recommendations to be the zoning of Senate President to the South.
He reiterated his preference for fairness, equity, and religious and regional balancing as his benchmark for the constitution of the National Assembly leadership.
Sources revealed that elements around Senator Godswill Akpabio had infiltrated the APC NWC to influence members to push for the micro-zoning of the office of Senate President to the South-South.
The Akpabio camp, it was gathered, was hoping that if this scales through, the Akwa Ibom senator, being the only ranking APC senator from the zone, will become the sole candidate.
A source privy to the meeting said, “The plot to have a sole South-South candidate by zoning the office to the zone failed flat with President-elect, who, in his wisdom, rejected pressures by some members of the party leadership and the Southwest senators for the zoning of the Senate presidency to the South-South.
“There’s no truth in all that was reported in the media that the President and the NWC have settled for South-South. The President insisted that the position should be zoned to the South region.”
Further dismissing the claim, a senator-elect who pleaded anonymity, stated that contrary the claim of the three senators from the South West, the majority of elected lawmakers from the zone and other senators have queued behind the current Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who hails from the South-East geopolitical zone.
He said, “The three senators from South West lied to the president-elect Tuesday night that all of them from the zone were supporting Akpabio for Senate President, but Asiwaju couldn’t be fooled. He cross-checked the claim by reaching out to the other senators-elect only to discover it was untrue.
“As South-westerners, we have good relationship with all Nigerians and these three senators cannot speak for us. They are not our leaders and cannot take South-west senators for granted. Our leader is a former governor who is also a senator.
“For us, we have resolved to do the right thing for the country since it’s the only way Asiwaju (president-elect) can succeed as president. We have chosen to support fairness and justice as this country is built on a tripod – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
“We are happy that the president-elect did not listen to them because he is not petty. He likes fairness and he wants to do the right thing. The 12 senators from the South-west already have a preferred candidate. We have 11 senators and one ranking senator who have endorsed Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for president and Senator Sani Musa for Deputy Senate President.
“The northern senators and southern senators believe in the leadership of these two senators and there is no going back. The good news is that Asiwaju has strong character and will stand firm on his personal convictions.”
Meanwhile, the majority of senators-elect in the APC, it was gathered, are rooting for Kalu to lead the 10th Senate, while those from the North said the former governor of Abia State stands out, considering his political background and vast experience.