President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has denied endorsing any candidate for the leadership positions of the National Assembly.
He said this at a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with National Assembly members-elect held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Scheming for the Senate presidency and the speaker positions has peaked since last week when certificates of return were issued to winners of the February 25 parliamentary elections.
Those who are eyeing the Senate president position include Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano), Godswill Akpabio (APC, Akwa Ibom), Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia), Sani Musa (APC, Niger) and Dave Umahi (APC, Ebonyi).
Contenders for the speaker position include deputy speaker of the house, Ahmed Idris Wase (Plateau); chairman of House Committee on Appropriations, Muktar Aliyu Betara (Borno); House Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa (Kano) and Aminu Sani Jaji (Zamfara).
The leadership of the party is expected to announce the zoning of the presiding officers before the inauguration of the 10th assembly.
A source at the meeting said the president-elect through the vice president-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, told the lawmakers-elect that he has not endorsed anyone.
“The crux of the matter was that neither the party nor the president-elect has endorsed anyone for any National Assembly positions.
“Our focus is on the governorship and state assembly elections coming up on Saturday. We call on our elected representatives to go back to the base and work assiduously for the success of our candidates in the upcoming elections,” the source said.
Zoning meeting to be held after gov’ship poll
The source said a meeting would be convened by the party to decide on the zoning of the presiding officers after the governorship elections.
“The party is supreme. At the appropriate time, the party in consultation with President Buhari, the president-elect, the vice president-elect and other key stakeholders will deliberate on the issues at stake and make informed decisions taking into cognisance national interest, stability of the country, equity, justice and fairness,” he said.
Earlier in his address, the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the need to advise National Assembly members-elect to exercise caution while jostling for leadership positions was one of the three reasons the meeting was convened.
He said: “The news media and especially the social media are full of speculations of some of you jostling for leadership positions in the national assembly. This is not unusual. People have the right to struggle for positions of leadership for which they believe they are eminently qualified. But we, in the national working committee of the party, are not comfortable with the tone adopted by those who seek those offices. Those offices are not tribal or sectional rights and must not be so portrayed.
“We would like to offer a word of caution to all of you in this regard. It may be good to start early but sometimes when you start too early, you jump the gun and court unintended consequences that may cause nasty divisions in the party and thus affect its health.
“The president-elect and the party leadership will make appropriate consultations in working out a formula for sharing those offices. I assure you that whatever sharing formula the party and the president-elect arrive at will be fair, just, equitable and satisfy the majority of our members.”
While fielding questions, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) said the party leadership advised them to play down the leadership issues and focus more on ensuring that “we take the election battle to the end.
“What we agreed on is that the members of the National Assembly should produce their leadership based on who they think is the best and also considering the issues at stake and putting in place justice, fairness and equity. The president-elect will at the appropriate time take his decision,” he said.
Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) said: “After the gubernatorial election, we will gather again, take stock of what we have achieved and from there, the zoning formula the party wants to adopt will be given out.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, also said discussions on the leadership of the National Assembly would come up after the Saturday polls.
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