N'East Launches Lobby for Senate Presidency

2011-05-03
THISDAY Newspaper- Imam Imam and Chuks Okocha

Ahead of the inauguration of the seventh legislature, politicians from the North-east and South-west geo-political zones of the country are perfecting their strategy to have the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) okay the leadership of the National Assembly to their zones.

Specifically, while the North-east is jostling for the office of the Senate President, the South-west, which currently holds the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives, is digging in to maintain its hold on the office.

To drive home their desire, legislators and other political leaders from the North-east geo-political zone have started compiling signatures of members-elect of the National Assembly for onward transmission to the PDP as back-up to their demand for the party to alter its zoning formula and allocate the Senate president's seat to the region.

THISDAY was informed Monday that after a high level meeting of senators elected from the zone, which held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, the politicians demanded the slot of the Senate presidency in order to repay the area for its commitment and support for the PDP.

Speaking to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, a senator from the zone said the PDP should cede the office of the Senate president to the zone so as to encourage fairness among the various zones of the country.

He said since the presidency of the country had moved from the North-west to South-south, it was only fair that the party rezones other offices in compliance with the PDP

constitution, which recognises zoning of offices to reflect the Principle of Federal Character as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"Our concern is the unity, peace and stability of the nation. Since the presidency has moved from the North-west to the South-south, other key positions ought to shift correspondingly in accordance with the dictates of justice, equity and geo-political balancing," the senator added.

The battle for the country's number three position promises to be fierce because already, some groups have launched the re-election campaign for the Senate President David Mark, who is from the North-central zone.

The bid, which apparently has the tacit nod of some bigwigs at the presidency, is believed by the senators-elect from the North-east to be antithetical to the “expediency of the moment and the corporate goals of the North to be part of the new re-alignment of power”.

The North-east has 15 senators-elected under the PDP. Under the current zoning arrangement, the North-west occupies the vice-presidential seat, while the Speaker of the House of Representative is expected to come from the South-east.

Meanwhile, politicians from the South-west have stepped up pressure on the PDP to retain the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives in the zone.

A top member of the PDP, who reacted to news report that the party would tinker with the zoning of six top political offices in the country in the forthcoming political dispensation, argued that the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, which is currently occupied by the South-west, should not be taken away from it because Dimeji Bankole failed in his re-election bid.

“It has been agreed that the six top political offices be retained and therefore, the fact that the incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives lost his re-election bid, does not in any way mean that the office would be taken any from the zone.

“The office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was zoned to the South-west in the same manner the office of the Senate president is zoned to the North-central and therefore the defeat of Dimeji Bankole as a member of the House of Representatives who is currently the Speaker will not alter the zoning arrangement in the top political offices in the National Assembly,” the top PDP source said.

THISDAY gathered that PDP is insisting that the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives be retained in the South-west because to remove the office from the zone could connote abandoning the zone permanently to the opposition controlled by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

“We lost the election in the South-west and therefore taking away the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives because of this, would automatically abandon the zone to the ACN, which would not be to the overall interest of PDP.

“The South-west means a lot to the party and it is our belief that the office of the Speaker should be retained to serve as a rallying point for the PDP in the zone,” he added.

THISDAY gathered that PDP may cede the office of the national chairman of the party to the North-east, as the North-west has already produced the vice-president.

It was further learnt that the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation would be re-zoned to the South-east away from the current zone of the North-east.

With the possible retention of the zoning of top political offices, the North-central will retain the office of the Senate president, while the South-east gets the office of the deputy Senate president. The office of the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives remains in the North-east.



 

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