The ruling All Progressives Congress and the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, may have adopted a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godwill Akpabio, as President of the Senate in the coming 10th National Assembly.
The leadership of the APC and top echelon of the party have also endorsed a member of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, as Speaker of the 10th House, according to impeccable sources, who were at a closed-door meeting at the Defence House on Friday.
A credible source in the National Assembly disclosed that the positions of the Deputy President of the Senate and Deputy Speaker had not been decided, an indication that they might be contested by aspirants.
A message sent to one of our correspondents by one of the sources read, “President-elect, APC endorse North-West – Speaker; South-South – Senate President…settle for Sen. Godswill Akpabio and Rt. Hon. TJ Abass, Ph.D, as Senate President, Speaker.
“Zoning for Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker.
“North-West –Deputy Senate President. South-East –Deputy Speaker
“Decision taken at the meeting held at the Defence House today (Friday).”
Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje, had said Akpabio would be the next President of the Senate.
Ganduje stated this in Calabar on Thursday during a meeting with Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade, and Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
He said, “The Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will come from the South-South and it is no other person than the former governor of Akwa Ibom State.
“The uncommon governor, the uncommon minister, who is going to be the uncommon President of the Senate. So, we have resolved that. I am giving you assurances; we are waiting for the D-Day that he will be the Senate President of Nigeria.”
Ayade, who also spoke at the meeting, said, “I want to thank you so much for zoning the Senate presidency to the South-South and to our brother from a neighbouring state, who is also part of Cross River State.
“We want to thank you for this great opportunity because our dream of a Bakassi seaport is becoming very real.”
Speakership aspirants differ
Meanwhile, aspirants who spoke to one of our correspondents before the announcement were divided on which method the APC should adopt in the choice of the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Several aspirants contacted expressed preference for a consensus candidate or to allow the aspirants in a choice zone to contest against each other, or for a free contest for all aspirants regardless of zones.
For instance, while the current Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, said he would abide by any mode adopted by the APC, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, said the party should give the seat to a zone and pick a consensus candidate from there.
Ado-Doguwa said, “I have always been unequivocal about my unflinching loyalty and respect for party supremacy. It is for the party to decide which option to take and I will definitely stand by it. Zoning, consensus, free contest, whichever option is taken, I will be fine with it God willing.”
However, Wase said, “Zoning and consensus applied together will foster national integration, while ensuring party unity at the same time.”
Another aspirant and current spokesman of the House, Ben Kalu, urged the APC to consider all interests – ethnic, zonal and religious – in the choice of the best mode of selecting candidates for leadership positions.
He said, “Like I have always said, I do not envy the decision makers at the moment, especially the President-elect, the National Chairman (Abdullahi Adamu) and the National Working Committee members, whose task it is to adopt a power-balancing formula that will sustainably increase our cohesion, unity, progress, prosperity and peace of the federation.
“Having said that, I am sure that they will consider all diversity, sensitive issues, competence, capacity and credibility to arrive at any option most acceptable to them. As party men, we will oblige them fully.
“For the administration of the President-elect to succeed, the foundation must be laid on non-acrimonious and rancorous-free relationships between the arms of the government, with each supporting the other towards achieving the desired national objective.
“That starts now with the design of the architecture of the legislature when well put together. I am confident that will not be an issue.”
Meanwhile, Yusuf Gagdi is billed to officially declare his bid for the speakership today (Saturday).
The former Deputy Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly had said he would abide by the zoning plan of the APC leadership if he considers it fair and just to all sides.