By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Eitor
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has put off deliberation on the zoning of the various principal offices of the National Assembly and the executive arm of government till after the general elections.
The decision, Vanguard learnt yesterday, was in order to avert a backlash to the party from zonal interests that may feel shortchanged were the positions to be shared before the elections.
PDP which is the dominant party in the country has held a tight grip on the top offices of the two chambers of the National Assembly since 1999.
The offices in contention among the six geo-political zones include the office of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy, majority leader, majority whip and their deputies in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Other positions including the whips of the two chambers, their deputies and the deputies to the majority leaders also follow a geo-political balance.
The offices are normally shared at the national caucus who include prominent party officials and top elected officials on the platform of the party including the President, Vice-President, principal officials of the National Assembly, chairman of the board of trustees, among others.
Pointers to the direction of how they are shared normally come after the choice of the presidential candidate and the running mate of the party.
Following the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South and Arc. Nnamadi Sambo from the Northwest as presidential candidate and running mate for the two top positions of State, their two zones have been automatically struck out from contention in the top positions in the National Assembly should the PDP retain its majority in the two houses.
In the last sharing supervised by erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo shortly before he stepped down from office in May 2007, the office of Senate President was allocated to the North-Central, Speaker was zoned to the Southwest, deputy Senate President was zoned to the Southeast, deputy Speaker was zoned to the North east. Upon the fact that the Northwest and South-South already had the office of President and Vice-President, the two zones were merely given the office of Majority Leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The Northwest produced the Majority Leader of the Senate, in the person of Senator Kanti Bello while the South-South produced the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives in the person of Hon. Tunde Akogun.
However, the death of President Umaru Yar‘Adua in office and the assumption of the presidency by Dr. Jonathan led to some agitation for the rezoning of the offices.
However, Vanguard learnt yesterday that the party and the presidency were for now trying to douse such tensions.
“There is no way we can start that argument now because of the tension it will generate,” a senior government official spoke yesterday on the condition of anonymity because he is directly involved in the matter.
“I can tell you that I am a member of the national caucus and no such issue has been slated and it is not envisaged to be discussed until after the election,” he added.
“The fact is that when we start discussing such issues now it could lead to unnecessary tension which could lead to in fighting and other intrigues that could harm the party during the elections, so it became logical to put off such considerations until after the elections,” the official said.
The present principal officials Vanguard learnt are not leaving anything to chance to ensure that they retain their present positions as some of them have in the recent past laced their activities with intrigues aimed at frustrating potential contenders from their respective geopolitical zones.