By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, is moving to quiet the rebellion amongst its members in the next House of Representatives by altering the proposed zoning formula for the sharing of offices. The party’s move follows the seeming failure of Vice-President Namadi Sambo to assuage the feelings of the members-elect during a weekend meeting.
At press time, yesterday, the inclination of the party was not clear, but there were indications that the party would switch the position of Speaker away from the Southwest towards the Northwest where momentum is already building in support of the speakership ambition of the outgoing Deputy House Whip, Rep. Aminu Tambuwal.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prof. Ahmed Alkali, told Vanguard, yesterday, that the party was making consultations on the issue to the extent of addressing the matter. But pressed on to what extent the party would go, he declined to give further comments.
He, however, said: “The party is making consultations with major stakeholders and leaders of the party and it is not for the press to push us.” It was, however, learnt that the party was moving under pressure stimulated by other geopolitical zones against the zoning of the office of Speaker to the Southwest.
Out of the 202 members-elect on the platform of the PDP, the Southwest has only five members representing 2.5 per cent of the entire PDP caucus in the next House. Members were further peeved by the endorsement of Muraina Ajibola by the PDP Southwest caucus under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
One returning member told Vanguard: “That endorsement was a big minus for Ajibola.” The other qualified returning member from the PDP, Mrs. Mulikat Adeola, despite being a qualified lawyer has been largely ignored by the influential Northern caucus in the House which has the majority of members. Many of the men from the North, it was learnt, are not inclined to have a female presiding officer even if a muslim.
There were, however, indications that the Akande campaign had struck a working relationship with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, caucus which is to have about 70 members in the next House. A number of the ACN caucus members from outside the Southwest were, however, identifying with the Tambuwal campaign, weekend.
The constraints against Ajibola and Adeola were, weekend, working in favour of Tambuwal with many members of the Northwest caucus rallying around his campaign which has pitched camp at a popular hotel along the Airport Road in the federal capital.
Many returning members and new members were making a show of registering their presence at the hotel suite presently occupied by the Tambuwal campaign. Mrs. Akande was, however, hopeful of her chances as she discounted the reported endorsement of Ajibola as coming from a group. She told Vanguard yesterday that the national party had yet to make a decision on the issue.
The Southeast caucus is especially pained that despite contributing about 40 members-elect representing about 20 per cent that the zone was looked over for the Southwest for the office of Speaker.
Vanguard learnt that leading lights from the Southeast and South-south caucuses were also collaborating with the Tambuwal campaign. Despite the hiccups in the House of Representatives, the prospects for Senator David Mark were also increasing with more returning senators backing his move.
Senator Odion Ugbesia who is returning to the Senate on the platform of the PDP to represent Edo Central said that Mark was the logical choice to lead the next Senate. He said in a statement to Vanguard: “I am part of the vanguard championing his cause to return to the Senate as its president. And this support is borne out of my conviction and total commitment to David Mark’s purposeful and visionary leadership.”