BEFORE the April polls, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, was seen and perceived as a regional party based in the Southwest zone and built around the former governor of Lagos State and leader of the party, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Such perception could be justified, considering that apart from Tinubu, the National Chairman of the party since its formation has been Chief Bisi Akande, the former governor of Osun State.
Some aggrieved members of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, across the country hurriedly joined the party as the last resort before the April general elections.
Such abrupt defections of PDP members to the party could not convince Nigerians that the party was not a regional party, even when personalities like former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, former National Chairman of PDP, Chief Audu Ogbe and others outside Southwest zone were founding and still active members of the party today.
But, while some of the defectors won their elections on the party platform, others did not. What is certain now is that after the inauguration of the seventh National Assembly recently, the party is expected to produce the Senate Minority Leader and Senate Chief Whip having emerged the major opposition party in the country today.
But the question that had agitated the minds of many Nigerians was: Who would emerge the Senate Minority Leader on the party platform, with the capacity to rally other members to provide focused leadership and checkmate PDP excesses in the Senate.
There are arguments that the new Senate standing rules barred first term senators from occupying any principal offices. The rules sounded hypocritical, considering that Senator Kabiyu Gaya, a first term senator from Kano State in 2007 held the principal position of Senate Minority Leader in the sixth National Assembly.
So Senate rules cannot supersede the Constitution of the country or party’s decision. It is the sole responsibility of the party to decide who will occupy the positions they are entitled to in the Senate. So the much talk about Senate rules is a political gimmick that has out-served its purpose since David Mark has been re-elected as Senate President.
With the key national leaders of ACN and majority of the elected members in the National Assembly from the Southwest zone, it is expected that the choice of Senate minority leader from the zone will amount to political suicide and at the same time affirm the general belief that the party is truly a regional, and not a national party as their leaders would want people to believe.
But in the face of this obvious fact and glaring challenges, the true nationalistic claim of the party might be put to test on their choice of the Senate Minority Leader and other positions outside the Southwest zone.
In the last April poll, senators that were elected on the party platform outside Southwest zone included former governor of Anambra State and founding member of the party, Dr. Ngige, former governor of Benue State, Chief George Akume, defected Senator Ehigie Uzamere representing Edo South district and his counterpart from Edo North district, Chief Domingo Obende.
Among them, it is obvious that Ngige ranks higher, but it appears some domineering elements in the party who are not comfortable with Ngige’s rising political profile are out to frustrate his emergence as the Minority Leader in the Senate by imposing Senator George Akume on the party members without adequate consultation.
Considering Ngige’s political antecedents and enormous contributions in building and giving the party a national outlook since its formation in 2006, the party leadership has no choice than to endorse him for the position. Anything contrary will portray the party in a bad light, and might create disunity that may lead the party to doom ahead 2015, especially in Southeast zone.
If it is true that few elements in the party had decided to force Akume on the party as the minority leader, on what basis did they arrive at such decision? What was Akume’s contribution to the party before now?
If true, the choice of Akume has shown that the party has no regard or reward for party loyalty at all. It seems that the trio of Tinubu, Akande and Lai Mohammed have forgotten that ACN is not a personal estate they can run at their whims and caprices.
Mr. GBOYEGA ADEYEMI, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.