By Emman Ovuakporie
IT is no longer news that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will produce the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives when 8th Assembly of the National Assembly takes off in June.
What is news is that the South-South and South-East geo-political zones may not produce any of the top leaders on account of their preference for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which will become the leading opposition party in June.
As it is, the North may produce the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives in addition to the presidency it already has through Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
To address the looming anomaly, the APC has been advised to zone the position of the Speaker to the South South geo-political zone of the country to reflect the principle of federal character required by the 1999 constitution (as amended).
This was contained in a statement issued by a pro-democracy group, Change Vanguard, and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Tayo Bello,.
The group raised alarm over the possibility of the three northern geo-political zones producing the President, Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives.
The statement read in part: “Change Vanguard welcomes the positive political revolution brought by the APC and the subsequent election of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as president-elect on March 28, 2015. However, Change Vanguard is disturbed by ongoing political developments in the lead-up to the May 29, 2015 handover date. As it stands, the incoming All Progressive Congress administration already has the president-elect, Buhari from the North-west and the vice president-elect, Prof Yemi Osinbajo from the South-West.
“Change Vanguard is aware that the position of the Senate President may go to the North Central or North East geo-political zone since the South East previously touted for the Senate presidency failed to produce any APC senator. Change Vanguard is disturbed by the reported moves by the APC to zone the position of Speaker, House of Representatives to the North East.
“Change Vanguard reminds the APC that if the House speakership position is zoned to the North East geo-political region, it would be a clean sweep for the country’s northern region with the President, Senate president and House Speaker coming from there. This will be in breach of the constitution and a divisive development.
“Change Vanguard recognises the fact that the South-East failed to produce any federal lawmaker in the Senate and House of Representatives. However, th e South-South geo-political zone returned at least three ranking and qualified APC House members. This is a golden opportunity that the APC must not miss to ensure. In the spirit of fairness and adherence to the federal character principle, the position of Speaker, House of Representatives should be zoned to the South South geo-political zone.
“Change Vanguard calls on the All Progressive Congress to adhere to the “federal character” principle, which has been enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution since 1979. The federal character principle seeks to ensure that appointments to public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity of the country.” The incoming 8th Assembly of the National Assembly is due to be inaugurated on June 6, 2015.
Position of speaker
Six APC federal lawmakers from five geo-political zones of the country are jostling for the position of Speaker. The current speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has opted out of the legislature and has been declared governor-elect of his home state, Sokoto.
Battle for speakership: The six federal lawmakers vying for the House speakership position are: Abdulmumin Jibrin from Kano (North-West), Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi (North-East), Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos (South-West), Mohammed Monguno from Borno (North-East), Pally Iriase from Edo State (South-South) and Israel Ajibola Famurewa from Osun State (South-West).
Gbajabiamila who represents Surulere Federal constituency is presently the minority leader in the lower chamber. Jibrin, on the other hand is chairman, House Committee on Finance. Dogara is chairman, House Services and Welfare Committee. Monguno is chairman, House Committee on Agriculture. Iriase is deputy chairman, House Committee on Legislative Outreach. Monguno, like Dogara, has been in the House since 2007, while Iriase, Jibrin and Famurewa first came to the House in 2011. But Gbajabiamila has been in the House since 2003.