Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
Ahead of next week’s inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, some lawmakers-elect has denounced reports that President Bola Tinubu had at a meeting with them on Thursday endorsed the controversial zoning formula of his ruling All Progressives Congress APC.
According to some of the lawmakers-elect, the President invited all of them, including aspirants to work for the unity of the country.
They stressed that the President “did not voice his support for a particular candidate or asked any lawmaker to step down for the other.”
Vanguard reports that Tinubu met with a joint session of the National Assembly, comprising Senators-elect and Members-elect across all parties, at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
There had been reports in a section of the media that the president on Wednesday night, “made a strong appeal to the All Progressives Congress APC Senators-elect and Members-elect to abide by the zoning arrangement as announced by the National Working Committee NWC of the party in electing presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives.”
The APC zoning formula has Senators Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau for Senate President and deputy, while it has Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and Ben Kalu for House Speakership and deputy.
But speaking against the reports, the lawmakers said, the President on Thursday, restated what he disclosed with aspirants in a closed-door meeting that lawmakers should put the nation first and downplay party politics in the discharge of their duties.
One of the members representing Ningi/Warji Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, Adamu Ranga, said the President did not voice support for any of the candidates vying for the Senate or House leadership, adding that he only called for a united front.
According to him, “The lawmakers were told to work together to choose good leaders in the 10th National Assembly.
“Mr President spoke to the general assembly both the Senate and the House of Representatives in order to ensure that we have a solid government. Secondly, he emphasized that he will perform an open-door policy for everybody.
“Whoever wants to see him can see him without any hindrance. And whatever you want to discuss with him, he will give you that privilege to discuss.
“Thirdly, he said we should put our constituency first since we are here to represent them. He mentioned that he wants the Senate and the House to cooperate to elect good leaders.”
On his part, member-elect for Enugu East/Isiuzo Federal Constituency, Prof Paul Nnamchi, said Tinubu appealed to lawmakers to uphold the national interest.
“He appealed that we should forget about party politics and face national interest. That was the major part of his speech.
“He didn’t mention anybody’s name to be voted for. Maybe he is appealing, but I didn’t hear anybody’s name,” Nnamchi said
Sources who attended the meeting, however, observed that Mr President’s body language at the meeting did not go well with party chieftains and promoters of those pushing for the imposition of some of the preferred candidates on both Chambers.