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APC Cancels Zoning, Bisi Akande Says Senate President, House Speaker Positions, Others Open

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, (THEWILL) – The All Progressives Congress (APC) will not adopt zoning to determine who emerges Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as other principal positions contrary to speculations and expectations, a leader of the party and former Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, said Tuesday.

Pundits as well as members of the party, which will form majority in the National Assembly in the 8th Assembly, have been lobbying to have their geo-political zone produce the leadership of the two chambers under the controversial zoning model made popular by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But Chief Akande, said all leadership positions at the National Assembly have been thrown open, adding that the constitution of the APC does not recognize zoning.

“Zoning is very strange to my party. There is no zoning in our constitution and we don't want to copy the PDP in anything we are doing,” Akande, who had also served as Governor of Osun State told journalists in Lagos during a chat.

“Everybody is free to fight for the position. I want the best man to occupy the position. The trouble we have is that some people are asking for zoning and we are asking questions? Is it zoning according to nationalities? If yes, within the North central alone, there are many nationalities. Not one, not two, two three, not four. Is it zoning according to religion? So, we want to be very careful.

“It is true that, sometime, after the elections, the national chairman wanted to toy with the idea of zoning and unanimously, we said no. We don't want to zone. We are taking over from a delinquent administration and one of the most prodigal institutions of that administration is the National Assembly. I used the word prodigal because, according to the governor of the Central Bank, the recurrent expenditure of the National Assembly was N10 billion at the beginning. But, it rose to about N150 billion and the clamour in the country is that their personal income is prohibitive and in secrecy. So, all these created, may be, the scramble for the leadership of the National Assembly,” Akande said.

He further said: “During the period of Shagari, Ekwueme was the Vice President. He is a Christian. Ume-Ezeoke was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was a Christian. They are both from the Southeast. Vice President Sambo is from the Northwest. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, is from the Northwest. So, it can happen.

“We don't want to say choose on the basis of being Christian, Muslim, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa. Otherwise, we won't be able to get the best in terms of appointment. That is why we have not sat to zone it to anywhere. We are trying to manage those who are vying for it so that the best man will get there. Compromises would have to be made and sacrifices would be welcome…

“We don't want our party to be involved in the prodigal nature of the National Assembly. To prune it down, we need to do a lot of compromising and sacrificing and we need to select among the leaders of the party who are members of the Senate that will be able to control the culture of the National Assembly according to the policies of our party. So, because of that, we want to be cautious about zoning. We unanimously agreed that we didn't want to zone,” he added.

Akande, who also ruled out occupying any political office because of his age (76), further said, “We want the leaders to use their experience to manage those who are aspiring to occupy those positions; six for the party in power (Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip); and four for the opposition (Senate Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip). These are the principal officers of the Senate. We don't want those who will trade off the principal offices to the opposition. The principal officers could be sold out unwittingly to the opposition. So, we want to be very careful and we want to manage those who are interested. So, we don't talk about zoning in our party. It was raised, but people rejected it.”