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SPEAKER SEAT: S'EAST DRAWS BATTLELINE

By NBF News
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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be heading on a collision course with people from the South-East on the zoning of offices in the new dispensation. Daily Sun learnt yesterday that the zone's demand to produce Speaker of the House of Representatives is being ignored by the party because a former President from the South-West has insisted that the old order should remain. The implication being that the South-West will retain the position of Speaker.

Although the PDP is yet to meet over the development, Daily Sun can reveal that members of the South-East caucus of the party are already up in arms against any such move. They argued that the South-West had such a poor showing for the party during the last elections that it would amount to rewarding indolence for the zone to retain the position of Speaker .

'The next bloc vote for the PDP after the President's zone came from the South-East. Why should we not be given the position we want' especially when we know it is not too much to ask for?', asked our source, who said the party is being gradually polarized on the matter.

Daily Sun learnt that pre-election arrangements were such as would make both Senate President and Speaker to retain their positions had they won their re-election bids. But a spanner had been thrown at the works with the poor outing of PDP in the South-West, where Speaker Dimeji Bankole lost his Abeokuta federal constituency to Mr Olusegun Williams of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at the April 9, 2011 elections.

The development effectively truncated the pre-election arrangement, but the former president from the zone is seriously pushing for a retention of the status quo and has even stated that a Muslim from the South-West should emerge new Speaker since the last election has consumed Bankole.

The former President, who is said to have the ears of President Goodluck Jonathan, is favourably disposed to giving the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to someone from the South-East. But top members of the party from the South-East and House of Representatives caucus from the zone have spurned the former President's agenda, especially because he is tipping his loyalist, who was a minister from Abia State for the position. 'When he begins to sound this specific, we know he already has a candidate waiting. We don't want that and we also do not want Ojo Maduekwe he is pushing for the post of SGF.

'If President Jonathan caves in to the stance of the former President and goes ahead to appoint that person, it would not be a position to the South-east, it would be an appointment for the former President on his personal recognition, nothing to do with our zone', said our source, a re-elected member of the House.

Meanwhile, Daily Sun further gathered that if the PDP goes ahead to nominate anybody outside the South-East for the position of Speaker, there may be a showdown on the floor of the House given that South-East members may vote down such a nominee and align with other forces to produce a different person.

'The South-east is willing to forgo the party chairmanship position, as long as we retain the Deputy Senate President and get the position of Speaker. We have no interest in the Secretary to the Government which has already been tied to a person and I want to tell President Jonathan to be careful with the former President because if care is not taken, he may destroy the party at the national level as he seems to have done in his state and the entire South-West zone', said a source who would not have his name on print.

There are also strong indications that the ACN may not be willing to have a majority of members from the South-West in the House of Representatives only for the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to produce a Speaker from the zone. Meanwhile, the North-East is battling to unseat Senator David Mark from the Senate Presidency in order to bring every one back to the negotiation table. Until the party meets in a soon-to-be-scheduled round table, everything seems fluid.