By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
To prevent a repeat of the 2015 scenario when House of Representatives members worked against the interest of the party, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some elements in the presidency have stepped in to harmonise the ambitions of the contending lawmakers.
Sources close to some of the leading lawmakers in the race for the leadership of the ninth assembly when it is constituted on June 9, 2019 hinted that the party leadership is working to establish a workable agreement between the South-west, which seems favoured to get the zoning and the North-central, where the lawmakers are protesting that the speakership should come to them.
The move, it was gathered was targeted at bringing the most ranking North-central member and Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Ahmed ldris Wase, representing Wase federal constituency of Plateau State and the most ranking South-west member and the House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, to a roundtable to agree on an acceptable working formula.
Shedding light on the party’s intervention, a source close to Wase said: “The position is that the speakership and deputy speakership are going to be zoned to South-west and North-central. That has been finalised. Not that the speakership will be given to Femi and deputy speakership will be given to Wase but that the two of them are going to work together and form a pact, so that whichever is decided, both of them will agree.
“So, Wase committed himself to that agreement – that ‘if it goes to South-west he would agree to deputise Femi. Femi also indicated interest that if by any way the party zones it to North-central, then Femi will deputise Wase. That was the agreement and that was why they have not come out on the zoning formula.
“If the party had decided on Femi, they would have come out clearly to say this is our candidate. But what they have is a pact between the South-west and the North-central.”
He added that: “Femi was in Wase’s office yesterday (Sunday). He spent two hours. The discussions are ongoing on that arrangement but the zoning has not been finalised. Meanwhile, these are the two highest ranking members; Femi is the highest ranking member from the South-west, while Wase is the highest ranking member from the North-central.
“This proposal was mentioned to Wase by the party leaders, particularly by Asiwaju. Asiwaju had a meeting with him, that he wanted to bring Wase on board, asking him (the lawmaker) that if it happens that it goes to the South-west, if he would take the deputy. And Wase responded that if it was the formal position of the party, backed by the president, he would be willing. The same commitment was gotten from Femi.
“This is something that a lot of governors appreciate, including the North-central governors. They were the ones who organised the meeting with the presidency. It is just the ‘finalisation’ that is remaining. As for South-west and North-central, you can take that home.”
Advising his party against a repeat of the 2015 experience when it was unable to ensure victory for its preferred candidates for Senate President and Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub representing Gombi/Hong federal constituency, Adamawa State, said: “The only solution to that is fairness. Once every interest is taken into consideration in the event of zoning these positions to different part of the country; if every interest is taken into consideration and there is fairness, I think there will be no problem because every party man will like to be loyal to the decisions of his party leadership.
“As long as there is fairness, we won’t have any aggrieved person that would like to go against the decisions of the party.”
According to him, nobody can be taken for granted ahead of the election of the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, adding that: “In any election, even one vote is significant. One vote can change an election. Whether it is national election or election within legislators or whatever.”
Also a ranking lawmaker, who is in the race, said having garnered relevant experiences in the aspect of the relationship between the House and the judiciary and the executive, he wishes to contribute his quota in running the country, adding that: “Based on that, if I am given the opportunity to lead the House I will bring in a lot of innovations,” principal among which he said will be to bring about a cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature.