Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Noth-central, Hon. Ahmed Suleiman Wambi, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders have shown their interest in the emergence of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as the next Senate president and House of Representatives’ Speaker, respectively.
Wambi who admitted that the selection did not reflect religious equity, said the ruling party took the decision in the interest of Nigeria and to move the country forward.
Speaking yesterday during an interview with journalists in Abuja, the APC chieftain said excellence, loyalty and past experiences may have been the qualities that attracted Lawan and Gbajabiamila to the president.
“We have not given Ahmed Lawan the position of Senate President because he is from North-east or Gbajabiamila Speaker because he is from South-west, but based on the performance of the party, based on the contribution and loyalty. There was a time Mr. President sent budget to the National Assembly and that proposal was kept there for about seven months. Gbabiamila and Lawan were the ones fighting and because of that they received a lot of frustration, traumatisation and intimidation from the present leadership of the National Assembly.
“So, do you think the party and Mr. President should reward those people? No. We said that despite the fact that the North-west has the president, the South-west has the Vice President, the Senate president is zoned to the North-east, Mr. President felt we should reward Gbajabiamila based on the compelling loyalty and his experience”, he stated.
Wambi said the president’s preference for the two lawmakers may be because of their past experiences but that does not mean there are no others with similar potentials.
He added, “We are not saying that there is nobody in the North-central that is qualified; no. But the issue is that there are certain considerations. We fought for the zone to get Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives and also Senate Majority Leader in the Senate.”
When asked whether the ruling APC put the religion balancing into the consideration, while settling for Lawan and Gbajabiamila who are both Muslims, the APC chieftain said: “You do not understand the political dynamism of our country. Do you think if we concentrate on religion, this country will move forward? We go for excellence sometime; we go for those people who can key into the project of change and deliver.
“What do you mean by sensitivity? Between APC and PDP which party is more sensitive? Do you think Muslim or Christianity can provide solutions to the problems of Nigeria?
“Until Nigerians become aware and key into excellence, we should no longer discriminate against anybody who has something to offer. The moment a nation starts thinking about where someone comes from or the religion he or she practices such a nation is doomed.”
On the interest expressed by APC’s stakeholders from North-central to contest the position of Speaker, Wambai said the South-west should be allowed to produce the next Speaker.
“I share the assertion that things should be given to any region based on their contribution and acceptance of the change mantra. But in politics, you may not get what you sometimes think is yours because of certain pecuniary reasons and expediency.
“But as far as far as I am concerned, the consideration should be given based on merit. Having produced the senate president for the past 12 years, the North-central should allow other zones to produce the Speaker since we are not the only zone,” he said.