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Much Ado About N’Assembly’s Zoning Template

Much Ado About N’Assembly’s Zoning Template

Ibrahim Tajudeen justifies the recent zoning by the leadership of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, of both the Deputy Senate President and House Speaker positions of the 10th National Assembly to the North Western zone of the country.

The uproar that followed the zoning of leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly is unnecessary given the much expected for the next administration to succeed.

If the protest is based on the need for equity and fairness, then the resolve of the APC to zone the position of Senate President to the South-South; Deputy Senate President to the North West; Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North West and Deputy Speaker to the South East is in order.

Though the convention most times follows a pattern where the six geopolitical zones of the country take one each of the top positions in the executive and legislative arms of government and it is expected that since the South West and North East have produced the President-elect and Vice President-elect respectively, the positions of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives should be shared among the other four geopolitical zones namely the North Central; South-South; South East and North West zones, the present situation calls for a deeper understanding due to its peculiarity.

This is because the commitment to national cause is tested not based on the allocation of political offices but on the willingness to make sacrifices for the betterment of the country.

The agitation by the North Central that it has been sidelined in the scheme of things is therefore hasty and cannot be conclusively substantiated because the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration is yet to be inaugurated.

The call for the review of the zoning by the governors in the North Central on Monday wouldn’t be necessary if the chief executives had waited to see what Asiwaju has in stock for the zone.

Besides, as it is, the North Central has been the first to benefit from the zoning arrangement of the APC with the decision to allocate the office of the national chairman of the party to the zone in 2022.

When that was done, other zones respected the arrangement and did not present candidates to contest against the decision of the APC even though there were leaders of the party from the zone that wanted to contest.

That was the sacrifice the other zones made for the unity of the country and for the growth and cohesion of the APC which the North Central benefitted from.

Regarding the National Assembly leadership, other zones have in the past also made similar sacrifices for a harmonious blend in the interest of the nation.

In the 7th Assembly, it was all agreed that the South West should have the position of the Speaker, but because it was the understanding then that the North West needed to be supported to consolidate the efforts of the progressives, the South West made the sacrifice and Aminu Tambuwal from the North West was returned as Speaker even though the North West with Namadi Sambo, had the vice presidency.

In that dispensation, while the South-South with Goodluck Jonathan had the presidency, the North West, had the vice President; while the North Central had the Senate President; the South East with Ike Ekweremadu had the Deputy Senate President; the North West despite having the Vice President, also took the position of Speaker and the South East with Emeka Ihedioha, took the Deputy Speaker position.

As can be gleaned from the above, it then meant that the South West and North East were completely not factored in the top positions in executive and legislative arms of government but they did not complain or agitate but took it in their stride that at certain points certain sacrifices have to be made in the interest of the country.

Similarly in the current dispensation, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo is from the same South West with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.

Looking at the current configuration, the North West with President Muhammadu Buhari has the presidency; while the Vice President is from the South West, the Senate President from North East; the Deputy Senate President from the South-South; the Speaker from South West and the Deputy Speaker from the North Central.

This leaves the South East completely out of the picture but the region took it calmly and never threatened to bring down the whole house because it understood the need to make sacrifices on behalf of the nation.

Going by the explanations that informed the decision of the APC to zone both the Deputy Senate President and Speaker seats to the North West is the understanding that without the intervention of the party, the North West going by its contribution to the success of the APC can take over the Senate Presidency but will not augur well for the country given the religious configuration of the next administration.

Having persuaded the North West to step down for national cohesion, it will therefore be foolhardy not to compensate the zone.

Having the deputy senate president and the speaker does not even come close, in terms of influence, to have the vice president and Speaker from the same zone which is the case with the South West in the current dispensation under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since other zones have made sacrifices for the unity and cohesion of Nigeria, the North Central should understand that this is the time to offer similar gestures for the development of the country.

The North Central no doubt has contributed to the success of the APC and should not at this critical period rock the boat but make the necessary sacrifice for the success of the next administration.

The 2023 zoning arrangement is not absurd or skewed as claimed by North Central governors and senators as in the end, all the zones would be adequately carried along as the region is most likely to get key appointments in the next administration.

-Tajudeen writes from Abuja

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