Behind the scene moves for leadership positions in the National Assembly has begun among lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which won majority seats in Saturday’s polls, Daily Trust has reported.
The APC now has more than 60 senators and over 200 members in the House of Representatives.
Sources in the party said that the APC had in January tentatively zoned the position of the senate president to the North Central and that of the speaker to the North East after its national convention in December.
The decision, sources said, followed the emergence of retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who is from the North West, as the party’s presidential candidate and his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, from the South West.
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Consequently, Senators George Akume of Benue, Bukola Saraki of Kwara and Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa, are said to be in contention for the number three position.
It was not clear whether the PDP, which is now in the minority, has taken any decision on those to occupy minority positions at both chambers.
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the North East senate caucus has demanded for the position of senate president.
The APC won 13 senate seats from the region, three from Borno, Adamawa and Bauchi each, while Gombe and Yobe produced two senators each. PDP won all the three senate seats in Taraba State.
Sources said that the North East APC senators would make a case for the position of senate president to be zoned to their region.
“We are the most marginalised region in Nigeria and we deserve to be compensated this time around,” a source said.
“In the outgoing assembly, the region was denied the senate presidency by the PDP in 2011 when David Mark was returned from the North Central zone despite opposition from the North East”, he added.
The APC National Executive Committee (NEC) is expected to take decisions on a power sharing arrangement in the coming weeks.
Top on the list of possible contenders from the North East for the post is Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe. Lawan has been in the National Assembly since 1999 which makes him the top ranking senator from the region.
Closely following Lawan is Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume from Borno, who was elected into the National Assembly in 2003 and was minority leader for four years.
Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje from Gombe and former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Usman Beyero Nafada, who is coming to the senate for the first time, was a presiding officer.
Sources in the National Assembly said Goje had since commenced campaigns after he was declared winner a few days ago.
At the lower chamber, it was gathered that while Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal along with some key lawmakers are gunning for a member from Bauchi State, Rep Yakubu Dogara, to become the new Speaker, others have since commenced moves for the post to be given to current Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, from Lagos.
Thus, based on their calculation, the North Central and North East should produce the senate president and speaker respectively, which is why they are supporting Dogara who is from the North East, with the possibility that the senate president may come from the North Central.
However, it emerged yesterday that a group of APC lawmakers from the North West have begun lobbying for Gbajabiamila to become speaker despite being from the same state with Osinbajo.
Their argument is that they want to compensate the South West for not only supporting Buhari but also ensuring that he won the presidency this time.
They said though Gbajabiamila is from the same region with Osinbajo, that would not change anything as Tambuwal, who is from North West, emerged speaker on June 6, 2011 even when Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo is from the same zone.
One of the lawmakers pushing for Gbajabiamila said: “We want to pay them (South West) back. Look at what they did for Buhari. So, to us, one good turn deserves another.
We we’ve already commenced mobilising for him.”
Already, some lawmakers have started indicating interest in vying for different positions in the House leadership. It was gathered that Rep Aliyu Sani Madaki from Kano State has indicated interest in the position of House Leader, while others are still keeping their ambitions to their chests to see how the game turns out.
Sources: Daily Trust