As the jostle for the Senate presidency and other principal offices of the 10th National Assembly intensifies, there are indications that the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have concluded arrangements with the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to hold a meeting of the party’s expanded National Executive Committee (NEC) in the second week of April.
This is just as spirants had in the last one week stepped up campaigns amid the suspense that has enveloped the zoning of the principal offices ahead of the National Assembly inauguration in June.
It was gathered that as a prelude to the inauguration, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the governing party is set to convene NEC to deliberate and settle the issue of zoning to enable the party go to the inauguration with one voice and avoid what happened in 2019.
A member of the APC NWC who confided in our correspondent said the “hard push” by some influential South West lawmakers might rob the zone of the position of deputy speaker.
He hinted that the outgoing speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and a handful of lawmakers from the zone are pushing for Prof Julius Ihonvbere from Edo State in South-South to emerge deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
It was unclear as of press time whether or not the move by Gbajabiamila and his loyalists has the blessing of the president-elect.
Nonetheless, a close aide of one of the governors of the South West hinted that the governors would soon meet to discuss and reach a consensus.
He said, “We know, of course, that the current Speaker and his boys have already settled for Hon. Tajudeen Abbas from Kaduna State as next speaker. His campaign is coordinated by the chairman House Committee on NDDC, Bunmi Tunji Ojo who has been penciled for chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, with Prof Julius Ihonvbere as deputy Speaker.
“But the choice is at variance with the much touted consideration of the Kaduna governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai as possible SGF. Tinubu wants him in the incoming government and majority of the governors of the APC are in tune with Tinubu’s choice of giving the Kaduna governor a key role considering his role during the pre-primary era and in standing firm for Tinubu.
“Majorly, that is where Abbas might have issues because Tinubu has said each zone must have a fair deal apart from the fact that the North West has had about three speakers since 1999.
“And of course, the South West governors are already thinking of having a meeting with the APC NWC where they would insist on having the position of deputy speaker; but before then, we hope Gbaja and his team would not have pushed too far for TJ, as Abbas is fondly called by colleagues.
“As for the deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase, he might be lucky to have the position of speaker zoned to the North Central if Tinubu finally makes up his mind to consider El-Rufai as SGF.
“He is most likely to enjoy the support of the APC governors who are scheming for El Rufai as SGF. It means the president-elect’s choice for the position of SGF holds the ace.
“But everything will be clearer when the NEC is called to ratify whatever recommendation from the NWC because it is only then the details of the zoning will be formally unveiled to members-elect to allow for a one month campaign ahead of NASS inauguration”.