Aggrieved aspirants seeking top positions in the National Assembly got a message from the party yesterday. Adamu, who received three Senate president aspirants – Orji Uzor Kalu, Sani Musa and Abdulaziz Yari – all angry about the zoning formula proposed by the party, promised them that party leaders will take another look at the matter after consultation with President Elect.
He said the zoning formula “is not final”. On Wednesday, some House of Representatives aspirants displeased by the zoning plan, led by Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, also visited the secretariat.
Adamu said the National Working Committee (NWC) would go back to the drawing board to correct any perceived lopsidedness in the distribution of the presiding offices to the six geo-political zones.
The three senators presented a letter of grievance to Adamu during the meeting at the secretariat. Senator Osita Izunaso, expected to be in the team, sent his apology because he was away in Owerri to attend the flag off of the Orashyi/Oguta Lake dredging, performed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Senator-elect and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi appealed for calm, saying that the contentious issues will be resolved amicably.
Accepting responsibility for the misgivings on the zoning arrangement, the party chairman admitted that National Assembly members-elect were not adequately consulted before it was announced.
He assured the aggrieved aspirants that the NWC will consult with the President-elect when he returns from his working tour of Europe and will revisit the arrangement.
Adamu said: “As chairman of the APC and members of the National Working Committee, we take responsibility. As chairman, I take responsibility for what has gone on air.
“Yes, there were no sufficient consultations with you who are contesting and it is a simple principle of democracy that you get views and opinions. But, the circumstances that we found ourselves in after the elections frustrated our desire.
“We must as democrats open up. We (NWC) have received with respect, the outcome of the meeting with party leaders, comprising the leadership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the party.
“We will go back to the drawing board. We owe our party that duty to take a look at whether what was done cannot be changed; what was done needs some changes or reviews. We will take a look at what necessary compelled us to do by the grace of God.”
Adamu added: “Hold the fire until the last word is heard from us. We are the custodians of the party as NWC but we are not acting alone. The voice of the President-elect is essential. We must accommodate him, the best we can.
“I will not compromise on that. So, he (Tinubu) is right now outside the country and by the grace of God when he comes back, we will go back to the drawing board and put our heads together again and see what we will get.
“I cannot pre-empt that. I will wait until we hold that meeting with Mr President-elect, the same team that we had the same meeting with.
“If we need to enlarge the committee, we will do so. We will be better informed through the contributions that we will be made.
“We will go through your memo, line by line and ensure that we can capture the spirit of your presentation and see what will be the best way out of the situation we have.
“Whatever you heard is the art of human endeavour and we are not perfect as human beings. We can make mistakes.
“So, if we find in the course of further consultations the mistakes that need to be looked at, we will look at them.
“The important thing is that the spirit of the party must be kept alive. We just came out of the election, and the whole country is looking towards us.
“We are just counting down to the inauguration on the 29th of this month. Our eyes must stay on the ball but in doing so we must make sure justice will be done. We will do the essentials to deliver justice to all and sundry.”
Yari, who led the aggrieved lawmakers, said the zoning formula was not acceptable to their respective geo-political zones.
He complained that the zoning was a clear breach of the APC motto of “Peace, Justice and Unity”.
According to him: “We are here to present our letter of grievances to you and also tell this honourable house that we are not satisfied with the arrangement and what we are expecting from you people is to give us a fair level to play.”
Musa reiterated his earlier position to step down for a Christian Senate President and called for a formula that will reflect the secular nature of the country.
He argued that the Northcentral zone, which contributed more votes to the party than other geo-political zones, had been short-changed in the zoning arrangement.
He said: “The issue of National Assembly election is an issue of internal democracy. If it doesn’t prevail in National Assembly, how will it prevail in the wider Nigerian society? We are the ones saying it but not acting it. That can be corrected.
“This injustice needs to be corrected. The Northcentral has been shortchanged. We are pained. We are putting all the effort to make sure the APC realised what we wanted.
“If you look at the statistics, we got five governors out of six, 11 senators out of 18, and the margin between APC and PDP is a difference of over 400,000 votes which we produced. What is the margin of difference between APC and PDP in the Northwest?”
Kalu said the party should ensure inclusion of the Southeast geo-political zone and even distribution of power since the country is sitting on a tripod of three major ethnic groups of Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo.
He argued that the region deserves the Senate President, having produced two governors, six senators and many House of Representatives members.
Umahi said the leadership of the APC was capable of addressing all the grievances.
Umahi, who stressed the need for Nigerians to be given a reason to be patriotic, also advised that the Judiciary must be allowed to handle disputes over the general election without interference.
The governor spoke at the ongoing induction of National Assembly members-elect in Abuja.
He said: “Democracy is all about resolving all emerging controversies. The position of our party (APC) has given rise to some unavoidable controversies. There is no position the party would have taken that will not attract criticism or controversies.
“I think that the party and our leadership are very capable and full of wisdom to resolve whatever might be the differences. I am very sure they are working on it.”
Calling on Nigerians to be patriotic in their dealings, Umahi pointed out that “there can never be patriotism in this country without equity, fairness and justice”.
He added: “For me to be patriotic, I have to be sure that my area is carried along and this is the reason many people don’t return to the National Assembly because projects are not skewed in their interest.
“The people assess legislators as if they have Executive powers to do projects. So, there should be a way to have executive projects cited in their areas so that they can leverage that to come back and not waste the experience they gather as lawmakers.
“There is also the issue of inclusiveness. There is a need for the three arms of government to ask one common question: Do we want to reset this country? If we want to reset this country, a lot of sacrifices must be made.
“There must be patriotism to reset this country. This has to be done so that our people can see the country first. America is great because the people see America first. This country must be reset on the platform of equity, fairness and justice.”
Credit: The Nation