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Why Plateau deserves Speakership

The All Progressives Congress, APC, is about to take a second leap in governance on May 29, with the renewal of its mandate by the electorate in the last general elections.

The APC to prove its nationwide appeal and acceptance has not only returned President Muhammadu Buhari to the saddle, but has clinched majority seats in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the governorship and House of Assembly seats in the states of the federation.

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This resounding victory has however thrown up a challenge for the party at the national level which has to do with the leadership of the two chambers in the National Assembly.

While the issue of the president and the vice president has been settled with the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from the North-west Zone and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo from the South-west, there is a lacuna in the National Assembly leadership owing to the fact both the Senate and the House of Representatives would require new sets of leadership from June.

So many issues have come into the play in the course of deciding the zones to provide leadership in both chambers.

While the APC as a party, may have taken some steps to guide both the senators and the Reps-elect in choosing their leaders, one finds it pertinent to sound a note caution for the party to get it tight before it makes a graver mistake than the one it committed in 2015 by allowing the opposition snatch the leadership from its grip.

The APC which prides itself as a party that is built on the principle of equity and social justice must not jettison this time tested principle due to political convenience.

The key offices in any democratic setting as far as the Nigerian political structure is concerned remains that of the President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In order to respect the principle of federal character, these offices are usually zoned to different regions to give all citizens a sense of belonging.

It is the opinion of well-meaning party members and patriotic elements that the APC cannot afford to go a different way this time.

Indicators from the party caucuses have indicated that the Senate presidency has been zoned to the North-east and Speakership to the South-west.

This is despite the fact that the Vice President as has been widely noted is from the Southwest geopolitical zone.

Ideally, since the interest of the Southwest has been ably taken care of with one of its own as vice president; equity demands that other key slots in the hierarchy of political leadership be given to other zones as well.

Insisting on this course would be ill-advised as it would lock out a substantial part of the country from the scheme of things.

The choice of Femi Gbajabiamila as the Southwest candidate is even worse given that Vice President Osinbajo is not just from the Southwest but from Lagos State, the same with Gbajabiamila who is being touted as the choice of the party for the speakership.

Yes, the President is from the Northwest, but the Nigerian Constitution recognizes six geo-political zones and it is on that basis that those who are making a case for the North-central zone have a point.

As the zoning of the Senate Presidency seat to the North Central by the APC seems to be accepted, the opportunity of spreading the key political positions across the zones would be well served if the speakership goes to the North-central rather than to the South-west because it would mean that no zone would have more than the share due to it.

Besides, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase which the North-central seems to be favoring for the position of speaker has given a good account of himself as both an astute administrator and an experienced legislator to hold the position.

Wase hails from Plateau State and the highest somebody from that state has climbed in the ladder of leadership at the National Assembly was when Ibrahim Mantu was deputy senate president; that was since 2007 about 12 years ago.

Other states in the zone like Benue and Kwara have held the position of Senate President, but Plateau, which has been vibrating towards the APC and its prorgammes have not had that privilege.

Plateau, since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, has been governed by the PDP but with commitment and determination, the APC has been able to upstage the once ruling party and is currently providing leadership in the state.

Plateau in the current democratic dispensation has played a key role in supporting President Buhari to succeed. The Plateau State governor, Simon Bako Lalong is one of those who took the success of the president at the national level as a personal project and had given the APC- led government his full cooperation to succeed.

The party has since captured the state winning the state governorship election back to back and returning higher votes for the president than ever before.

It is the view of this writer that states that have given this much to ensure the success of the party should not be left out in the cold when they want to consolidate on the contributions they have made to the success of the party.

More so as the loyalty of the person in question, Wase, to the party has never been in doubt. He is among those who have been consistent and had supported the party from the scratch.

When the APC evolved in 2014, he became the natural choice to fly the party’s flag in Wase federal Constituency given his background and support to the party.

In the legislature, Wase has been associated with quality bills and has risen to the position of deputy leader having discharged his responsibility as chairman of the Federal Character Commission, effectively.

The opportunity to build the APC to a party that can stand on its own and give a good account of itself beyond the current elections is now and this must start with equity and justice.

Wase has a lot to contribute in supporting the APC led government develop and move the country to the next level,

And there’s no better opportunity to show this than to decide that the current positions in the Senate should be zoned in a way that would encourage all parts to give in their best.

 

Hon. Yaro, a former member of the Plateau State House of Assembly wrote this piece from Kaduna.

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