Tuesday, December 5, 2023
HomeAnti-corruption,Governance,Election Project10th National Assembly: Before It Is Too Late

10th National Assembly: Before It Is Too Late

By Majeed Dahiru

The simmering tension in Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress over the composition of the
leadership of the next [10 th ] National Assembly, which is expected to be inaugurated in June 2023,
may have boiled over to the surface if the latest information from their governors’ forum is anything

to go by. A recent exclusive report by Premium Times newspapers revealed the contents of a memo
from the APC governors under the aegis of the Progressives Governors Forum to the President Elect,
Bola Tinubu, intimating him of their concerns and suggestions about the current tussle for leadership
positions by members of the party. While suggesting some workable zoning arrangements to give
every section of Nigeria a sense of inclusion in the incoming government, the governors expressed
concerns that if the president elect does not step in now and guide the leadership election process
of the 10 th assembly in this regard, it might be too late as aspirants may have gone too far to comply
with any resolution by the party leadership.
According to the APC governors, ‘’It is imperative that the President-elect and the Party wade into
this situation and announce an acceptable zoning formula as soon as possible. This is necessary to
prevent over investment by candidates, which leads to acrimony and bitterness. New senators-elect
and members-elect are being offered thousands of dollars’’. And as though to drive home the point
of over investment by prospective aspirants for various leadership positions of the incoming national
assembly, the governors added, ‘’Indeed, it is being rumoured that one aspirant the Senate
Presidency and another for the Speakership are willing to offer as much as $ 500,000 to $ 1,000,000
per vote. Opposition party members of the National Assembly are being courted with the likelihood
of the 2015 scenario presenting itself if care is not taken’’.
On the important matter of ensuring a regional and religious balance in the government at centre,
the APC governors are not oblivious of the polarisation of the polity that was brought about by their
party’s Muslim/Muslim presidential candidacy, which almost cost it the 2023 election. And to
ameliorate this situation, the APC governors are suggesting that the Senate Presidency be zoned to
either the south east or south south geo-political zones with the aim of producing a southern
Christian senate President to balance the Muslim/Muslim presidency of Nigeria, while the
speakership position should be zoned to the North West geo-political zone.
Considering the realities of the times in Nigeria, the concerns expressed by the powerful governors
of the ruling APC are as valid as their suggestions are pragmatic. After eight years in power when it
displaced the former ruling People’s Democratic Party from the centre in 2015,the ruling APC
managed to retain presidential power in a tightly contested election with the narrowest margin of
win since the 4 th Republic. With about 8.7 million votes, the APC managed to only secure a little
above a third of the total vote cast of about 24 million and majority votes in just 12 out of 36 states
of the federation and the FCT [Abuja]. And whereas, the APC won a majority of the seats in the
upper [Senate] with 60 out of the 109 and lower [House of Representatives] 179 out of 360
chambers of the National Assembly, it is clear that the party do not have a firm control of the
legislature. Whilst the APC conventionally has the first right of refusal in the election of the National
Assembly leadership, the significant number of newly elected opposition federal legislators leaves
the ruling party vulnerable to external interference in its choice of candidates.

This is because, the leadership of the National Assembly, though conventionally reserved for the
majority party is not always its exclusive preserve as the law prescribes an open contest on the floor
of each of the chambers with law makers voting freely their choices as presiding officers [Senate
President and Speaker]. And with the presence of a significant minority of legislators in the National
Assembly, it becomes imperative for the leadership of the ruling APC to put its house in order so as
to prevent dissenters from within its ranks from getting elected as presiding officers with the
support of opposition elements.
Before it is too late, the president-elect must step forward and take leadership of the process of
building a consensus within the rank and file of his party over contentious issues of zoning and other
matters arising. In this regard, the APC may consider adopting the PDP zoning arrangement of 1999-
2007 as post 2023 Nigeria seems to be a replay of the first 8 years of the 4 th Republic. As it was with
the PDP in 1999, so it is that APC president is from the south west, vice president from the north
east and current party chairman from north central. With these three positions already in place, the
APC like the PDP may consider zoning the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to
the North West, Senate Presidency to the south east and Secretary to the Government of the
Federation to the south south.
However, beyond the internal dynamics of consensus building within the APC to reach an acceptable
resolution, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as the president-elect and leader of the ruling party will have
to reach out to the presidential candidates and leaders of the opposition parties and communicate
the position of his party. In seeking for their support, the president-elect will have to make
assurances and guarantees that the choice of the ruling party for the leadership position is borne out
of his desire to secure a legislative mandate for his executive decisions in line with his manifesto but
not a attempt to foist a rubber stamp legislature on Nigerians. This kind of consultations, which is in
line with global best parliamentary practices, will have to be extended to leading members of the
opposition legislators and minority caucuses in order to firm up support for the choice of the APC for
the leadership positions in the National Assembly.
Failure to achieve this orderly emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly may alter the
zoning arrangements of the party and exclude certain sections of the country; a situation that may
aggravate the already deeply polarised country in urgent need of healing and reconciliation through
fairness, equity, justice and inclusion. And this will not be in the interest of the incoming government
given the fact that while Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu won the 2023 presidential election his party
the APC lost Nigeria as more Nigerians voted against the ruling party than for it.

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