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APC leaders set for crucial meeting over zoning of key national offices

Some leaders and elders of the All Progressives Congress will on Wednesday hold a crucial meeting in Abuja to review the party’s performance in the just-concluded general elections.

The National Chairman of the party, John Oyegun, confirmed the meeting in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.

He said the party would hold its National Executive Committee meeting next week.

Mr. Oyegun, a former governor of Edo State, refused to disclose the specific agenda of Wednesday’s meeting, which some believe was convened to consider the zoning of the office of the Senate President and that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He merely said “we are still looking at all options,” when asked what the party was doing about zoning of the National Assembly leadership positions.

There has been anxiety in the polity over which of the geo-political zones would produce the two presiding officers and their deputies following inability of the APC contestants in the South East to win a single seat in the March 28 National Assembly elections.

All 15 senatorial seats and 43 House seats in the zone were won by the Peoples Democratic Party.

The APC had originally planned to zone the Senate Presidency or the office of Speaker to the South East, comprising Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Enugu since its presidential candidate and now president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, is from the North West zone and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, from the South West zone.

Mr. Oyegun, two weeks ago in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, expressed sadness that the South East did not elect any APC member into the National Assembly during the March 28 election.

Some reports say the national leadership of the party at a meeting at the Abuja home of Mr. Oyegun last Thursday set up a five-man panel to resolve the thorny issue.

There are, however, conflicting reports about the outcome of the meeting.

While reports say the leaders constituted a five-member panel to work out the formula for sharing the major positions ahead of the May 29 inauguration of the APC federal administration, sources at the party’s national secretariat, who would not want to be named because he was not authorised to do so, told PREMIUM TIMES no such panel was named.

There are also allegations that the report submitted by the panel, whose membership included a former governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni and George Muoghalu, was doctored.

According to reports, the panel recommended that the office of the Senate President be zoned to the North Central while that of the Speaker should go to the North East zone even though the president-elect is from the North West.

However, a member of the National Working Committee of the party, who claimed to be privy to discussions said, “the zoning formula in the public now did not emanate from the NWC”.

“This is not 1993; the present realities do not support ceding the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North alone. What we did was to cede the Senate President to the North east and the Speaker to the House of Representatives,” he stated.

There was also an allegation that “some members of the committee were compromised with $100,000 shared to influential members while less influential members got only $50,000.”

The APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, had on Monday asked Nigerians, particularly members of the party, to disregard media reports about zoning of leadership offices in the National Assembly.

“No appointments have been made and no offices have been zoned. The main concern of our party at the moment is to ensure a smooth transition and to hit the ground running, in the overall interest of the long-suffering people of Nigeria,” Mr. Mohammed said in a statement.

“At the appropriate time, Nigerians will be informed of the appointments made and the offices zoned.”

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