Aggrieved Senate Presidency aspirants for the 10th National Assembly, on Thursday, stormed the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja.
The aggrieved aspirants included former Zamfara State Governor and Senator-elect representing Zamfara West, Abdulaziz Yari; Senator representing Niger East, Sani Musa, and former Abia State governor and Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu.
The three Senators who addressed the APC National Working Committee (NWC) led by the party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, expressed the disaffection of their geo-political zones and presented a joint petition to the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
Senator Yari, who was the first to speak, accused the APC NWC of failing to seize the initiative and leaving the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to take a unilateral position on critical party matters.
The former Zamfara State governor said the North which gave the highest number of votes to Tinubu was about to be marginalised and warned of dire consequences.
Yari stated that the North could withdraw its support for the President-elect before the 2027 general elections if the region is sidelined.
He said: “We are here to present our letter of grievances to you and also tell this honourable house as a leader that we are not satisfied with the arrangement and what we are expecting from you People is to give us fair play.
“Mr chairman, we know each and every success came from God. Mr chairman, we from this axis, we strongly believe that we have done our best despite the whole challenges. Everyone has done his best but we are number one. One other thing about people from the North is that they believe Buhari was a messiah.
“That was why they came blindly and picked us without any condition or in regard to anything but despite the fact that many things have happened along the line; they maintain the relationship, they maintain the love and they have not given excuses. In 201-elect beforethe 2027 general elections.
“The president-elect got 63.4 percent of the votes from the North. Where he came from the south he got 36.6 percent. Atiku Abubakar from Northern Nigeria got 68.8 per cent of the total vote and he got from Southern Nigeria 33.2 per cent. So, now if there is anyone who can say we own APC; we own the president-elect, it is Northern Nigeria.
“Without undermining any part of the country, they have given their best and we can understand their situation but justice needs to be done. We should not be blinded that the power of anyone is absolute but only God is absolute. We should not look at these four years as 20 years and then we are going into another election.
“So, whatever decision you are going to take, we are expecting you as a friend that works with the President-elect to tell him not to go there. We don’t need rocket science to explain why you can defend what you are trying to do for the betterment of the APC, and for the betterment of the president.”
Senator Yari also warned of the gang-up of the lawmakers from the Northern against Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Jibrin Barau, on the floor of the Senate on June 13 when the 10th National Assembly would be inaugurated.
He said: “If care isn’t taken, the opposition can have their way, the margin between us and the opposition isn’t much. What we are doing is in the best interest of all of us. Only justice can save this party. Anything to the contrary, walahi talahi Northern Nigeria will take a decision.”
Orji Kalu Speaks
The former Abia State Governor, in his own presentation, said the South-East should not be sidelined in the forthcoming administration because the APC lost in the region.
Kalu who described the victory of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi as a hurricane zone, said the region deserved to be accommodated in the power equation to cement national cohesion.
He said: “We must live together as people who have worked together for many years. So, the votes shouldn’t be a measurement, we had a hurricane in our zone. So, vote cast shouldn’t be used.
“The party needs everybody, those who didn’t work for the party today can work tomorrow. Yes, there was a presidential candidate from the south east and there was a presidential candidate from the other areas. So, I want to appeal to the NWC that every section of the country should be given a pie of the cake.
“I am not saying that the North didn’t vote but there was a time that the South-East was voting for other parties. “We have had elections in this country when the President of Nigeria lost his section of the country but nobody discriminated against him. We must be our brothers keepers by giving something reasonable to the South east. “What you have done doesn’t look very nice. What you have done is against the Constitution.
“I am a party man but this isn’t acceptable to us but this is the first time that I am going to say no to this party. “It is better that the party goes back to the drawing board and reviews what has been done. You zone to a place, you don’t zone to an individual. All the 109 Senators are capable of being Senate President, but you must go back to the drawing board.
“The South east has moved from one governor to two. It won’t be nice to exclude us. We can’t cohabit very well with the stand of our party. We will vote according to our conscience because we are going to do a secret ballot and we have done it before. We have four of us here . Mr. Chairman, it behoves on you as a Senator not to have a divided house from the beginning. When we disobey you, it isn’t going to end very well.”
Also speaking, Senator Musa also declared that the North Central zone has been offered the short end of the stick despite its contributions to the victory of the president-elect.
Musa further warned that if the zoning arrangement was allowed to stand, it would create a grave danger for the promotion of internal party democracy in the ruling party.
He said: “It would have been easier to see if the proposed decision was discussed before it was issued. The party had a meeting with the President elect. As a politician he knows that he has to listen to whatever the party will put on the table. He would have looked at what the party would give him before making a decision. That didn’t happen.
“A decision was taken and we felt: is it to an individual or the party? No one is above the party and we are practicing democracy. The status quo can’t stand.
“We have said that to move forward there must be internal democracy. If we don’t allow internal democracy to prosper, how do we move forward as a nation. The North Central has always been a victim and I ask, are we not part of this country? Every democracy comes with its reward and we talk about building a coalition that will be strong.
“I would have expected my brothers from North West to reject the zoning formular, but they are keeping quiet. Membership of the party is voluntary but my principle isn’t voluntary. This injustice must be corrected. It is only fair that after South West and North East, other zones must be accommodated. Anything short of that, we are being shortchanged. We are pained and the reason is that we put in all the efforts to make sure that APC realized what we wanted. What was that? The Presidency.”
APC Chairman Reacts
In his response to the individual submissions of the aggrieved aspirants, the APC National Chairman admitted that the party was wrong not to have carried the aspirants along before ratifying the zoning template.
He, however, assured the aggrieved Senators that his leadership would open further consultations with the president-elect upon his return from Europe.
He said: “We are happy to receive you to come and express your displeasure for what we have done. 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. I take absolute responsibility for that. And in that spirit, I welcome you to this office on behalf of my colleagues. Yesterday, we received members of the lower chamber who are also contesting for the speakership in the lower chamber and we had similar pronouncements – words of disagreement from them.
“What we will not do today from what we have received from you is to start to open any discussion with you at this sitting as to how what you heard got to be what you heard.
“Yes, there were no sufficient or adequate 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 will go back to the drawing board. We owe our party that duty to take a look wat whether what was done can not be changed; what was done needs some changes or reviews.
“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 an essential voice. We must accommodate him, the best we can. I will not compromise on that.
“So, he 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 ours heads together again and see what we will get. I cannot preempt 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 contributions that will be made.
“We will go through your memo, line by line and ensure that we are able to 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 election, the whole country is looking towards us. We are just counting down to 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 best as human beings to deliver justice to all and sundry.”
“On the issue of the North-Ceentral, I remain tongue-tied talking about north-central. Your argument is extremely plausible. I assure you, we will take a look at what has been given to the public.
“I don’t want to believe that vote is not essential thing. The vote remains the essential thing in every democracy because the vote is the opinion of the populace.”
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