Sharing Formula: APC Must Get It Right | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Sharing Formula: APC Must Get It Right

Posted: Jun 6, 2015 at 1:36 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

This piece was first published in this column mid-May. Given the present scenario in the camp of the ruling All Progressive Congress APC, the issues raised then are still very relevant, especially as the party, unlike the PDP, says zoning is not part of its constitution. This may portend a dangerous development in our body polity, especially for the minority tribes.

There have been so many commentaries and stories in the media as to the abysmal performance of the political octopus called the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded general elections. These pitfalls are not new to anybody, especially the political class and I believe the party of the moment, the All Progressive Congress, APC should learn some lessons from it. Unfortunately, the way the leadership of the party has broken into camps for the purpose of sharing the “spoil of office” gives cause for concern. Sad enough, they are going about the sharing/zoning of plum offices pretending to be in the nation’s interest, but deep down their hearts, most of them are out to pursue individual selfish agenda.

Like I said last week, the APC must inculcate the culture of discipline in its members from the top to bottom. Indiscipline has been the bane of the PDP which led to its implosion and eventual relegation to an opposition party in the country. The zoning formula must be done with utmost care to reflect fairness, equity and justice across board. The media was awash weekend with the proposed zoning arrangement of the APC subject to ratification by the party’s NEC this week. I must say that if that proposal is allowed to stand, it may mark the beginning of intra-party squabbles in the APC. For instance, how does one explain a situation where the president resides in the North and some persons still want the senate president and the speaker to be in the North? That is, the South will be left with just the vice president and other crumbs. This is inequitable. It is fair enough for the big ‘FOUR’, President, Vice President, Senate President and the House Speaker to be shared between North and South, two apiece. Anything short of this will be unfair and leaves power tilting towards one side, gives room for suspicion. In fact, some persons are already shouting northern agenda with the proposal made last week which is still subject to ratification of the NEC. Every zone of the country must be carried along and given a genuine sense of belonging. The scale of justice must balance. Again, the South West which already has the Vice President and still angling for the House Speaker slot must be seen to be asking for too much to the detriment of other zones in the South. Yes, the zone voted massively for the party, its vote alone could not have made Buhari the president of Nigeria. This is why it should take other zones into consideration while making its demand.

The leadership of the party should guard against the spirit of winner takes all at this moment so as not to send wrong signals to some parts of the country as if they are not wanted. Though, the South East has no elected ranking APC member to be given any principal office in the 8th national assembly, the zone must be carried along by way of conceding some appointments to it in key government agencies and departments. The South South is where the out-going president comes from, therefore, it cannot be left bare without a commensurate appointment zoned to it. It will not be out of place for it to be considered for one of the big ‘Four’. With the vice president in the South West, it will be fair enough for the House Speaker to be conceded to the South South. The zone looks up to Governors Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and of course, the party’s national chairman, Odigie Oyegun to use their good offices and attract the best to their people without being shortchanged, especially with the presidency leaving the zone.

However, some persons may want to argue that in the out- going dispensation, the vice president and the House Speaker came from the same zone, North West while the Senate President is from the North Central. That is, out of the big four, only the president resides in the South. I must say that it was an aberration because it was not meant to be so by the PDP leadership following the inauguration of the Jonathan government May 29, 2011 and the subsequent proclamation of the 7th National Assembly. The seeming fair and equitable zoning arrangement put in place by the PDP leadership was truncated due to high level indiscipline on the part of some of its leaders and to some extent, on the part of members. The party had zoned the House Speaker to the South West so that the president and the House Speaker reside in the South while the vice president and the senate president be in the North. History has a way of repeating itself, the entire South West but Oyo State voted APC ranking members in the 2011 elections.

So, Oyo was the only state left to produce the House Speaker. The same scenario is currently playing out in the South South where Edo is the only state in the zone that voted the APC, against all odds, it delivered 41.66 per cent to the party. As the PDP threw its weight behind Hon (Mrs) Mulikat Akande Adeola from Ogbomosho in June 2011, Obasanjo and some of his associates in the party backed Hon Funsho Muriano from Ibadan. That set the stage for the cataclysm in the green chamber that eventually tore the PDP along the line of godfathers and of course, the beginning of its end as the dominant party in Nigeria. This is a lesson for the APC if only it chooses to learn. The party must insist that positions shared to any zone be left to be contested for by members from the zone only under an atmosphere devoid of intimidation.

Hon Aminu Tambuwal and his friend, Emeka Ihedioha latched on this crack in the party hierarchy and emerged as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively to the utter embarrassment of the party. That is how indiscipline shattered the PDP zoning arrangement in the 7th National Assembly. For now, the APC as a party appears more cohesive and it must not allow its members, especially the lawmakers to behave like sheep without shepherd. But can the party instill this much needed discipline given the fact that its top hierarchy has already pitched tent with some aspirants for the national assembly leadership positions? No doubt, the struggle for the leadership of the national assembly remains an acid test for the APC, the management will, to a large extent, determines the level of discipline in the party and will define its preparedness to keep its position as the ruling party.