As part of the last-minute efforts to resolve the controversy arising from the zoning of the National Assembly leadership positions by the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Bola Tinubu will on Sunday meet with the incoming senators and House of Representatives members elected on the platform of the ruling party.
Tinubu will also hold meetings with Senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect from the opposition parties on Monday, in a move to secure their support for the candidates anointed by the APC.
This is as the acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ambassador Umar Damagum, has called on the members of the party in the National Assembly to work as a family on the issue of the leadership controversy.
The ruling party had in consultation with President Tinubu, anointed Senators Godswill Akpabio (South-South) and Barau Jibrin (North-west) as its preferred candidates for the positions of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President, respectively.
In the same vein, the party had also endorsed Tajudeen Abbas (North-west) and Benjamin Kalu (South-east) for the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
But some lawmakers of the ruling party, including former governors Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, and Senator Osita Izunaso, among others, had expressed their opposition to the zoning arrangement and vowed to pursue their ambitions to contest the various positions.
Yari, in particular, has argued that the zoning arrangement is unfair to the North, insisting that it will deny the region the headship of any of the three arms of government.
On their part, lawmakers from the North-central had also rejected the zoning formula because no position was zoned to the area while the party zoned two positions to the North-west.
To ensure that the preferred candidates of the APC do not lose the elections, Tinubu has scheduled to parley the National Assembly members-elect from the ruling party and the opposition parties.
THISDAY gathered that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC led by the National Chairman, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, and other critical stakeholders of the party are also expected to attend Sunday’s meeting, which will be held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Izunaso, who is a strong contender for the position of the Senate President, confirmed Sunday’s proposed meeting in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday after a courtesy call on the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Izunaso said the meeting with Tinubu would discuss the issue of the presiding officers’ positions in the 10th National Assembly even as he dismissed the zoning arrangement announced by the APC as mere advisory.
He also confirmed the alliance talks between aspirants who were not favoured by the zoning template released by the party.
He said, “I am the next Senate president.
That does not mean we are not talking to Senator-elect, Abdulaziz Yari.
“We are consulting as much as he is also doing. We are also talking to other people who are contesting for the Senate Presidency.
“I can assure you that at the end of the day, Osita Izunaso will be the next Senate President.
“Nobody has been chosen yet. Don’t make that mistake. When the party chooses someone, we would know. The party is just calling for a better and wider consultation.
“We are just getting an invitation to meet the party tomorrow (today). There is no zoning template, the party merely advised.
“Aspirants have been visiting the National Chairman of the APC and what has been his disposition to it? In fact, someone was addressed as a speaker and he told them nobody has been made speaker yet. There is no zoning yet.”
Speaking earlier during the courtesy visit, Izunaso pledged that the 10th National Assembly under his leadership, would not antagonise the executive arm of government.
He said, “We are going to put the record straight and educate Nigerians on what constitutes constituency projects and the constituency allowance. All the negative notions about jumbo pay are also not correct.”
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo described Izunaso as the best among all the senators vying for the position in terms of competency, experience, capacity, and integrity.
“Izunaso is an outstanding journalist, brilliant lawyer, and a man of integrity and high capacity who would rebrand the National Assembly and give the Legislature and the country a better image,” he added.