The zoning template for the presiding offices of the 10th National Assembly, as proposed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), continues to generate controversy and opposition from Senators and members of the House of Representatives.
One of the aspirants for the position of Senate President, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, expressed his disagreement with the party’s zoning formula, stating that it is in conflict with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and violates the principle of federal character.
Speaking in Abuja during an interview on Arise News Channel’s breakfast morning show, Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State, criticized the religious balancing aspect of the APC zoning arrangement, stating that it is not recognized by the constitution. He argued that the constitution only provides for the principle of federal character in the distribution of offices to ensure balance, not religion.
Yari further claimed that the APC’s zoning formula for the 10th Senate is unconstitutional and unfair to Northern Nigeria, as all the heads of the three arms of government would be from the southern region. He emphasized the need to adhere to the constitutional provisions and ensure fairness in the distribution of leadership positions.
It should be noted that the APC had previously announced Senator Godswill Akpabio (South-South) as the anointed candidate for Senate President and Senator Barau Jibril (North-West) as the Deputy for the incoming 10th Senate. The controversy surrounding the zoning arrangement continues to create divisions within the party and among lawmakers.
“I am particularly talking about the APC, if they decide to zone (Senate leadership positions), we ask them a question, on what do you based the zoning? Have you taken the federal character into cognizance, where the President, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Assembly chairman, the three arms of government, are in one place? Yari asked.
“The present Chief Justice of Nigeria is from Oyo State; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President-elect is from Lagos State, and Akpabio is from Akwa Ibom State at the same time. While the next Chief Justice of the Federation (Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun) is also going to be from the South-West.
“So, have you ever seen, let’s say since 1960, whether this kind of thing has happened during the Shagari era, coming to Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan? It only happened during Buhari’s time slightly before CJN Onnoghen took over the Judiciary for some time.
“Now it happens that (with APC zoning arrangement), all the three arms of government are in the Southern part of the country. How could that be fair to Northern Nigeria?”