Controversy over NASS leadership positions influenced by 2019 politics – Senator-elect, Shehu Sani

Shehu SaniThe All Progressives Congress senator-elect for Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, has warned of dangers ahead for the party if it continues to foot drag on the issue of zoning for the office the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

According to the rights activist, the Peoples Democratic Party might hijack the process to its advantage.

The senator-elect gave the warning in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday.

The APC, which will form the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is yet to zone the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House as well as their deputies, with less than three weeks to the inauguration of the 5th session of the National Assembly.

Mr. Sani, who is the Director of Civil Rights Congress, said the failure of the party to determine which zone should produce the presiding officers is not only giving the PDP confidence that it could negotiate for anything, but has also divided the APC senators, both serving and incoming.

He said, “There are three consequences of this delay. First, it has divided the APC senators and members of the House of Representatives into different camps. This is dangerous because the implication is that we may have a divided house.

“Secondly, it is building acrimony, discontent and suspicion among the APC members and as a result the interest of the party is becoming secondary.

“Thirdly, the PDP is using this division to extract commitment from the contestants. That is to say if they back a candidate and if the candidate wins they will get what under normal circumstance they don’t deserve”.

Mr. Sani said the race for the National Assembly top job is being influenced by some external forces in readiness for the 2019 general elections, stressing “what you see now is the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau”.

He stated that some of the candidates are already making claims of having the support of top party leaders, including the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The senator-elect, however, expressed joy that the statement by Mr. Buhari in which he said he was ready to work with anybody elected as the presiding office of any of the chambers had put paid to rumours that he (Buhari) was backing a particular candidate for the Senate Presidency.

He added, “I think the problem with the selection of the leadership of the National Assembly is the problem of politics of 2019. There are forces outside the Senate that are interested in the leadership that will control the Senate for their own interest.

“The division within the APC and the refusal of APC to be categorical on zoning is giving the PDP the confidence to do things and blackmail it.

“APC must put its house in order or else we may end up with a poisonous choice. Somebody has to call the three contestants and sit them down to sort things out”.

Mr. Sani explained that although the APC was yet to take a firm decision on zoning of the National Assembly positions, he and some other senators-elect on the party’s platform attended the meeting convened by one of the leading contenders, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday night because they were free to associate with anybody.

“For now since the party has not zoned it, it means that any senator is free to attend any meeting or multiple meetings”, he said.

“If the party makes its position known, there are people who will naturally step down from the race. A lot of heat is being built by the contestants. The APC in the National Assembly is divided. Once the party makes its position known the activities will be gravitated towards the zone”, Mr. Sani added.