SONI DANIEL reporting
The brewing crisis in the All Progressives Congress over the zoning of principal officers’ offices has been blamed on a top principal officer who unilaterally orchestrated the selection now causing ripples in the ruling party.
The principal officer, who is said to be very close to the president-elect and reportedly wields significant political influence, is reported to have misled the President-elect into jettisoning his preferred choices of principal officers especially in the House of Representatives, where the said officer commands more power and authority, reports Saturday Vanguard.
A top APC official told our correspondent that while the APC National Working Committee and the president-elect were in favour of a female candidate from the South-East to be appointed as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in line with the party’s Affirmative Action for women, the top official, presented a male candidate from Abia State for the post, claiming that he is a lawyer and better than the female from Imo State, who has a master’s degree in Management.
It was gathered that the decision of the principal officer, if not reversed, would effectively deny women any position in the six decision-making posts in the National Assembly come June this year.
Another bigwig of the APC familiar with the series of meetings held by the NWC and other party leaders, to zone the positions in the NASS to favour states that produced more candidates for the APC and ensure gender balance as promised by the president-elect and the APC during the campaign, accused the powerful principal officer of selecting and presenting only candidates that are close and loyal to him to the chagrin of the leadership of the party now seriously embarrassed by the protests from credible party members excluded from the NASS contest.
The source said, “For instance, when it came to the deputy speaker position, the party had agreed that a suitable Southern Christian candidate should be considered, but the said officer was able to convince party leaders that the slot should go to Abia State on the claim that the South East because the SouthSouth was being considered for Senate President.
“That was when the agenda unfolded. He was insistent that a particular candidate, from the South East should be considered as the deputy speaker. Several speakers at the meeting opposed his choice but he was able to persuade party leaders to adopt his candidate for the position.”
Another party source present at the meeting said a top-ranking APC leader objected to his choice but he countered that the candidate from the South East would “serve the party better” not minding that Imo State produced more candidates and votes for the APC than Abia State whose candidate, he favours.
It was also gathered that other senior party members at the meeting were not in support of his candidate and asked the party to “adopt the president-elect’s campaign promises that women would be given prime positions in his government.
“We urge the party to remember that it is only the APC that has been in the forefront of inclusivity with regards to having women in positions of power and they should also remember that the APC has promised women their 35 per cent slots in government.
“We also plead with the party to note that in the 10th Assembly, it would be against our principles not to correct the anomaly in the 9th Assembly where no woman was a presiding officer.”
It will be recalled that the controversy generated by the list of proposed principal officers for the 10th NASS has already forced the APC to have rethink and may revisit the issue at its next meeting to douse the tension and prevent defeat during the vote for the officers
“The NWC has met and they have taken into consideration the agitations from members interested in contesting the leadership positions. We have met and we will soon write a report to be submitted for consideration by the president-elect and other party leaders. The President-elect is not in the country right now but the report would be ready before he returns,” a party official said.