By Ismail Omipidan
Zoning is usually done before going into the contest. But APC appears not to have learnt any lesson from the 2015 mistakes.
Let me however add that even with zoning, there is no guarantee that some persons will not try to thwart it. This explains why in 2007, despite zoning the Senate presidency to the North Central, with David Mark as the party’s preferred choice, persons from within and outside the zone still mobilised against him and attempted to take it away. But in the end, Mark made it and PDP was happier for it.
However, in 2011, PDP was not so lucky. It zoned the speakership to the South West, but some PDP elements teamed up with the ACN then to thwart it. Tambuwal from the North West emerged.
And in 2015, PDP gave back to APC what it did to it in 2011.
Now, with just two months away from the inauguration of the 9th Senate, I see APC repeating the same mistake. They are yet to zone. But the North East and South East is bidding seriously for the position.
Ordinarily, since zoning and balancing of political positions have always been part of the country’s democratic experience, the essence of which is to give a sense of belonging to all Nigerians, I would have suggested they give it to the South East. But I doubt if the zone will be considered.
APC must however watch it. It has the required number to produce the president of the Senate alone. But that can only happen if there is no contest for the position among the various interests and tendencies that make up the party. But once there is contest, any of the tendencies will require the support of the PDP to get elected. This is where the problem lies.
From the North East, there are three front runners. Ahmed Lawan, Danjuma Goje and Ali Ndume. Of the three, one is seen as an extremist. As I write, he does not enjoy the support of some APC Senators-elect and majority of the PDP Senators-elect. This candidate can only emerge, where there is no contest at all. But if there’s one, I doubt if he will make it. Another is seen as a betrayal. But they believe he could be managed ahead of the one seen as an extremist. The other is seen as a more mature person who has what it takes to lead the Senate.
If APC is desirous of having a rancour-free inauguration, it must begin work now! It must not be arrogant about it. It is about Nigeria. It must make deliberate efforts to reach out to the opposition. In doing so, APC must enlist the support of those who command the respectof the opposition members. Also, if APC wants the speakership in the South West, it must not insist same zone produces the Deputy President of the Senate, else it will backfire. I rest my case for now.