Despite the preference of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as Senate president and House of Representatives Speaker, some of its National Assembly members-elect are still showing interest in the top jobs.
Others have, however, accepted the party’s decision and dropped their ambition.
Former Abia State governor and Abia North Senator-elect Orji Uzor Kalu and House of Representatives member-elect Khadija Bukar-Abba have withdrawn from the Senate presidency and Speakership race.
But Kalu is praying the party to reconsider the Southeast for the principal positions in the incoming Ninth Assembly.
Speaking with reporters after an APC stakeholder meeting in Abia State, the former governor said if the principal positions were not equitably distributed among the geopolitical zones, especially the Southeast, the APC might find it difficult to win future elections, particularly in 2023.
According to him, apart from President Muhammadu Buhari, no other person in the APC currently has the followership and capacity to single-handedly garner 12 million votes.
Kalu said: “We are not going to be having another Muhammadu Buhari because Buhari is the only individual in the party who single-handedly polled 10-12 million votes alone. So the contribution of every region in the country will be very vital to the elections the party will be participating in, in the coming years. So leaving the Southeast behind will be detrimental and dangerous. It is very vital to share the leadership positions equitably to give every region a sense of belonging.”
On APC’s performance in the elections in the Southeast, Kalu said: “For me, it is erroneous to state that our zone did not vote for APC in the last elections because there was tremendous improvement judging from what we had in 2015. From 3% to 27% in Abia and some other states so for me we should respect the leadership of our party, and the leadership should also respect our views.
“If you have shared the positions and you didn’t share well, include our region in the sharing so that we can be empowered to go out and continue campaigning and mobilising for the party and soliciting for our people’s vote. These are very simple things to do and nobody would want the party to lose anything. Yes, we should learn from our mistakes in the Southeast; I am sure we shall continue to improve. What we had in 2015 is not what we had in 2019 in terms of results.”
He said the Assembly leadership struggle was not for him alone, noting: “It’s not going to be my fight alone; it’s going to be our fight once we are ready, we are going to involve our traders, our religious leaders and some other people to, first of all, understand that APC is a national party and it’s a party that has the capability to cover the interest of the Igbo.
“My position on contesting the Senate Presidency has changed and we respect the decision of the party. Except we want to deceive ourselves the Senate President usually comes from the region that produces the President. So when you go back to history and see what it stands for you don’t need to cause more headaches for the party. You need to align with the decision of the party.”