FORMER Abia State governor Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is being tipped to become either the next majority leader or chief whip of the senate in a bid to compensate the southeast geo-political zone for losing out on key National Assembly leadership positions.
On Tuesday, elections were held into the leadership positions of both houses of the National Assembly but no Igbo official was elected. Under Nigeria’s informal zoning arrangement, all the six geo-political zones get one of the top offices and with the president and vice president coming from the northwest and southwest respectively, the four other zones had been expected to clinch the National Assembly leadership.
In the senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan from the northeast was elected as president and the deputy senate presidency went to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from the south-south. In the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila from the southwest was elected as the speaker, while Hon Idris Wase from the north central geopolitical zone was elected as his deputy.
Over the next few days, the focus will now shift to filling the remaining16 principal offices and a rat race has already started. In the senate, a former majority leader, Senator Teslim Folarin representing Oyo Central senatorial District, is being tipped by some to be given his old job back with the southeast getting deputy majority leader and chief whip.
All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders are said to be considering Senator Kalu representing Abia North Senatorial District for either senate deputy majority leader of chief whip. He may, however, become majority leader as the southeast has lost out in all the major positions so far and the APC does not want to be seen as marginalising the geo-political zone.
Party insiders told Vanguard Wednesday night that a former Senate Leader and third time Senator, Teslim Folarin representing Oyo Central is being considered for another shot at the same job while former Governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu representing Abia North is being considered for either deputy senate leader or chief whip.
One APC leader said: “I know for a fact that the president will have a chat with some party leaders including the new National Assembly leadership tonight. Anything can come up from there but the southeast is most likely to get chief whip and maybe the north central the deputy chief whip.
Both chambers of the National Assembly will produce eight positions each including majority leader, deputy majority leader, chief whip, deputy chief whip, minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip. All the slots will be filled by the parties’ caucuses in consultation with their leaderships.
In the House of Representatives, the likes of Ado Doguwa from Kano State, Mohammed Bago from Niger State, Nkeiru Onyejeocha from Abia State, Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State, John Dyegh from Benue State and Ossai Nicholas from Delta State are among those being considered for some of the vacant offices. It is not yet clear, however, who the APC intends to zone the House majority leader to.