Prior to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13th, the North Central People’s Forum (NCPF), representing stakeholders from the North Central region, conveyed their dissatisfaction to President Bola Tinubu regarding the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). The NCPF expressed gratitude for the appointment of Senator George Akume as the SGF but asserted that this alone was inadequate to address their concerns. They insisted that a representative from the North Central should hold the position of Deputy Senate President, and an individual from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should be appointed as a minister, preferably the FCT minister.
Citing the significant number of votes Tinubu received from the region in the previous presidential election, the NCPF argued that the North Central deserved the office of the Deputy Senate President and the FCT ministerial position. In a statement released by the forum’s National Publicity Secretary, Hon Audu Sule, they emphasized the expectation that one of their own should be appointed as the FCT minister, considering the states within the North Central region, including Abuja, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, and Kwara.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had announced the endorsement of Senator Godswill Akpabio and three others for key positions in the National Assembly, which drew criticism and protests from some party members aspiring for leadership positions. The APC’s zoning arrangement faced scrutiny for allocating two out of the six presiding offices to a single zone, while leaving the North Central without any positions. Additionally, the decision to assign the Deputy Speaker position to the South-East rather than the Senate Presidency, as believed by many, caused further dissatisfaction.
In an attempt to appease the North Central zone and influence the leadership contest within the 10th National Assembly, President Tinubu appointed Senator Akume as the SGF. However, the NCPF asserted that the SGF position could not serve as a substitute for the office of the Deputy Senate President, which holds significant presiding authority in the Senate.
The NCPF mentioned that Senator Sani Musa from Niger East, who chairs the Senate Services Committee, is vying for the position of Deputy Senate President and has the support of Senators-elect from the region. Additionally, the current Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, remains determined to contest the position of Speaker. The NCPF speculated that Akume’s appointment as SGF may have been intended to facilitate Hon. Abbas from the North-West becoming the Speaker.
While expressing appreciation for Akume’s appointment as SGF, the NCPF emphasized that it did not sufficiently address their concerns. They urged the allocation of the Deputy Senate President position to the North Central, which they had not previously occupied. Furthermore, they called for the consideration of a candidate from the North Central region for the FCT ministerial role, citing their familiarity with the area and the historical precedent of previous administrations appointing ministers from the region.