– Why Buhari should step in to stop Saraki hijacking 9th Senate – Nabena
By Emmanuel Aziken Political Editor and Omeiza Ajayi
Amidst concern of a free for all by three leading candidates for the office of Senate President, a senior national officer of the All Progressives Congress, APC yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to step in to avoid the party losing out in the end.
The call came as the three leading candidates for the office of Senate President continued to dig in. It also emerged yesterday that the national leadership of the APC had commenced discussions on the zoning of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly.
Irrespective of the deliberations of the party leadership, the three leading candidates, Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan, Senator Danjuma Goje and Senator Ali Ndume all of whom are from the Northeast have continued to lobby senators-elect for support.
The same game Vanguard learned is also going on in the House of Representatives where the outgoing leader, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila may have emerged as the frontline contender. However, sources in the House say that the Gbajabiamila aspiration is, however, not unassailable based on contentions of personality.
Lawan who was the favourite of the party leadership for the office of Senate President Vanguard gathered has emerged at the head of the pack and in the view of some stakeholders already acting the role.
However, his aspiration based on the momentum arising from the Eight Senate sources said could be derailed by the determination of his major challengers who according to sources are not likely to give up.
Goje a former minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration who went on to serve as governor of Gombe State for two terms and now serving his second term is aspiring to be the president of the Senate in his third term.
“I don’t see Goje giving up, and the battle could well go to the Senate floor,” one source familiar with the development said yesterday.
Senator Ndume Vanguard gathered is also raising momentum in the contest with his supporters dismissing his past trial of having a link with Boko Haram as a political trial.
“That Boko Haram trial was a political activist, he was never involved,” one source said yesterday.
It was also learned that some of the candidates had also approached the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP caucus for support with Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the outgoing Deputy President of the Senate being among the key senators being wooed. The PDP is expected to have at least 40 senators in the forthcoming Ninth Senate.
Ekweremadu, Vanguard gathered has yet to incline himself towards any of the contenders on the claim that with the Southeast now having Southeast senators that he would not rule any eligible senator from the region out of the contest.
Meanwhile, a senior national officer of the APC has called on President Buhari to immediately intervene in the zoning of the National Assembly positions as he alleged a plot by the PDP to again take the initiative as it did in 2015.
Yekini Nabena, the deputy national publicity secretary of the APC in a statement yesterday said the alleged plans by the PDP has the support of a former Head of State, warning his party to urgently rollout the zoning arrangements to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2015.
Addressing journalists Tuesday in Abuja, Nabena alleged that the outgoing Senate President and his party, PDP had devised plans to ensure that their loyalists take control of the legislative arm of government.
Nabena said: “The outgoing Senate President and the PDP caucus have begun surreptitious moves to lure some new APC lawmakers with juicy committee positions in return for their support for the PDP choice for the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives.
“Already, Saraki’s henchman, Dino Melaye and some other returning PDP federal lawmakers have scheduled meetings with some APC lawmakers from Wednesday to Sunday in a yet-to-be-announced venue.”
While calling for urgent intervention by the APC leadership, the Deputy spokesman stated that “it is important that the APC leadership meets and urgently roll out a fair zoning arrangement to ensure that we produce our preferred candidates for all leadership positions in the incoming National Assembly.
The APC’s failure to allow what some party chieftains described as a common ground for all interested candidates to aspire for the leadership contest four years ago led to Senators Saraki and Ekweremadu emerging as presiding officers of the Senate after a tendency in the Senate caucus backed a deal with the PDP.
In the House of Representatives, suave moves spearheaded by the immediate past Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and personality traits radiated by Speaker Yakubu Dogara helped to upset the APC’s permutations that had projected Gbajabiamila as Speaker.
The contention in the House of Representatives is, however, less contentious at least for now. While Gbajabiamila remains the clear favourite in the face of no clear challenger, sources in the House of Representatives yesterday said the potential for the emergence of a dark horse to challenge the House leader remained very, very viable.