Calls for use of open ballot system to elect presiding officers
PDP Senators yet to take position on a preferred candidate
Goje yet to declare formally, Ndume vows to run
By Henry Umoru, Assistant Political Editor
ABUJA- AHEAD of the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly and election of Presiding officers, Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, All Progressives Congress, APC, Yobe North has intensified his campaign strategy to actualize his aspiration for the position of Senate President.
This time, Senator Lawan and his team, have taken the awareness and drumming for support to media houses in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
Between Monday and Wednesday, the Senate leader and his supporters visited the headquarters of Daily Trust, Leadership and Blueprint, where he told the world through the media houses his plans for the Senate, if elected.
Senator Lawan is also using the visits to the media houses to canvass for the use of open ballot system to elect the presiding officers against the backdrop that open ballot system being used globally for elections in the parliament is what majority of the federal lawmakers- elect are canvassing for and should be adopted.
According to him, in line with parliamentary practices globally, open and transparent model of election must be used for election of presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly, next month, adding, “In 2007 and 2011 at the inauguration of the 6th and 7th Senate, that was the mode of election adopted where all elected senators, answered their fathers’ names and that is what is expected to be adopted.”
What I’ll do if elected – Lawan
Meanwhile, Lawan, during his visit to one of the media houses, admitted that he was yet to meet the other two strong contenders for the position, former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South and former Gombe State governor and Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central, adding that he was planning to meet with them soon.
Senator Lawan noted that virtually all the remaining Senators -elect on the platform of the APC and most of their counterparts from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have been contacted and keyed into his leadership project. He said however that the support base of his aspiration across the two party lines include most of the 16 former governors, who are senators – elect.
He said: “I am still working the process of meeting with my brothers, Senators Ndume and Goje, but it is a work in progress. I can tell you, almost all the former governors elected as Senators for the 9th Senate, are in this project. They are the movers and shakers of this project. They work tirelessly because they believe we can achieve the desired development- driven synergy between the legislature and the executive.
“We must achieve unity, they hold sway in their states, and they know how important it is to have a legislature, working in collaboration, in tandem with unity and cooperation with the executive arm of government, so almost all of them are on this project.”
Why Ndume is insisting on running
Meanwhile, another strong contender for the position of Senate President, former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South has vowed to challenge the position of the party by contesting for the position of Senate President.
A source very close to Ndume told Vanguard that the former Senate Leader has said that he will not give up, as he was prepared to contest on the floor of the Senate against the backdrop that he had all it takes to be the number three citizen of the country.
According to the source, Ndume was not moved even in spite of the position of the party to adopt , Senator Lawan as the next Senate President.
The source said that rather than step down for Lawan, Ndume would prefers to be defeated after the voting process, even as he was said to have disclosed that he had the required number among the Senators to become the next Senate President.
The source said: “Ndume was elected to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of ANPP in 2003, a position he occupied from 2003 – 2011. On the inauguration of the sixth Assembly in 2007, he was unanimously elected as the Minority Leader. Of course, Ndume had toiled with President Muhammadu Buhari under the ANPP days.
‘’He was first a Minority Leader and Majority Leader before Lawan, in other words, he has more ample lawmaking administrative experience than Lawan. In terms of productivity and efficiency, Ndume has the highest number of bills passed and also topped the chart of bills sponsorship with 64 bills barely within the two years he was senate leader. This was just as no bill passed by the National Assembly was denied assent by the President within the period.”
Goje keeps opponents guessing
Even though there are strong speculations that he is interested in the position of Senate President, Senator Danjuma Goje has not formally declared for the position.
Now that the Senate has passed the 2019 Appropriation Bill that was taking his time as Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, he will formally declare to contest for the position.
Meanwhile, the PDP has not met to take a position on who to support among the aspirants for the position, even though the aspirants are reaching out to PDP Senators individually.
During Lawan’s visit to Blueprint, he was accompanied by 15 senators, even though some of those who have been on consultation train were not with him that very day.
Those who accompanied him were Senators Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North), Ovie Omo- Agege (Delta Central), Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (Lagos West), Jibrin Barau (Kano North), Ahmed Baba Kaita (Katsina North) and Sani Musa (Niger East), Isa Jibrin (Kogi East), and Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa North West) among others.
Before now, other senators who are with and still with Lawan and accompanying him to other places like during his first media briefing in Lagos include the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Francis Alimikhena, APC, Edo North; Ifeanyi Ubah, YPP, Anambra; former Senate leader, Senator Teslin Folarin, Oyo State; jthree Senators-elect from Kwara, two others from Lagos including Adeola who was with him during the visit, another one from Osun, and two others from Yobe, among others.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, recently declared that the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan will have 73 Senators across party lines that will vote for him, just as he said that on June 10, Lawan will garner well over two- thirds of the votes to emerge as the Senate President.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi who had promised that Lawan would run an all inclusive administration, if elected, said that Lawan is presently consulting with APC and PDP senators who will vote on the floor of the hallowed chamber, adding that the upper legislative chamber is an institution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Senator Abdullahi who is the spokesman of the Ahmad Lawan for Senate President, had also said that given the track records of Lawan as an opposition member of National Assembly for 16 years, he understands the feelings of the opposition and would not abuse the privilege, if elected. He added that the Senate Leader’s ambition has continued to receive a boost with more senators-elect throwing their weight behind him to realise his dream.
Re-echoing what Senator Lawan said on open balloting after the courtesy visit, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said: “What majority of us are saying is that on that day, we want voting to be open, no secret balloting. It is as simple and plain as that, because every Assembly that comes dies at the end of its tenure, and when a new one comes in, the Assembly has a new life and right to adopt what it wants to do. Those of us coming on board the 9th Senate want open voting.”
Speaking further during the visits to the media houses, Senator Lawan promised that delays that had in the past, characterised the presentation, consideration and passage of appropriation bills on yearly basis, would be a thing of the past in the 9th National Assembly under his leadership.