By Henry Umoru
AHEAD of the 2023 presidential election, strong indications have emerged that senators elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are sharply divided over the ambitions of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
The division has been glaring before the March 26 National Convention of the APC when the senators were divided over the aspirants for the National Chairman against the backdrop that the APC had zoned the position to the North-Central.
Prior to the emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the National Chairman of the ruling party via consensus, senators were not on the same page as some supported Adamu while others were divided between Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East and Senator Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa).
Similar scenario is rearing its head in the Senate as camps are emerging for Tinubu, Osinbajo and Amaechi.
Preparatory to the APC National Convention, it had been alleged that the senators in the camp of Adamu were also working for the emergence of Amaechi as the presidential candidate of the party, even as it was alleged that they have chosen Adamu because of their belief that nobody would be able to influence whatever decision President Muhammadu Buhari wanted him to take ahead of the 2023 elections.
An indication to the split among the senators was displayed when Adamu, before the Convention, unveiled his Campaign Office in Area 11, Opposite Radio House.
Senators who attended the ceremony and spoke at the occasion included Deputy
President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, APC, Delta Central; Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North; Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, APC, Abia North; Adamu Aliero, APC, Kebbi Central and Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South.
They all spoke clearly about their belief in Adamu and the fact that he had the competence and capability to lead the party.
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Soon after the Convention and with the emergence of Adamu as the National Chairman of the party, Amaechi declared for the 2023 presidency and, barely 48 hours after his declaration, he made Ndume the Director-General of his Campaign Organization.
This is a masterstroke as many analysts believe Ndume has what it takes to pull many senators to support his candidate against the backdrop that he is a likeable personality.
Ndume has been around in the National Assembly for a while; he was in the House of Representatives, he was Senate leader before contesting with Senator Ahman Lawan for the position of the President of the Senate and the chairs a very strong Committee that is Committee on Army.
Meanwhile, as part of his consultations for the 2023 presidency, Tinubu, on March 16, visited the Senate Caucus of the APC during which he vowed that if he becomes President, he will not step on the toes of Buhari, but step into his shoes.
He asked the Senate Caucus of the party to support his lifetime ambition to be President.
The APC National Leader was received by Lawan with almost all senators of the party in attendance.
Tinubu, who noted that he was at the Senate for counsel, partnership and support, said, “Nigerians have come to that stage where we need a change of baton. “Election is coming up in February. We have various programmes including the nomination process, primary process and all of that. I can’t do it by myself and I can’t do it by sitting at home expecting that many friends I have here will do it for me.
“I believe jointly we can do it. You can back me successfully for the nomination of my lifetime ambition to become President. My ambition is not blind to the extent I will step on the toes of the President. I just want to step into his shoes and not on his toes.”
According to Tinubu, if elected President, the country will remain united and “we will use that unity, the symbol of our party to cleanse Nigeria of unrealisable potential.”
Responding, Lawan, who assured Tinubu that senators would continue to remain united to ensure the success of the Buhari administration, however, explained that external factors were mainly responsible for the social and economic challenges the country has been facing since the APC took over power in 2019.
Also carrying his 2023 presidential campaign to senators, Osinbajo, on April 12, invited the federal lawmakers and the Caucus to celebrate Iftar at his official residence.
Iftar is the meal Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to breakfast for the day
At the meeting, the VP solicited the support of the APC Caucus in the senate in his quest to succeed his boss in 2023.
Recall that Osinbajo made an audio declaration for the presidency last Monday morning after hosting the Progressive Governors Forum on Sunday.
Now that Tinubu is vying for the presidency with his political son, the battle line is drawn and senators, especially those from the South-West, are working in opposite directions.
Presently in the Senate, Tinubu is sure of support from his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, APC, Lagos Central; Senator Olamilekan Adeola, Lagos West; Senator Adetokunbo Abiru, Lagos East; Senator Kashim Shettima, Borno Central; Senator Ajibola Bashiru, Osun Central; and Senator Adeyemi Oriolowo, Osun West.
In Ondo State, the only APC senator, Robert Ajayi Boroffice, Ondo North, may not support Tinubu because Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is said not to be in the same camp with Tinubu.
In Ogun State, the three senators there are also believed not to be pro-Tinubu against the backdrop that Senator Ibikunle Amosun, APC, Ogun Central is also said to be nursing presidential ambition and there is a political war between him and Governor Dapo Abiodun.
One other thing that may work against Tinubu concerning Ogun senators is that even though he was instrumental to the emergence of Abiodun as governor, the federal lawmakers may throw their weight behind Osinbajo as an Ijebu man from Ikenne as their own son. The other senators from Ogun besides Amosun are Olalekan Mustapha, Ogun East and Tolulope Odebiyi, Ogun West.
In Ekiti, it is not clear if Governor Kayode Fayemi, who is not on good terms with Tinubu while also nursing presidential ambition may sway the two APC senators, Opeyemi Bamidele, Ekiti Central and Olubunmi Adetumbi, Ekiti North, in favour of his ambition or to anyone he may be supporting.
In Delta, the two APC senators are Omo- Agege, Delta Central and Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Delta North. Omo- Agege may be in the same camp with Ndume in this case while Nwaoboshi may also swing to the same direction and that is towards Amaechi.
In Kano State, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is a strong supporter of Tinubu, but Senators Ibrahim Shekarau, Kano Central and Jubrin Barau, Kano North are presently engaged in a political fight with the governor and, with this, they may not go the same way with Ganduje, but Senator Kabiru Gaya, Kano South may support Tinubu.
In Katsina State, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, former Senator Abu Ibrahim and Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, among others, are strong forces and may influence senators from the state: Senators Baba Kaita, Katsina North; Bello Mandiya, Katsina South and Barkiya Abdullahi, Katsina Central.
The senators will be divided because the Emir of Katsina is said to have endorsed Amaechi. Abu Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Tinubu.
Kogi Senators Smart Adeyemi, Kogi West; Yakubu Oseni, Kogi Central and Jibrin Oseni, Kogi East are sharply divided between Tinubu, Osinbajo and Amaechi because of the presidential ambition of Governor Yahaya Bello, just as governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State determines where the two APC Senators Suleiman Kwari, Kaduna North and Uba Sani, Kaduna Central will be.