June 8, 2023

10th National Assembly: Uneasy calm as Tinubu fails to unveil Akpabio, Abass


***35 APC Senators loyal to Yari, Kalu  absent at meeting 

***Senate President, House Speaker elections may hold simultaneously

***Retired Northern Generals back Yari 

***As President Tinubu meets with Senators – elect today

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA- AHEAD of the inauguration of the National Assembly  June 13, strong Indications emerged yesterday that uneasy calm envelopes the entire process as President Bola Tinubu failed to unveil former Akwa Ibom Governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio and  Tajudeen Abass as the preferred candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC for the positions of the President of the Senate and Speaker, House of Representatives.

A source told Vanguard yesterday that at a meeting called by President Tinubu between, Senators- elect and members of the House of Representatives at the Presidential villa where the President ought to have announced that Akpabio and Abass are the candidates of the party, he did not do that throughout the few minutes he spoke, thereby causing some areas of concerns among party members and Stakeholders of the party.

According to the source, the National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu who  would have used the opportunity to mention the names of Akpabio and Abass did not do that.

The APC National Chairman who was said to have spoken  for less than two minutes, thanked the law makers- elect  for coming, even as he  announced that the meeting was at the instance of the President. He  asked them to listen to him please. 

The source said that the Speaker, House of Representatives and the new Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila was neither here nor there, just as the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan was same.

The expectations of law makers that  that President Tinubu would ice the cake was even  more misplaced

The source said,; “This whole thing has become very confusing to most of us honestly. All the noise about Tinubu’s endorsement of Abbas and Akpabio we thought was going to be capped this evening when the president met us for the first time since his swearing in. 

“You can imagine that even that of Representatives  speaker that we thought is almost settled for Abbass is still cloudy. We had the feeling that the G-6 has been been broken, especially after the president met with the group. Wht stopped him from announcing that to the Reps, even if ours in the senate looks more dicey?

“Mind you, most of us are just following some candidates, they were waiting for the President to say it by himself, but now that he is evasive, it is not clear to us at all. 

“We were just APC and the meeting is in-house, a family one, and that is the loat appropriate place to say, guys, this is my thinking but nothing happened in that regard means a lot espexially when we observed rhat only about 23 of us were there as APC senators. Kalu, Yari and over 30 did not turn to attend the meeting. I know there is still time to salvage the situation.

“What surprised some of us is that prior to the meeting with us, some of us knew that the Presidency had put in place a machinerty to avert the emergence of two Northerners as Presiding officera of both Chambers.

“And to achieve this, I think they are trying to ensure that the two elections take place at the same time so that even if Yari wins, Abbass will not be shut out at the green chamber. But there is a lot to be done if we want to be sincere.

“We kmow of course, that if Yari eventually wins, the Gbajabiamila group is planning to quickly nominate Professor Julius Ihonvbere as possible speaker so that South South will not lose out because from the look of things, the Yari and Kalu alliance is heavily supported by majority of retired northern generals 

On what Tinubu said at the meeting, the source said that  Tinubu told the lawmakers thus, ” let’s think Nigeria, think about the Nigeroan project which is the larger project because it’s by the Grace of God that brought us all together here.

“We are the majority party and we should not allow our internal bickering  to erode out chances. Give whatever is needful as concessions to the opposition and hold on to the principal or presiding offices. We have only one seat for Senate President, one seat for speaker. Only one person can be on each. The elephant is big enough, it now depends on iow you slice it. Make consensus amongst yourselves and build national cohesion, national consensus.”

Recall that the All Progressives Congress, APC had  announced the endorsement of Senator Godswill Akpabio and three others for the topmost positions in the National Assembly. Senator Akpabio from South-South was endorsed for Senate President, Senator Jubrin Barau from North-west for Deputy Senate President, Honourable Tajudeen Abass, North-west for Speaker, House of Representatives and  Hon. Kanu, South-East for Deputy Speaker.

This has not gone  down well with some members of the party and especially those aspiring for the position of Presiding offices in both the Senate and the House of Representatives as have been protests, condemnations and strong criticisms across the country.

The APC’s zoning was  higly criticized as to  why a  party would allot  two of the six presiding offices in the National Assembly to a zone and leaving the North Central without any position, even as  many others criticized the zoning of Deputy Speaker.

The Senate has however  shifted  its  valedictory session to Saturday.

The President of the Senate, Senator  Ahmad Lawan who  announced this yesterday said that the Senate has rescheduled its valedictory session to Saturday.

The  President of the Senate who noted  that the shift in the date was due to a scheduled meeting of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with the lawmakers of the incoming 10th National Assembly today, said, “By the grace of God, we will still hold plenary tomorrow(Thursday) and then our valedictory session will be on Saturday.

“It is because tomorrow, Mr President, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be meeting with the Senators-elect and members-elect at 2pm.

“And we believe that a session as significant and as important and as historical and memorable as valedictory session of the Senate requires a whole day. Not one, two, three hours. And therefore we push it to Saturday,” Lawan said.

The Ninth Senate officially ends its four-year tenure on 11th June, 2023.

Lawan hinted that the Tenth Senate would be inaugurated on Tuesday, 13th June, 2023.