•Support for Yari, Izunaso’s camp rising
By Henry Umoru
STRONG Indications have emerged that the aspiration of former Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for the Senate presidency is shaking as supporters are said to have reduced tremendously.
It was gathered yesterday that support for the former governor of Akwa Ibom State for the Senate presidency of the 10th National Assembly may have finally hit the rocks because more senators reportedly dumped his camp for Senators Abdul’aziz Yari and Osita Izunaso-led Senate Democratic Caucus, SDC.
Recall that the All Progressives Congress, APC, had announced the endorsement of Akpabio and three others for the topmost positions in the National Assembly.
While Senator Akpabio from South-South was endorsed for Senate presidency, Senator Jubrin Barau from North-West was chosen as Deputy Senate President, just as Tajudeen Abass, North-West was picked as speaker of the House of Representatives and Kanu, South-East, deputy speaker.
Their choice by the party did not, however, go down well with some members of the party, especially those aspiring for the position of presiding offices in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Consequently, protests, condemnation and strong criticisms across the country trailed the development.
It was also gathered that as of yesterday afternoon, Senator Akpabio was left with less than 30 senators, while the Yari/Izunaso-led camp swelled to over 50 between Thursday and yesterday morning.
From the statistics taken at the last outing of the two camps held simultaneously at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and the Destination by Gidanka respectively, 21 senators-elect attended the Stability group of Akpabio, while 57 physically attended the Yari-led group meeting, with apologies from 16 other senators-elect who could not attend in person.
It was also gathered yesterday morning that at least four of the senators-elect that attended Akpabio meeting have shifted camp and alliance to the SDC camp of Yari and Izunaso. The four senators are from South-South and South-West.
With this, the Yari/Izunaso-led group, made up of senators-elect from the six geo-political zones of the country, now has over 60 senators-elect in their camp, a clear majority in the 109-member Senate.
Even with the 57 senators-elect that physically attended the meeting at Senator Izunaso-owned Destination Hotel office, the group has already secured more than the 55 votes required to produce the Senate president.
In what is now seen as a calculated move by the powers behind the two camps to determine the strongest force in the emerging Senate, the simultaneous meetings of the two camps have now confirmed the actual strength of the competing tendencies.
It appears that Senator Akpabio may be losing out for Senator Abdul’aziz Yari or the other leading aspirant in his team, Senator Osita Izunaso.
The abysmal attendance of senators-elect at the Akpabio-led camp meeting inTranscorp Hilton was said to have embarrassed the highly respected former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, who was invited there as an observer.
Chief Osoba was said to have left the meeting highly disappointed.