Epic battle for 9th Senate leadership
As the bell tolls for the inauguration of the 9th Senate there are ominous signs of a political logjam that might plunge the nation into the abyss of disunity. writes Benedict Iorgyer.
Recently, the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole in the presence of President Buhari, announced that, the party has endorsed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as candidates of his party for Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
But Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, one of the contenders for the seat, has vowed not to respect the party’s position. Ndume described the endorsement as unconstitutional and against the spirit of fair play. Aside from Ndume, 15 other Senators in the ruling party are not comfortable with the development.
Ndume has argued that the endorsement ran contrary to the provisions of section 50 (1A) of the 1999 constitution which stipulates that: “There shall be a President and Deputy President of the Senate who shall be elected by the members of that house from among themselves.” He said.
Ndume is insisting that the provisions of the constitution didn’t give room for the president and the party leader to force on elected Senators or House members, their presiding officers, noting further that the party had not still learnt any lessons from the past.
“Oshiomhole, in making the announcement or endorsement, did not even allow myself or Senators Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) and Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), widely known to be in the race for the position to say anything.
“More disturbing was the fact that even Senator Ahmed Lawan endorsed for the position, was not allowed to make any comment in form of acceptance speech or soliciting for support from other interested senators” He stated.
Ndume has advised that the position be zoned by the party leadership and contenders allowed to sort it out themselves, adding that it was only the elected lawmakers that had the right to choose their presiding officers and not the party’s national chairman.
Meanwhile, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has taken his campaign to APC governors. He is leaving no stone unturned in consulting the major stakeholders of the party in order to achieve his ambition.
Investigation revealed that one of the consultative meetings, took place at a Guest House in Aso Drive, was hosted by the governor of Yobe, Lawan’s state to solicit support for Lawan’s Senate Presidential ambition. The meeting was attended by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state, who is also a Senator Elect, Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Mohammed Bindow of Adamawa State. A close source to the meeting said that Lawan used the forum to solicit support from APC governors and the APC Senators-Elect in the 22 states controlled by the party for his ambition ahead of the inauguration of the 9th Senate in June.
Danjuma Goje, also a keen contestant for the Senate presidency is working with Ndume. The duo, worldview checks revealed, have agreed to work together in one camp so as to surmount what they described as the tyrannical tendency of their party, APC.
Not long ago, a group of youths from North-East, led by Mr. Bello Ambo from Bauchi State stormed the National Assembly, saying the endorsement of Lawan by neither the national leadership of APC nor the expression of interest by Ndume, should not deter Goje from entering the race. They urged him to declare publicly for the position of Senate President without any further delay.
According to the leader of the group, as far as public service experience is concerned, Goje stands far above Lawan and Ndume, having controlled a whole state for eight years between 2003 and 2011 and has vast parliamentary experience, having served in the senate since he left the gubernatorial position.
When reminded that the ruling party has taken a final decision on who should occupy the position with the endorsement of Lawan last week, Ambo said senators-elect are matured people who can decide who their leader should be and should be allowed to do so.
“For us, the Goje Support Groups from the North-east for the presidency of the 9th Senate (GSGNE), Senator Danjuma Goje is the right man for the job…, a party man to the core who will fit perfectly into the next level agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari”, Ambo strongly affirmed.
Prior to the endorsement of Senator Lawal, it is gathered that APC caucus has penciled down the names of Senator Ahmad Lawan; Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Ali Ndume for the 9th Senate Presidency. With this branding, Senator Abdullahi Adamu is also in the race, even as the party narrowed down its choice to Lawal. The fear is that the three other senators will work together with the PDP members and truncate their party’s choice of senate’s presidency. With the current figures 66 APC Senators and 55 PDP Senators, the election of the Senate presidency is not the exclusive preserve of the ruling party.
Meanwhile, the PDP Senate caucus has cautioned its counterparts in the APC to stop dragging the name of Saraki, into the schemes and plots by senators-elect of the ruling party over the leadership of the 9th Senate. The PDP Senate caucus, in a statement by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, and Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Dino Melaye, stated that it had observed closely as the contenders for the various leadership posts in the APC sponsor various publications in the media to make it appear that Saraki was seeking to play a role in who occupied the various posts in the next Senate.
The PDP, which said that it would not sit-down and look as the Senate new leaders emerged, warns that “Nobody from outside the Senate has such powers. It is also the right of every senator to aspire to that position as stated by the constitution.”
As the contending sides seems to be oiling their missiles ahead of the battle day, there are ominous signs of a political logjam at the fast approaching inauguration of the 9th Senate WV