As the battle for the leadership of the Senate intensifies ahead of the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly in June, the camps of the senators-elect seeking to take over the leadership of the Red Chamber have shifted their attention to opposition members,Akelicious can report.
Already, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has settled for one of the aspirants and current Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe) as its choice for the Senate top job. However, Senator Ali Ndume (APC,Borno), himself a former Senate leader, has vowed to go against his party and contest the position. Another senator said to be eyeing the position is Danjuma Goje who is said to be working from behind the scenes to achieve his ambition.
Akelicious gathered that with the party, APC, already in favour of Senator Lawan, the contenders are looking outside for support.
Among the camps, it was gathered that Team Lawan, Team Ndume and Team Goje are actively wooing senators-elect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and some state governors are now being contacted to lobby their home senators to support specific candidates.
Akelicious reports that while the governing APC has majority in the 9th Assembly with 65 senators-elect, the PDP has about 41 in its fold, while Young Peoples Party has only Ifeanyi Uba for the moment, as the first-time senator-elect is perceived to be flirting with the party in power.
Of the 65 APC senators-elect, the South West have 14, South East, 2, North-West, 20, South-South, 3, North-East, 14 and North-Central,12.
Since the election for the leadership of the National Assembly would be conducted at the chambers, it was gathered that almost all the camps seeking to take over the leadership positions have now focused their attention on the opposition PDP.
Akelicious gathered that most of the camps are banking on the fact that if they can get block votes from the main opposition political party, it would be much easier to win the in-house contest.
APC has zoned the office of the Senate President to the North East while the office of the deputy Senate president was also zoned to the South-South with Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), fully in the race.
While the alignments and realignments is taking shape, a strategist for the APC in the 2019 general elections, who is also knowledgeable about National Assembly politics, has faulted the party chairman, Adams Oshiohmole, for exposing the party’s game plan much earlier.
The strategist, who prefers to remain anonymous, said there are different camps now realigning which could be detrimental to the party’s wish to take control of the leadership of the party.
“You know, for now things are not going smoothly. A lot of snags created by the party could be detrimental,” the strategist said, adding that what happened in 2015 could repeat itself in 2019.
Speaking to Akelicious, a chieftain of the APC and former minister of sport, Bala Ka’oje, said he had advised the party to zone the principal offices as early as possible but the party leadership ignored the advice.
“I advised that we should zone National Assembly positions as quickly as possible. If you zone positions, everyone knows what is coming to him. If you zoned the office of the Senate president to the North-eastern states for example, there is nothing wrong in nominating three people and forwarding their names to the zone for them to select one person,” Ka’oje said, adding that presenting one candidate in a zone with 14 senators-elect could be detrimental.
“All we heard was that the chairman of the party nominated the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House,” Ka’oje said.
According to him, when it comes to National Assembly politics, things are not done like that.
“When we were in the other party, we contributed money to assist contestants. Did he do that? Here he is telling them they most obey him. Obedience is reciprocal. You can’t appoint people to lead the Senate and the House. It’s a problem in the APC and that problem will continue to happen because the party is not doing the right thing.
“Oshiohmole is only interested on his interest. See what we faced in Rivers, Zamfara, Cross River and the rest of the states? He keeps making too many errors that are bad for the party,” Ka’oje added.
He remarked that the party’s problems are due to lack of consultation.
“The party chairman is claiming he knows everything. No one wants to consult people like us. Yes, we won election but it was a fierce contest. The PDP took some states belonging to us. I’ve been to the APC chairman’s house more than five times. I left my card but he never looked for me. They don’t care about the advice we offer even in the newspaper and that could be detrimental in the National Assembly elections,” Ka’oje added.
Weighing in on the Senate leadership race, the pioneer APC national vice chairman in charge of North East, Dr Umar Duhu, said that both Ndume and Lawan are from the same bloc of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and that both are qualified to occupy the seat of the chairman of the National Assembly.
Duhu, who expressed displeasure at the way the party leadership is treating some of its members, said there is no way the party can control its members when it did not play a major part in ensuring their election.
“You do not also expect that an elected senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who paid through his nose to be candidate of the party and spent heavily to get elected, could easily obey a party whose leadership talks from both sides of their mouths. I do not see any directive handed over to the elected legislators working; rather, the party must go begging and apologising to Nigerians for most of their lapses to get the party working again.
“Unless the APC, as a party, purges itself of disloyal and self seeking members that shamelessly worked against the interest of APC at all levels during the 2019 general election, no right thinking Nigerian will take the directives of the leadership seriously. I will not also be surprised when a repeat of the 8th assembly comes to the fore,” Duhu added.
Speaking on the contestants suitability for the job, he said: “Both Senators Ahmed Lawan and Ali Ndume are of the same Constituency, the defunct ANPP, while Sen Danjuma Goje is from a different bloc. In terms of qualifications, all of them are qualified to take the 9th Senate to the next level.”