35 senators-elect write APC, back Lawan
AS the struggle for the leadership position in the inew Senate continues, a group of senators-elect on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have formally informed the leadership of the party on their stand on the issue.
The group, under the aegis of Unity Forum and armed with a five-point resolution signed by 35 out of 40 Senators-elect, informed the leadership of their support for the Lawan-Akume Senate Presidency ticket.
The party has however assured them that the extant Standing Order of the chamber would be adhered to in its final decision.
The Senate presidency battle in the APC is between Senator Bukola Saraki and Senators Ahmed Lawal.
While Saraki’s backers argue that he is the most qualified in terms of experience, popularity and representation, the other camp believes the Lawan/George Akume ticket is better in terms of maturity and experience. The latter also claim that Lawan and Akume are not as ambitious as Saraki.
It was learnt that the resolution was addressed to the APC’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and presented to him in Abuja in the presence of some of the party’s national leaders.
The presentation, which was said to have been signed by Senators Barnabas Gemade, Abu Ibrahim, Olusola Adeyeye, Abdullahi Adamu and Bukar Abba Ibrahim with the signatures of their members attached premised their resolution on five grounds.
One, that Lawan and Akume shall be the highest and second highest ranking APC senators in the 8th Assembly.
This is so as Lawan has spent 16 years in the chambers; eight years in the House of Representatives and another eight years in the Senate. Akume has spent eight years in the Senate.
Thus, Lawan is the most qualified to be the Senate President while Akume is the most qualified to be the Deputy Senate President of the 8th Assembly in accordance with Rule 3 Order (2) of the Extant Senate Standing Orders, which states as follows;
•nomination of Senators to serve as Presiding Officers and appointments of Principal Officers and other Officers of the Senate or on any Parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of Senators. In determining ranking, the following Oder shall apply-
(i) Senators retiring based on number of times re-elected;
(ii) Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives; and
(iii) Senators elected as Senators for the first time.
The group contended that there were three identified voting blocs that ensured the victory of the APC in the 2015 elections. They are the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba bloc and Northern minorities. Hausa-Fulani bloc is represented by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Yoruba by the Vice President. It has therefore become appropriate and equitable that the Northern minorities’ bloc be given the positions of the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President to be occupied by Lawan and Akume.”
They resolved that: “Ahmad Lawan as Senate President will give our compatriots in the North-East zone a sense of full integration into the heterogenous Nigerian polity.
“That Lawan and Akume maintained clean records throughout their stint in the Public Service. This attribute will put them on high moral pedestal to lead the 8th Senate to bring about a corrupt- free Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, APC yesterday offered an insight as to why it had to shift it’s proposed parley between the leadership of the party with members of the National Assembly to tomorrow.
APC’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that the party had to shift the parley to enable both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate attend their respective valedictory sessions yesterday.
Mohammed faulted notions held in certain quarters that the party was forced to shift the parley due to protestations from a section of the lawmakers who felt that the leadership of the party wanted to use the forum to impose candidates aspiring for various leadership positions in the national Assembly on them.
According to him: “It couldn’t have been true. Don’t mind those who peddle such stories. The reason was that at the time we fixed the meeting with the lawmakers, it didn’t occur to us that there was going to be a valedictory session in the national Assembly. So it is only fair to allow them to attend the session and then hold our interactive session with them on Saturday.”
The Guardian was informed by security personnel at the international conference centre as at 11 am yesterday that the meeting of the National Assembly members had been shifted for inexplicable reasons.
Hours later, there were rumours that the meeting was shifted after a group of aggrieved senators staged a peaceful protest kicking against the planned meeting.
It was also said that members of the House of Representatives who felt that the meeting was aimed at railroading them into the endorsement of candidates preferred by the leadership of the party also backed out of it.
Up until yesterday, both Messrs Femi Gbajabiamila and Yakubu Dogara who are angling for the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives have remained keen to take the race for the coveted seat to.