*Lawan favoured as PDP forced Buhari, APC to reconsider stance on Senate President,
Nigeria’s new ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has jettisoned its hands off approach to the issues of the leadership of the National Assembly following information that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP had finalized plans to draw the carpet under its feet when the legislative body resume for a new session in a few days.
In recognition of this threat, APC leaders on Tuesday announced that it will hold a meeting with lawmakers elect on the party’s platform in Abuja next tomorrow.
In a statement in Abuja on Tuesday by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party explained that the crucial meeting with all its senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect on Thursday, June 4 at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
“The party will meet with its senators-elect at 10 a.m. while the meeting with its elected members of the House of Representatives is scheduled for 2 p.m. on the same day at the same venue,” the party said while urging all the elected APC federal lawmakers to be punctual for the meetings.
The meeting is part of moves to resolve the rift caused by the tussle over leadership of the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly among lawmakers elected on the platform of the party.
Though with 59 Senators to PDP’s 49, the APC has the comfortable majority to get one of its own elected for the position of the Senate President, the inability of two leading contenders for the position – Senators Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) and Ahmad Lawan ( Yobe North) to reach a consensus has become a source of headache for the leadership of the ruling party.
APC Senators are divided in their support for the two candidates.
A group canvassing support for Saraki Senate’s presidency ambition which tagged itself the Like Minds Senators had recently claimed that 34 APC Senators-elect had endorsed the former Kwara State Governors as the consensus candidate for the postion.
But Unity Forum, another group in support Lawan also recently claimed that 40 APC elect Senators had pledged support for the Yobe State Senator’s ambition.
The division among the APC Senators on which among their ranks to support for the position of Senate presidency has buoyed the confidence of PDP on the possibility of pulling the rugs off the feet of the ruling party.
With 49 Senators in its ranks, the leadership of the former ruling party, reports indicated, now believe that it can produce the Senate President if it can get lawmakers elected on PDP platform to give a block vote to one of its own while the two APC contenders shared the 59 APC votes among themselves.
PM NEWS gathered that the PDP lawmakers are further encouraged by the fact that the Constitution did not stipulate that the Senate President should emerge from the ranks of the party with the majority in the chamber.
The beneficiaries of the PDP plot, will be the incumbent Senate President, David Mark and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu who ordinarily should vacate their position following the loss of majority control of National Assembly by their party in the 2015 elections.
Mark had at a retreat for lawmakers elected on its platform held in Port Harcourt last weekend asked Senators elected on the platform of PDP to ensure that they vote as a block during the election for selection of the leadership of the National Assembly.
“We must subject our individual interest to our group interest. In the election of principal officers of National Assembly, we must vote in one accord. We must know that united we stand, divided we fall,” the outgoing Senate President told PDP lawmakers at the meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, there are indications that the leadership of APC may have convinced President Muhammadu Buhari to drop his non-partisan attitude to the issue of the leadership of National Assembly, pointing out the dangers of such stance to him.
The President had repeatedly said he is ready to work with any of the contenders that is elected as Senate President. But he may have been convinced of the dangers of such stance with the plot by the PDP to gain the leadership of the National Assembly through the back door, it was gathered.
Reports also indicated that the National Working Committee of APC had at a meeting with the President on Tuesday night drew out a list of factors that will influenced the choice of who get the support of the party for the position of the Senate President.
Among others, it was agreed at the meeting that the Senate President must come from the geopolitical zone which gave the APC the second highest number of votes, after the North-West in the Presidential election.
Also, the party leaders were also said to have reiterated that to earn the party support, a contender must not be under any investigation for corrupt practices and must also be one of the most senior ranking Senators. “This criteria definitely favoured Lawan and it is not clear how the Saraki camp will react to it,” a source told PM NEWS this morning.
A similar effort by the party at a retreat for the lawmakers two weeks ago ended in chaos as the contenders refused to step down for each other.
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