Senators elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress on Saturday announced that Senator Ahmed Lawan representing Yobe central has been chosen as the “consensus candidate” of the party for the position of senate president of the 8th National Assembly,
However, a leading aspirant for the position, Senator Bukola Saraki dismissed the announcement, arguing that the position of the senate president has been zoned to the north central geo-political zone.
Senator Barnabas Gemade, a serving senator who announced the selection of Lawan also said George Akume (Benue) is the “consensus candidate” for deputy senate president.
Gemade made the announcement at the two-day retreat for APC senators-elect in Abuja on Saturday in am address was titled: “Resolution of APC senators and senators-elect after a two-day retreat.”
“We, the Senate Unity Forum comprising senators-elect from various zones of Nigeria, have met, held extensive discussions and resolved to support senator Ahmed Lawan as senate president and senator George Akume as deputy senate president of the 8th senate,” Gemade said.
“Kindly take this to be our collective decision in the best interest of our party, APC, and our dear nation, Nigeria.”
Saraki, a former goveenor of Kwara state however swiftly denied that a consensus candidate has been picked by the party through his twitter @bukolasaraki
“The rumour going around about a consensus candidate for the position of Senate President and Deputy Senate President is false”, the former governor tweeted.
This was followed by a press conference by his supporters, led by Senator Dino Melaye less than an hour later.
Melaye claimed that the national working committee (NWC) of the party has zoned the senate presidency to the north-central where Saraki comes from while Lawan is from Yobe in the north-east.
“Senators of the like mind are here today at the retreat organized by our dear Party All Progressives Congress, which is meant to equip and empower Senators-Elect of the 8th Assembly to prepare them toward the challenges ahead. We commend the leadership of our party for this timely and well-focused exercise.
“The issue of National Assembly leadership is about integrity, competence, discipline and leadership skills and not about fixing of candidates just for mere horse-trading. Our stand is about electing a senator who eventually becomes the chairman of National Assembly and relates with the executive on behalf of Nigerians, fellow Senators and the National Assembly as an institution.
“Furthermore leadership of National Assembly, is about the Senator that has the wherewithal to stabilize the legislative institution, working with the executive and judicial arm of government to be effective and perform to their optimal capacity.
“In addition, we are aware of the fact that ALL Senators from the North Central zone have taken a firm position that they are only interested in the office of the Senate President which has been earlier zoned by the National Working Committee of our party and we are also aware that North Central Senators have resolved to abide by the resolution of the zone on a single candidate and anything short of this is an attempt to jeopardize the collective interest of the zone.
“Of the 59 Senators of the APC, 35 of us present here today hereby reaffirm our collective commitment and resolution to ensure that the candidature of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as the Senate President of 8th Assembly.
“We have also resolved that the office of the Deputy Senate President be zoned to the North East,” Melaye said.
If the party cannot reach a consensus, all the aspirants will contest for the position of Senate President upon the inauguration of the senate in the first week of June.
A candidate for the position needs a minimum of 55 votes to win – a simple majority of 109 senators.
APC has 63 senators while PDP has 46.
However, national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu and other party chieftains have said zoning will not be used in the choice of the leadership of the National Assembly.
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