As contenders for the Senate presidency and other key positions in the 10th National Assembly intensify their bid to lobby senators-elect and party stakeholders, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is making frantic efforts to douse tension.
We gathered that the leadership of the governing party has assured the lawmakers angling to become principal officers in the federal legislature of fairness as the party concludes arrangement to zone the positions.
This is just as the governing party is seeking an audience with the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over the zoning arrangement.
Findings by this paper showed that lobbying for the presiding offices has begun in earnest, with the APC, Senators-elect and members-elect on the platform of the party working to prevent a repeat of the 2015 experience where Senator Bukola Saraki was elected Senate president and Hon Yakubu Dogara emerged Speaker of the House against the wishes and directive of the ruling party.
Though the APC, which will certainly enjoy the majority status in both chambers of the 10th National Assembly is yet to come out with any zoning or power sharing formula for the next government under Tinubu, some of its lawmakers-elect are already involved in behind-the-scene consultations in order to clinch the top positions of the National Assembly on June 13.
Those who have shown interest in being president of the 10th Senate include Senator-elect Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), Senator-elect Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North-West), Senator-elect Ali Ndume (Borno South), and Senator-elect Jibrin Barau (Kano North).
While Kalu, Ndume and Barau are current members of the 9th Senate, Akpabio who was a member of the 8th Senate, has successfully staged a comeback to the Red Chamber.
We also learnt that the current Senate president, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North) and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, may be shut out of the Senate presidency and Speakership of the 10th Assembly.
Lawan, it was gathered, might want to retain his position if supported by a majority of Senators, but with the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima, coming from the same North East, his chances are slim.
In the House of Representatives, the current Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, a protege of Tinubu, might also want to try his luck to retain his position in the next Assembly, hoping that he would ride on the influence of Tinubu to do so when the time comes.
Even if that happens, Gbajabiamila will have formidable opponents to contend with in Hon Alhassan Ado Doguwa from Kano State and Hon Aliyu Betara from Borno State, both current members of the House and veteran lawmakers.
Although there are strong indications that the party may zone the Senate president position to the South East, zoning of the speakership is the major bone of contention, a source close to the party hierarchy told our correspondent.
The source who did want his name in print said, “There is tension already and the party is determined to reduce it by doing its best to zone its offices beginning with the Senate presidency to the South East. Arrangements have been concluded to meet with our president-elect, Bola Tinubu, on this matter.
“Since 2015 the distribution of leadership positions by the APC has not been balanced and we are committed to correcting it with the 10th Assembly. So far we are the majority with 57 senatorial seats.
“During our party primaries the South East didn’t get the support of the party to produce the flag bearer. This didn’t go down well with them. Now this is another opportunity to prove to Nigerians that we are a party for all.
“Although the decision lies with the leadership of our party and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, but the NWC are on the same page with regards to this matter and our president elect is a listener who loves to carry every one along regardless of tribe or religion and he understands how marginalised the South East have been in the scheme of things. By the time we meet him I’m sure he will see reasons to support our cause.”
Also, the senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Mohammed Sani Musa, has signified interest to contest for the position of the Senate president in the 10 Assembly.
A close associate of the Senator who disclosed this said Sani Musa who is the chairman, Committee on Senate Services, would declare his ambition if the APC zones the position to the North Central geopolitical zone.
The source also disclosed that the national chairman of the party, Senator Adamu Abdullahi, would not mind resigning his position to pave the way for Musa’s emergence.
Musa is among the Senators that campaigned vigorously for the office of the national chairman of the APC but was strapped down for Abdullahi Adamu.
“Senator Musa will run for the office of the Senate President. We hope that the All Progressives Congress would zone the office to the North Central zone, ” the associate said.
Asked if it was possible for the Senator to emerge as the Senate resident when the national chairman of the party is also from the North Central zone, the source said Adamu was ready to resign his appointment to make it possible.
He said, “Senator Abdullahi Adamu is interested in the emergence of Sani Musa as the next Senate president and he would not mind resigning his appointment to make that happen.”
When reminded that Musa’s ambition would possibly clash with that of the incumbent Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, being his friend, the source said, “Lawan has dropped his ambition to contest.”
He said, “As we speak, Senator Lawan is no longer going to contest the office of the Senate President in the 10th National Assembly. That I can assure you.”
On what would happen if the party fails to zone the office to the North Central zone, the source said, “Senator Musa would contest for the position of the deputy Senate president.
“He is already talking to his colleagues and close associates about his ambition,” the source added.
Public Holiday Forces Lawmakers’ Inauguration Date To June 13
Meanwhile, barring any unforeseen circumstance, the 10th National Assembly will be inaugurated on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, two days after the lifespan of the current 9th National Assembly would have expired on Sunday, June 11.
Recall that the current National Assembly was inaugurated on June 11, 2019.
Its lifespan will terminate on June 11, 2023, which is Sunday, a non-working day, while the next day June 12 is a public holiday to mark Democracy Day.
Report had it that the would-be members of the 10th National Assembly – Senators-elect and Members-elect – would receive their Certificates of Return on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 7 and 8 respectively.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had on Saturday during a meeting with the Commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) ahead of the March 11 governorship/state assembly elections, noted that in terms of party representation, the next 10th National Assembly is the most diverse since 1999.
So far, he said in the Senate, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) won 57 seats while the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) garnered 29 seats.
Others include All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – 1; Labour Party (LP) – 6; New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) – 2; Social Democratic Party (SDP) – 2, and Young Progressive Party (YPP) – 1.
In the House of Representatives, APC won 162 seats; PDP – 102; APGA – 4; LP – 34; NNPP – 18; SDP 2; YPP – 1, and African Democratic Congress (ADC) – 2.
Given the above configuration, the elections of the presiding officers in both chambers of the 10th National Assembly promise to be interesting.
Ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, 2023, some lawmakers-elect have begun lobbying for the presidency of the Senate and Speakership of the House of Representatives.
Apart from the Senate presidency and House Speakership, other positions that will be filled include that of the deputy Senate president and deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.