After much silence, President Buhari finally reveals who he wants as Senate President (9JA NEWS)
The power play on who becomes the Senate President as already started, in preparation for the inaugurations of members of the 9th Senate June this year.
Already, at least four senators who will be returning are said to have showed interest in leading the Senate, succeeding Senate President, Bukola Saraki who lost his re-election bid.
In the race are Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, his immediate predecessor, Ali Ndume, and former governors of Gombe and Nasarawa state respectively, Danjuma Goje and Abdullahi Adamu.
All have already started consulting colleagues and party leaders in order to ensue they get the nod.
However, the tides seems to be flowing in the direction of Lawan, who got what looked like an endorsement from President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the APC Monday morning.
At the meeting of President Buhari and the party leadership with senators and newly elected ones at the villa on Monday, APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole endorsed Lawan, a move which was indirectly supported by the president himself.
Many who are familiar with the situation are even saying Oshiomhole was actually speaking the president’s mind. According to them, he only left it for the chairman to say so it will look more like a party decision.
A senator-elect who was at the meeting was quoted by The Nation as saying, “Sitting beside the President, Oshiomhole spoke passionately and made it clear that all ranking senators-elect are eminently qualified to be the President of the Senate and other principal officers. He eulogised all ranking senators.
“He had some difficulty in going straight to the point but he explained why it was necessary for the party to be united and have a solid leadership in the National Assembly.
“After some rigmarole, the National Chairman said the National Working Committee had consulted with the governors elected on the platform of the party and APC leaders and reached a conclusion that Dr. Ahmad Lawan should migrate from being a Senate Leader to the President of the Senate. At the end of the day, we are presenting Lawan for consideration.
“Oshiomhole assured that the party will ensure a win-win situation for all, especially those aspiring for Senate presidency.”
Another Senator-elect said: “Only the President and Oshiomhole spoke at the session in the Villa; we were not allowed any input. Lawan is mandated to reconcile with everybody and allow ranking senators to choose the committees they like.
“Not only that the President in his remarks plainly said: ‘I thank the National Chairman of our party for making a difficult job for me much easier. I hope this will go as expected.’ Nobody needed any other signal from the President.”
Lawan was said to have been chosen after many things had been put into consideration.
Such things include, his legislative experience, loyalty and qualifications.
What have might however sealed the deal for Lawan with President Buhari is believed to be his prudence and accountability.
“Security reports on Lawan’s lifestyle revealed a commitment to accountability. He does not indulge in wasteful spending. He fits into the austere focus of Buhari,” The Nation quoted a source.
The choice of Lawan has however not gone down well with other contenders.
While Goje and Adamu were said to be calm about the choice, Ndume did not hide his feelings, talking of how he was betrayed by the president.
Speaking with newsmen after the meeting, Ndume called the endorsement of Lawan by Oshiomhole as unconstitutional against the spirit of fair play.
“First of all, let me say that the decision by the party to settle for an individual instead of zoning the position to a particular geopolitical zone and also consulting or allowing the senators from that zone to decide who among them they prefer as Senate President, is a surprise.
“We were surprised on Monday when national chairman of our party told us a decision had been taken to adopt Ahmad Lawan as candidate from the North-east for the position of the President of the Senate.
“The reason why I am shocked and I am sure that is the feeling of my colleagues, is that the constitutional provision for the emergence of the leadership of the Senate is clearly spelt out.
“Section 51 (a) of the Constitution says that “there shall be a Senate President and Deputy Senate President who shall be elected by members of the House.
“Section 1 of the Constitution clearly states that “this Constitution is binding on all Nigerians and government agencies.
“It went further to say that any other law that contravenes the provision of the Constitution is null and void.”
The brewing crisis over the endorsement of Lawan seems to be following the same pattern that culminated in the election of Saraki as Senate President in 2015.
That time, the party had also incidentally endorsed Lawan for the Senate President seat. This did not however go down well with Saraki who was also eyeing the seat.
Saraki was able to break the ranks of the APC Senators, and with the support of the PDP bloc in the Senate clinched the seat.