Senate presidency: Lawan defies Oshiomhole, meets PDP govs, senators

The Senate Majority Leader and  All Progressives Congress candidate for the Senate presidency  in the 9th National Assembly, Ahmed Lawan, has reached out to some Peoples Democratic Party governors  to brighten his chances of winning the number three position.

This is contrary to the ruling party’s earlier position that it would not need the PDP for its candidate to emerge winner in the race.

Lawan’s adoption by the ruling party’s National Working Committee has divided the  party,  with Senators Ali Ndume (Borno) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe) insisting on  contesting  the post despite the APC’s position.

The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, had shortly after the  NWC’s  adoption of Lawan, said the ruling party did not need the PDP lawmakers’ votes to clinch leadership seats in the National Assembly.

He cautioned against any power sharing deal with the opposition party.

The APC said all  committees in the Senate would be chaired by the APC senators.

But Lawan met with  three PDP governors during the week to  seek  their support.

Saturday PUNCH learnt  that  he  met separately with Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and  Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as well as  Imo State governor-elect Emeka Ihedioha  in Abuja where he sought  their support for his  Senate presidency bid.

A source,  who was part of his  meeting with  Tambuwal  on  Wednesday,  claimed  Lawan  complained about Oshiomhole’s comments on the PDP, which he said had adversely affected his  chances of winning the support of some  returning PDP senators-elect.

It is however not clear whether the Yobe lawmaker made any commitment to a power-sharing deal with  the PDP.

“It  was  just to reassure  PDP stakeholders of his readiness to work and cooperate with them, nothing more,” the source  said.

 

Spokesman for  the Lawan-for-Senate President Campaign Organisation, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the Senate Leader met with some governors.

Abdullahi, who is also  the spokesperson for the Senate, described the meetings with the governors as “successful”.

However, he  did not give details of the meeting  or  disclose the identities of the governors that Lawan  met with.

He said, “We have spoken to many governors, including Kashim Shettima (of Borno State) when he visited  Lawan’s  campaign  secretariat .

“Many of the governors  we spoke to were pleased with our agenda for the  9th Senate  and they all pledged their support.”

Abdullahi at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday said Lawan would carry along all  PDP senators if elected.

Abdullahi had said, “l want Nigerians to look at those of us who are the actors and take note of what we say. That is the most important thing. I want to submit and assure Nigerians that by the special grace of God, if Senator Ahmed Lawan gets there, he will run an all-inclusive government because the Senate is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The notion that the PDP  would be excluded should be withdrawn forthwith. What we are planning to do is to have a Senate that will be for all senators.”

According to him,  many opposition senators pledged their support and promised to vote for  Lawan  as they are convinced he will not sideline them.

He said, “I can confirm to you that on the day of inauguration Lawan will garner more than two-thirds majority support from members-elect from both APC and PDP.

“We are talking to our colleagues; we are working on the people who will vote  on the day of inauguration.”

But spokesman  for Ihedioha, Chibuike Onyeukuwu,  denied  any meeting between his  principal  and  Lawan.

Both Tambuwal and Okowa could not be reached for comments  as of  press time. But the PDP on Friday said it had yet to  decide whether its governors would support Lawan.

The PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Diran Odeyemi,  told one of  our correspondents on Friday  that  the party still had some months of consultations before it would take a stand.

He said, “The PDP definitely has its own joker, and as a responsible party, will look at all options.

“We still have a few months of horse-trading and consultations to weigh our options and adopt the best democratic practice.

“This is politics and the party will definitely take a stand at the appropriate time.”

APC NWC yet to zone Speaker, Deputy Speaker’s positions, others

Meanwhile, the  APC NWC  has yet to meet on the zoning arrangement for the leadership positions in the National Assembly, SATURDAY PUNCH has learnt.

Shortly after announcing Lawan as the party’s choice for  the  Senate presidency, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said  the zoning arrangement for the remaining positions in the Senate and  House of Representatives would be announced later.

Investigations by one of our correspondents on Friday, however, revealed  that the NWC had yet to meet on the matter.

An NWC source  said  the party had so far slowed down its activities to allow party chiefs take deserved rest after the 2019 general elections.

He said apart from the zoning arrangement, there were  other pending issues that the NWC would address once it reconvened.

“We have not seen any notice yet but I know that the NWC will soon meet because there are other issues to be addressed, apart from the zoning arrangement,” he said.

Although, despite  the zoning arrangement has not been made public, interested zones, individuals and groups have  expressed their  interest in the available positions.

But Issa-Onilu told one of our correspondents, “There is no delay. We all know that there won’t be any change in the leadership of the National Assembly until  June, and we are still in April.

“What is important is that we have started early and we do not have to conduct our affairs in the open.

“When we finish, we will  announce. The important thing is for us to do the right thing, and we are doing it.”

Meanwhile, the North-East Forum of APC State Publicity Secretaries has supported the zoning of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the South-East.

The forum made its position known in a statement by its coordinator, Aaron Artimas, on Friday.

The forum said all political zones should be given equal participation as envisioned by the founding fathers of the country.

The statement read, “We wish to align and identify with our counterparts in the South-East in their agitation to zone the post of the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives to their region.

“The South-East APC public relations officers have already issued a  statement endorsing Nkeiruka C. Onyejeocha as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

 

“A four-time member of the House of Representatives, Onyejeocha represents many shades of national opinion, especially the much-talked-about gender issue.

“Put together, with her rich political background as a grassroots politician, a former local government chairman and an effective legislator, she is eminently qualified to represent her zone and to serve the country as a whole.

“We are not unaware of the perceived or unofficial zoning of the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives to the North-East and the South-West respectively. While this policy remains a political decision, we still believe that the ultimate decision to this effect, remains a function of members of the National Assembly.

“As party officials, we are not opposed to the presumptive position taken by the national leadership of our party, but, we strongly believe that no decision is exhaustive or final.”

The forum said the  South-East was out  for better participation and representation in the present political dispensation to enable the party to grow in the region.

It added, “It is for this reason that we hereby declare our solidarity with the South-East in their quest to shift the leadership of the House of Representatives to the zone.

“It will please us greatly, if the national leadership of our party and indeed other leaders of the party will take a second look at its perceived position in this regard.”

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