APC SET TO AVOID ‘SARAKI-LIKE’ CRISIS AHEAD OF SENATE PRESIDENCY RACE

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One major task that stands in the way of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is how the leadership of the National Assembly will emerge. Now that the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections have been concluded.

The party directed its members to leave the issue of National Assembly leadership and focus on winning the governorship and House of Assembly elections at its meeting of March 13, 2023.

The National Chairman of the party, Adamu Abdullahi, told lawmakers-elect that they have right to struggle position of leadership. However, he urged them to avoid anything that would cause rifts and deny the party victory in the governorship elections.

At the intense Monday meeting, the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, revealed that he had no preferred candidates for the leadership of both chambers who will constitute the 10th National Assembly.

Tinubu, who was represented by the Vice President-Elect, Kashim Shettima, disclosed this at the meeting with new members-elect to the National Assembly.

Irrespective of the decisions of the party, some lawmakers have however refused to give up as lobbying is going on among members.

One of the senators, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said although they were told to go and work for the elections, that did not take away the fact that aspirants were lobbying for the position.

A senator said, consultations are still ongoing and some desperate contestants especially former governors are luring senators-elect with pledges of juicy committee members.

According to results announced by the INEC for the February 25 elections and so far in the Senate, the APC won 57 seats while the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party garnered 29 seats.

Others include the All Progressives Grand Alliance, one; Labour Party six; New Nigeria Peoples Party, two; Social Democratic Party, two and Young Progressive Party with one seat.

According to Parliamentary tradition, the party with the dominant members would constitute the majority leadership, while the PDP which is the party with the second highest number of lawmakers in the chamber would produce the minority principal officers.

Some of the APC lawmakers who have openly declared intentions for the Senate Presidency are; the third-term ranking senator representing Kano North, Jibrin Barau; the former governor of Abia state and Senator representing Abia North, Orji Kalu; and the Senator representing, Borno south, Ali Ndume.

Others who have been said to be in the race include senator, Sani Musa( Niger-East), former Akwa-Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio, former Edo governor, Adams Oshiomole (Edo North) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi South).

Some lawmakers have met with some of their colleagues individually, and some daring ones such as Senator Barau hosted not fewer than 70 out of the 109 senators to a luncheon last week at a hotel in Abuja.

Some analysts have called that for power balance, fairness and equity, the APC should zone the post to the South-East while the South-South gets that of the Deputy Senate President considering the outcry from the zone on marginalisation.

If the party goes by that formula, the contest would likely be between Kalu and Umahi.

However, some people believe Kalu, the current chief whip would be more favoured based on his experience and his position in the Senate.

Others in a different school of thought believe that the party should not base such important positions on the religious and ethnic basis but should consider the competence and experiences of the persons involved.

The North West has also claimed to have been marginalised despite being the ones that produce the highest votes for the presidency every election year.

The North-West also claimed not to have any position in the current leadership of the party nor have they produced a Senate president before, so they also should complain of marginalisation.

Responding to the issue, a source close to senator Barau who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the APC particularly under the leadership of Tinubu would consider the interest of Nigerians and the party.

According to a source in the Senate North-Central caucus, the zone was willing to sacrifice the seat of the National Chairman of the party to clinch the seat of the Senate President.

For the South-South, the media aide to senator Akpabio, Anietie Ekong, said his principal stood a high chance of becoming the senate president in the 10th Assembly.

 He noted that in 2015, Akpabio as a first-term Senator, surprised most bookmakers with his election as the Senate Minority Leader, a position he held till he resigned to join the ruling APC.

From all indications, the APC is trying to avoid the 2015 bitter experience, when Bukola Saraki, against its wish, became the President of the Senate.

Advising the APC on how to avoid what happened in 2015, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy, Auwal Rafsanjani, said it was important for the ruling party to have a consideration of sharing political offices across the zones.

 This, he noted, would help alleviate the perceived lack of participation or involvement of other zones.

He also urged the ruling party to ensure equitable sharing of political offices because democracy is also about participation and inclusion.

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