9th National Assembly: Deft moves begin over Senate Presidency

Some All Progressives Congress senators-elect on Thursday cautioned resident Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the party against sitting on the fence on the issue of the principal officers of the National Assembly.

The APC has a majority of 65 senators in the ninth Senate compared to 37 Peoples Democratic Party’s members.

In the House of Representatives poll, the APC won 211 seats, while the PDP clinched 111 seats.

Although the APC leaders have yet to produce a zoning formula, it was gathered that senators-elect, who are interested in the Senate presidency and other positions have started lobbying their colleagues.

But the APC senators-elect, who spoke to one our correspondents shortly after collecting their certificates of return, said the Presidency and the APC leaders should latest by next week come out with their position on zoning.

The incoming lawmakers specifically cautioned President Buhari and the APC leadership against working at cross-purposes to avoid another tussle that would alter the party’s zoning formula.

One of the senators-elect, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Many of the ranking senators have started mobilising support for their ambition and there could be a crisis if the process is not well managed.

“I will want the leadership of our party to come up with the zoning formula latest by next week, since we are through with the elections. By so doing, they would have succeeded in giving a direction for everybody to follow.”

On his part, a senator-elect from Ekiti State, Adedayo Adeyeye, stressed the need for the national leadership of the party to provide the required direction for the ninth Senate.

Similarly, another senator – elect from Ekiti State, Bamidele Opeyemi (APC Ekiti Central), noted that the leadership configuration of the ninth Senate should be designed in a way that would avoid friction.

Opeyemi said, “The leadership configuration in the ninth Senate or whatever process that will be used by the Presidency and party leadership must be well managed to avoid any backlash.

“The calibre and character of personalities elected for the 9th Senate are very solid and promising for the country but leadership is key, the very reason the leadership of the ruling party must manage it well.

“Once this is done, the party and in particular, the National Assembly and the Presidency, will be on the same page on development-driven bills sponsorship, policy formulations and approvals.”

He told journalists at the event that the required lessons to be learnt from the leadership squabbles of the 8th Senate had been learnt, hence there would not be a repeat of the ugly past.

Abdullahi said, “I was a key player in the leadership configuration of the 8th Senate and the attendant crises that followed , as one of the 43 returnees now, the lessons learnt will be used to prevent the mistakes of the past from happening.

Gaya indicates interest in Deputy Senate presidency

Meanwhile, the APC senators-elect gave the advice just as their counterpart from Kano South Senatorial District, Senator Kabiru Gaya, indicated his interest in the Deputy Senate President seat.

Already, seven ranking senators from the South-West are believed to be eyeing the position based on an assumption that the APC leadership would zone it to the geopolitical zone.

The senators-elect including Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Ibikunle Amosun are said to be interested in the position.

Gaya introduced a new twist on Thursday when he told journalists at the International Conference Centre, Abuja after collecting his certificate of return that he was also interested in the Deputy Senate President seat.

He said his aspiration was driven by mass appeal for it from his colleagues and his burning desire to serve in the leadership of the ninth Senate having returned for the fourth time.

He said, “As regards the leadership composition of the ninth Senate, the majority of my colleagues are mounting pressure on me to run for the position of the Deputy Senate President . I want to use this opportunity to announce that I’m running for the position being one of the most ranking senators in the ninth Senate.”

He nevertheless said that the actualisation of his dream would be determined by the APC leadership and the President.

I’m as qualified as other ranking senators – Omo-Agege

Also, Omo-Agege said that he was qualified to become the Senate President. He, however, said that he would wait for the decision of the leaders of the APC.

He stated, “I have not told anybody that I am interested in running for the Senate presidency, but having said that, I am just as qualified as any other ranking senator of the ninth Senate. So, when the time comes, depending on the decision made by the caucus of the party – Mr President and other relevant stakeholders – and depending on where it is zoned to, we will consult with others and comply with the rules.”

Omo-Agege, in an interview with one of our correspondents clarified a statement credited to him that President Buhari would pick the next Senate.

He said, “I never said Mr President (Buhari) will pick the next Senate President. That language wasn’t mine. I don’t know where it came from. My position is that Mr President is the leader of the APC. He was our candidate and when we went into the election, we ran on the APC agenda and he was the head of that campaign to push forward that agenda.

“That agenda is contrast to Atiku’s (Abubakar) agenda. It was taken to the Nigerian electorate and they made a choice and they (Nigerians) chose our agenda. It’s not only Mr President that believes in that agenda. All of us that were elected on the party’s platform are also part of that agenda.”

Omo-Agege said that the APC expected a loyal and constructive opposition in the Senate, which would come from rival parties, not 65 APC senators.

He said, “It should come from the PDP. That is their job. It’s not our job (in the APC) to assist them or join them in becoming opposition to the APC-led government.”

On the Senate presidency, Omo-Agege said, “It is the party’s caucus that will meet with Mr President and recommend people for the leadership positions (in the National Assembly). Mr President is the head of that caucus. We will no longer allow renegades to govern the National Assembly. When they did the last time, you saw what happened.

“For almost three or four years of Buhari’s first tenure, the Dr Bukola Saraki renegade regime made sure all plans and policies of the government were shot down. We are hell-bent on making sure there is no repeat, and the only way to do that is to make sure no one that is remotely connected to the Saraki renegade agenda is allowed into the leadership of the Senate.”

According to him, the APC caucus will assess ranking senators and recommend some of them as principal officers of the National Assembly.

Why we have not met on zoning–APC

Meanwhile, the APC has explained why it has not met to discuss the zoning formula for the principal officers of the National Assembly.

The party also dispelled insinuations that President Buhari would singlehandedly pick the principal officers without recourse to the party.

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