Leading candidate for the Senate Presidency, Dr. Ahmad Lawan took his campaign for the post to Borno State yesterday where he met with stakeholders on his agenda for the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.
Simultaneously, all the three Senators-elect from Niger State yesterday pledged their support for his aspiration, 24 hours after a similar endorsement by the three senators elect from Kano State.
It was gathered that some supporters of the other aspirants for the post – Alhaji Ali Ndume and Alhaji Danjuma Goje – might be willing to push for talks with the Lawan camp with a view to reaching a compromise in the interest of their party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Sources said Lawan and his group are leaving nothing to chances this time around so that they are not caught napping as they were in 2015
They are reaching out to as many groups and individuals who may have a say in who leads the 9th Senate.
The Senator elect from Ekiti South, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, has urged the leadership of the APC to open discussions with Ndume and Goje to assuage their feelings.
Lawan’s campaign team, is concluding talks with a key aspirant from Northeast, a development which may pave the way for a sole candidate for the headship of the legislature. Discussions were held last week in Abuja and “initial interactions show that in the coming weeks both camps will have cheering news to announce to APC leadership and Senators-elects.”
A source said an area being ironed out borders on the fact that once the aspirant drops out of the race, he will not be in contention for any principal officer position since both Senators are from the same geo-political zones.
A source at the meeting said: “In the light of the political reality, he came with a request that he should be given the Chairmanship of Appropriations Committee for the consideration of Senator Lawan and his camp.”
Lawan’s men, it was learnt, pleaded for time to consult widely on the aspirant’s conditions. To this effect, the national headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been briefed.
In endorsing him yesterday the three senators elect from Niger State said their decision followed due consultations and considerations and in recognition of the supremacy of our Party’s position on the matter.
Mohammed Sani Musa, Sabi Abdullahi and Muhammad Bima Enagi said in a statement in Minna that Lawan has the competence, charisma and integrity to preside over the affairs of the Senate.
The Senators submitted that the 9th National Assembly needs someone like Lawan’s leadership qualities that will facilitate in making laws for the good governance.
“His display of honesty, sincerity of purpose, respect for divergent views, loyalty to and believe in party supremacy as well as proven experience in the business of lawmaking makes him the obvious choice for the legislature’s top job”, they said.
Sani Musa said:”There is no doubt that Senator Lawan has also demonstrated stability, reliability and fidelity towards ensuring sound and people-oriented legislation at the Senate as he demonstrated in the build-up to the 2019 general elections where despite the pressure from the opposition, remained resolute and committed towards promoting the good course of the Senate as the apex law-making organ in the country.
“It is also worth noting that Distinguished Senator Lawan is one Nigerian who has remained detribalized, bi-partisan and accommodating to varying views as long as they are positive and can add to the growth and wellbeing of Nigerians.
“He has demonstrated this in his support for legislations sponsored by lawmakers who might not have been in the same political parties with him at the floor of the senate.
Sabi Abdullahi representing Niger North Senatorial District said he was optimistic that Lawan would “promote homogeneity of purpose at the 9th Senate and foster unity among distinguished senators as well as other arms of government, in a manner that will add value to good governance in Nigeria.
“I believe he embodies outstanding qualities that are germane to the success of the 9th Senate and the government as a whole. Therefore, I join my colleagues in endorsing his Senate Presidency ambition.”
Muhammad Bima Enagi representing Niger South said:” the need for effective, selfless and patriotic leadership at the Senate has become imperative. I believe therefore that our party, the ruling APC decision to endorse Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan for the Presidency of the Senate is a wise and timely decision that has great benefits not only for the party but for the next phase of governance as a whole in the country.”
Senator-elect Dayo Adeyeye (Ekiti South), said yesterday that it was important for the APC to dialogue with Ndume and Goje in the interest of everyone.
He told reporters in Abuja that the APC should strike a balance between its interest and the feelings of those who might not be favoured in the selection of process.
“It is a matter of give and take. I think the leadership of the party should do well to assuage the feelings of those who might not have been favoured in the selection process by inviting them and let them see reasons,” he said.
“The interest of the party is more important than individual interests. When we fight for, and protect the collective interests, individual privileges and interests can still be met”.
Adeyeye acknowledged the right of Ndume and Goje to aspire to be Senate President since they are members of the APC and more so when the position had been zoned to their geopolitical zone, adding that, “However, I think we can always find compromise”
He cautioned the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against fielding candidates for the President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate, saying doing so would negate the ethics and norms of parliamentary practice and procedure.
The first time senator, who was the spokesman for the PDP until December 2018, cited the example of the United States where the Republican Party, with only a slim majority over the Democrats still controls the American parliament.
“In America as we speak today, the Republicans are in the majority with three or four senators over the Democrats in the Senate and yet nobody in the minority party ever contemplated nominating any of their members to become the leader of majority.
“Because that will be against the ethics and the norms of parliamentary practice and procedure. After 20 years of democracy, we should start experimentation. By now we should start a proper culture, ethics and norms of the advanced democracy
“We should be able to do what the public expect should be the outcome of an election. Nigerians have given the APC majority of the seats in the Senate, they therefore expect the APC to control the Senate
“Nobody should therefore try to subvert the will of the people by trying to play any game or causing any division even among the majority party such that the will of the people, freely expressed at the polls, could be subverted.
“I do not expect any member of the PDP to come out and contest for leadership positions meant for the party with the majority seats on the day of inauguration of the Ninth National Assembly.
“All contestants on that day should be APC members. Since Nigerians deliberately voted for the APC to constitute the majority in the nation’s parliament with about 64 senators, the contest for the leadership positions should be within the APC.
“The PDP should not interfere in it. The opposition party should not produce any candidate and its members should not contest on that day.
“That is the practice in the advanced democracies. No minority party plays any game to take over the majority when it did not win the highest number of seats during the general elections.
“Even if the APC is presenting the three senators to contest for Senate President, I do not expect that the PDP will try to take advantage of the situation by sponsoring one of its members to contest the position.
“We don’t want such attitude in the Senate anymore. I think by now, we should have rules and develop proper democratic norms and values that would prevent us from doing what is not expected of us as a party and as members of a party”.
The senator-elect cautioned APC members contesting for the position of Senate President against picking a member of the opposition PDP as candidate for Deputy Senate President just to leverage on bloc votes expected from PDP senators.
“I do not expect a person contesting the seat of Senate President to make a member of the opposition party, his deputy in order to win the election. That would be a total betrayal. I expect that the party with the majority seats should produce the presiding officers and the principal officers meant for the ruling party.
Meanwhile, a group, the Society for Grassroots Political Participation, has urged adherence to international best practices in deciding the leadership of both the National Assembly.
The group, in a communiqué after its meeting, said adherence to internationally-recognised best practices would save the country from the sad experience of the outgoing National Assembly.
The communiqué released in Ibadan and signed by Executive Secretary, Sewaola Johnson, and the External Communication Officer, Musbau Alade, urged senators-elects, Reps-elect and political parties to ensure that “the foundation blocks on which other programme and activities of the legislature are cemented by proven parliamentary experience”.
It asked political parties to “put forward experience parliamentarians for the leadership of our National Assembly. Being a returning parliamentarian is not enough. Consideration must be accorded past legislative accomplishments of those to lead other distinguished Senators and honourable Representatives.”