Unconfirmed report has it that leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have started lobbying senators of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to support its anointed candidate for the position of Senate President of the 9th Assembly.
APC had earlier noted that Senator Ahmed Lawan must be the next Senate President, adding that the party does not need PDP senators.
Two other APC senators, Ali Ndume and Danjuma Goje, also want to be senate president.
Ndume and Goje who clearly does not enjoy the support of their party have reportedly been lobbying opposition senators.
Ndume had since rejected the decision of his party leaders to support Lawan, saying that it was his constitutional rights to contest the senate presidency.
An undisclosed senator-elect who spoke to Punch revealed that Senator Goje is working behind the scene to gain the support of his opposition colleagues.
“Goje is a very experienced and tactical politician.
“He understands the politics of the chamber better and he knows that making noises on the pages of the newspapers would not help any of the aspirants.
“He is not disobeying the leadership of the party by making up his mind to contest against Lawan. He is only exercising his rights as a ranking senator whose geopolitical zone has been asked to produce the Senate President,” the undisclosed source said (as seen on Punch).
Following apparent unsuccessful attempt to make Ndume and Goje to drop their ambitions, the leadership of the party is now reportedly reaching out to members of the PDP to support Lawan.
The National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, were advised to reach out to PDP senators for support if they really want Lawan to emerge as the next Senate President.
Tinubu had last warned that any APC member who go against the party’s decision would be sanctioned no matter who that person is.
With the division among the APC senators, there is fear that the PDP might outsmart the ruling party on the day of the election.
Prince Dayo Adeyeye, a former PDP spokesman who is now a senator-elect under the APC, said that it would be against global parliamentary norms if any PDP senator decides to contest for Senate Presidency on inauguration day.
“Nigerians have given the APC the majority of the seats in the Senate and they expect the party to control the Senate.
“Nobody should therefore try to subvert the will of the people by trying to play any game or create a 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 PDP member to contest the leadership positions meant for the party with the majority seats during the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly,” he said.
No doubt, with the obvious division in the APC, a PDP senator could emerge as the next Senate President with 41 confirmed votes.
The APC in its reaction to the report that it was now lobbying PDP senators for the senate presidency said that it was normal to lobby in politics.
Isa-Onilu, the ruling party spokesman, said that the APC was free to do whatever it takes to achieve its goal.
“I am not confirming that we are lobbying the PDP leaders and lawmakers because there is nothing formal, like a committee, doing that.
“But it is normal that, in trying to get a position, you will stretch your hands beyond members of your party. It is normal in politics that you don’t just stay in your own corner and expect that everything will fall in place.
“But the lawmakers can do whatever they feel will help their course, as long as they stay within the limit of our rules of engagement with other parties. Otherwise, there is nothing to it.”
PDP says it would shock APC
The PDP in a statement issued by the party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi, has criticized the leadership of the APC for wanting to have total control of everything, both the executive and the legislature.
He however noted that the PDP has its plan and would certainly shock the APC.
“It is normal for the APC to lobby the PDP lawmakers. It is however unfortunate that the leadership of the APC, like Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have advocated “winners take all” for their members which is not possible.
“This has altered whatever is expected to be a healthy lobby with the PDP and I can assure the APC and Oshiomhole of a shock.
“Just as Senator Dino Melaye said, INEC will not be involved in the election to select the leaders of the chambers. This is an election that cannot be declared inconclusive neither can it be manipulated.
“As a political party, we obviously have our joker and plans and will display it at the appropriate time. Nigerians should wait for our last-minute card.”
APC orders Ndume and Goje to drop ambition within 2 months
The leadership of the APC has however warned members elected under the party’s platform to drop their plans to move against the party’s decision.
Isa-Onilu said that APC members in the National Assembly must obey the decision of the party.
“We do not want to pre-empt any member because we still have about two months to the day they are expected to elect the new leaders of the National Assembly.
“It will be unhelpful if we begin to pre-empt and pass judgment, two months away from that day.
“We understand that our members know that the country’s constitution does not recognise independent candidates. If they are elected on the platform of a particular party, it means that they are ready to abide by the position and the constitution of that party.
“We are confident that by the time we are ready to have new leaders in the National Assembly, the members who are doing things that appear contrary to the position of the party would have seen reasons to step down and abide by the party’s position.”
He further revealed that the APC was working hard to avoid the repeat of what happened in 2015, adding that it would ensure that the leaders emerge with the consensus of the party.
“The consensus arrangement is what you see us doing. You will remember that there was nothing like this in 2015.
“We are starting over two months to the day, you can see that we are taking steps that we need to take. The steps are on, it is not everything that is in public domain.
“What is important is that the APC is showing the way democracy should be practised. Party supremacy is what you get in best of democracies and we want to be one of such.”
Ogbodo ThankGod is currently the Managing Director/CEO/Group Chief Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He was the Chief Editor at NaijaBuzz.News before his new top leadership role. Ogbodo has years of experience in the Nigeria Media Industry and has co-founded some media companies. He is the founder of Ogbodo Solution Nigeria and 1Push.Ng. He loves playing football and is a strong supporter of Lionel Messi who he describes as the greatest footballer of all time.