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Senate Presidency: Consensus Candidate Tears APC Apart

Tension In All Progressives Congress As Its National Working Committee Looks To Have Decided On A Consensus Candidate For Plum Position Of The Senate President Against Wish Of Senators.

Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja

There is palpable tension in the All Progressives Congress (APC), as its National Working Committee (NWC) looks to have decided on a consensus candidate for the plum position of the Senate President in the 8th Senate. The decision by the NWC aims to draw up criteria that would be used to determine the best candidate for the position during the inauguration of the 8th Senate has started generating tension. During its meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari last Tuesday night, the NWC was said to have listed certain critical criteria, which the next Senate President must posses. The meeting, among other agreements, had agreed that the Party’s candidate for the post must come from the geopolitical zone with the second highest number of votes, after the North- West during the Presidential election held on March 28.

The Party leadership also agreed that the next Senate President must not have any corruption charges hanging on his or her neck, and should be one of the most ranking senators in the current Fourth Republic. A senator, who attended the meeting, hinted that the leadership of the Party was mandated to, within three days, present the most eligible aspirant as consensus candidate for the post based on the listed criteria during inauguration next week. The two gladiators currently contesting the office of the Senate President are: Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Senator Ahmad Lawan.

Two groups, the ‘Like Minds Senators’ and ‘Senate Unity Forum’, who were supporting the candidature of Saraki and Lawan, respectively, had claimed to have secured the endorsement of enough numbers of senators to win the race. While the Saraki camp has compiled and come out with a list containing the names of 34 APC senators-elect, the Lawan loyalists merely claimed that 40 APC senators-elect have endorsed the Yobe senator as their own consensus candidate. The development has crated serious confusion because there are just 59 APC senators-elect that are expected to be inaugurated in the 8th Senate, following the death of Senator Ahmed Zannah last month.

Some elected senators, who bared their minds on the burning issue yesterday, expressed fears that the decision of the APC to use criteria that are considered strange to the rules of the Senate and Constitution could be counterproductive. The Party is alleged to have plans to announce its preferred candidate between Lawan and Saraki during a meeting with the senators-elect today in Abuja. But those, who reacted to the issue, urged the leadership of the Party to allow the most popular aspirant to emerge through a due process that would be free, fair, credible and generally acceptable to all concerned. In his reaction, the Coordinator of the Like Minds Senators-elect, Senator Dino Melaye, cautioned the NWC against too much interference in the affairs of the Senate. Melaye maintained that the Senate is guided by rules.

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