Teddy Nwanunobi, in Abuja X-rays the heat the battle for the Senate Presidenvy is generating in the All Progressives Congress
A day after he publicly made a bold statement on his intention to become the President of the Senate while fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, Senator Bukola Saraki’s supports list for the plum job has continued to rise and divide the All Progressives Congress leaders, particularly those fielding other candidates for the number three job.
Saraki, the top contender in the race to the Senate Presidency had on Monday during the week said he was most qualified for the job just as he urged the Federal Government to take the bull by the horn by completely removing the fuel subsidy, and restore normalcy to the sector, which had been plagued by crisis until the Senate stepped in to bring the warring Minster of Finance and the major Oil Marketers over the correct subsidy amount to be paid the latter.
While fielding questions from journalists in Abuja on his current Senate presidential ambition and other critical national issues, Saraki maintained that he has the capacity, competence and the will power to drive the Eighth Senate to reposition the country towards rapid socio-economic development.
He advised the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators-elect to focus on competence, capacity and merit in their choice of the next Senate President and other principal officers rather than on sentiments.
Few hours later the party Secretary of the Mai Malaguni issues a press statement to say that the parry has not made any decision as to who, where and how the next Senate President would emerge from its ranks. That was close to what Party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ahd told journalists at the weekend that competence and integrity, rather than zoning would be paramount in the party’s consideration of who emerges the choice of the party.
Saraki himself echoed the same statement in his Monday meeting with journalists in Abuja. He said that he has observed with dismay that Nigerians were not receiving the needed services from their elected representatives in the last many years of democratic governance in the country because leaders usually emerged through ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments rather than on the basis of qualification and competence.
He noted that the electorate had been complaining that they were not feeling the impact of the National Assembly because many things were not done right.
He stressed further that Nigerians should de-emphasise sentiments and go for those who could deliver the desired dividends of democracy to the people.
The former Governor of Kwara State also noted that the APC won the last general elections because the people were tired of the old retrogressive way of doing things and resolved to vote for change, in order to usher in new and better ways of running public affairs to yield the desired result.
“We need to review the way we have been doing things and start doing things right. I will ensure that the Senate makes impact on the lives of the people. The people are not feeling the impact of the Parliament and they are asking what their elected representatives are doing there.
“I will provide quality direction on how to run the affairs of the country. We have to give Nigerians value for their money. The Senate must have a national agenda that will effectively address the multifarious problems confronting this country at the moment.
“Nigerians voted for APC for change so that things can be done differently. We need to allow internal democracy to take place in electing the leadership of the next Assembly so that people can elect their choice candidates without interference. Let us not base choice of leadership on sentiment. The PDP lost because Nigerians were tired of the failure in the system,” he added.
But in a replay of the crisis-prone actions of senators in the party’s ranks is in the offing, similar to what happened at the weekend when a group led by Senator-elect Dino Maleye stated the 35 of APC’s 59 Senators had queued behind Sarari as opposed to another group led by Senator Barnabas Gemade, which is rooting for his kinsman and former Governor of Benue Senate Presidency Battle Ripping APC Apart State, Senator George Akume, prompting party mouthpiece, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to issue a statement denouncing both groups.
The race for the next Senate President took another twist yesterday, as the current Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has emerged the sole candidate for the North-Central Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Saraki’s official endorsement for the plum and exalted position by the North-Central geo-political zone was contained in an emailed communiqué signed by Hon. Letep M. Dabang, Chairman, Plateau State; Alhaji Haddy A. Ametuo, Chairman, Kogi State; Hon. Philips Shekwo, Chairman, Nasarawa State; Alhaji Usman Malik, Chairman FCT; Engr. Jibrin Imam Mohammed, Chairman, Niger State and Hon. Ishola Balogun Fulani, Chairman, Kwara State.
The communiqué reports that the choice of Saraki as the sole candidate for the position that is billed to be contested in the next two weeks in the National Assembly leadership elections, followed the withdrawal of another contestant from the zone, Senator George Akume, from the race.
In a communiqué at the end of a crucial meeting of APC Chairmen in the zone held in Abuja, the zone resolved and unanimously declared that it is only interested in the office of the Senate Presidency, which had earlier been zoned to it by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The communiqué said that sequel to the personal decision of one of the contenders from the zone that he had withdrawn his aspiration and interest from contesting the position of the Senate President of the 8th Senate, they are left with no other obvious conclusion that Saraki remains the sole candidate from the zone to be presented to the leadership of the party as the sole candidate for the position of Senate President of the 8th Assembly.
The UNION reports that the sole endorsement of Saraki was borne out of his unprecedented commitment to the growth and success of the party at all levels in the zone and across the country.
The UNION further reports that Saraki’s commitment, sacrifices, sincerity and purposeful leadership that ensured the success of all the senators, House of Representatives members, House of Assembly members, as well as the gubernatorial candidates in the affected states within the zone.
“That we are resolute in our collective decision to produce a single candidate from the zone to the office of the Senate Presidency and we abide with same considering the fact that all our distinguished senators from the zone had equally maintained similar position in their earlier meetings,” the communiqué read in part.
The chairmen, who endorsed the communiqué, have, therefore, rejected an attempt by some individuals and a group within and outside the North-Central that are making efforts to jeopardise the collective will of the people of the zone.
They vehemently opposed any alliance, horse trading and fixing of positions in a way that may sabotage the official position of the APC North-Central Zone as such step runs contrary to the interest and yearnings of the people, the APC members and the zone on a larger scale.
“As the Party leaders in our various states, we hereby unequivocally say that our people unanimously give their support to Saraki’s Senate Presidency without iota of doubt in his ability to make the zone and Nigeria proud in no distance future just as he had delivered in other endeavors he has been involved in the past.
“Also, we solicit the support of all elected Senators and House of Representatives members from other geo-political zones to give their total support to this great son of Nigeria who has distinguished himself in a similar responsibility in recent past and they should be rest assured that he will not disappoint them.
“It is our candid believe that his leadership would not only provide for an open door Senate Presidency and all inclusive administration but also be a good ambassador of our dear country that we shall be proud of,” it added.
This is a replay of what happened on Saturday when All Progressives Congress senators-elect, rising from a retreat, broke into factions to endorse different candidates.
That was when 35 out of the 59 APC senators-elect led by Mr Dino Melaye endorsed Sen. Bukola Saraki (APC Kwara-Central), another faction led by Sen. Barnabas Gemade endorsed Sen. Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe-North).
Briefing newsmen, Mr Dino Melaye, said that he and 34 others senators-elect of “like minds’’ had signed the endorsement of Sen. Saraki as their candidate for the Senate Presidency.
He said that the senators of like minds were interested in having a Senate President who had integrity, competence and ability to stabilise the legislative institution.
Melaye insisted that the party in spite of recent stance by a party leader, Bola Tinubu that the position would not be zoned, had already zoned the position to the North-Central.
“Of the 59 Senators of the APC, 35 of us present here today hereby reaffirm our collective commitment and resolution to ensure the candidature of Saraki as the Senate President of 8th Assembly.
“We have also resolved that the office of the Deputy Senate President be zoned to the North-East.
“All senators from the North-Central zone have taken a firm position that they are only interested in the office of the Senate President.
“This is because the position had earlier been zoned to the North-Central by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
“North-central senators have resolved to abide by the resolution of the zone on a single candidate and anything short of this is an attempt to jeopardise the collective interest of the zone,” he said.
He said that the group had yet to decide on who would be the consensus candidate for the position of the Deputy Senate President.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Sen. Gemade led group; “Senate Unity Forum’’ said that they had endorsed Sen. Ahmed Lawan for the Presidency of the Senate and Sen. George Akume as his Deputy.
“We the Senate Unity Forum comprising senators-elect from various states have met, held extensive discussions and resolved to support Lawan as Senate President.
“Kindly take this to be our collective decision in the best interest of our party, APC and our dear nation Nigeria,” he said.
The resolution was signed by Sen. Gemade as the spokesperson as well as Lawan and Akume.
However, the number of senators-elect in the Senate Unity Forum, who supported Lawan was not disclosed to the newsmen.With the heat been generated by this division in the house and the party tying to mend the cracks with as shown by the denial by Mohammed and Malaguni, the party would need some miracle to maintain the fragile unity the overwhelming expectations of Nigerians is causing it.