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Senate Presidency Race Gets Messier

Paul Yovo delves into the emerging cracks in the APC following the power tussle among factions in the party for the Senate Presidency

Details have emerged during the week that the battle for the Senate Presidency is getting messier with factions and old boy network emerging within the APC to challenge the principle of integrity and competence being canvass by the party for the position.

Senator Danjuma Goje’s press briefing at the weekend disowning fellow Senator Ahmad Lawan from the Northeast as a potential candidate for the position is causing ripples not only within his zone which looked good to bid for the exalted seat in the event that most of the candidates from the conventional North Central zone fail the suitability test of the party the seat but also within the party.

At the recent National Assembly Induction Course for elected Senators and Representatives, the buzz the issue has generated has literally set the cat among the pigeons with some older and ranking Senators calling the bluff of the party with regard to the litmus test of integrity and politicking for the position.

Alarmed that the tussle for the position may begin to crack the along the old factions that merged to form the party, leaders are said to be weighing the option of broadening the rules and regulations governing the zoning formula and candidature of contestants. For instance, when the issues came up recently and the North Central to which the position was zone following recent president, the party leadership, particularly the President –elect, Muhammadu Buhari had hinted that such an exalted position must be occupied by a man of relative impeachable character in line with the anti-corruption stance of the party. But sooner had this position been made public than it was realized that the probable candidates are all tainted: Senators Bukola Saraki, from Kwara, George Akume, from Benue, Danjuma Goje, from Gombe, and Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa were all found to have some integrity baggage coming from their past as former governors. Except for Akume, the others have pending cases with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC. Even so, the latter is said to have a habitual challenge that the others were ready to wave in the face of his formidable supporters to put all of them on the same scale.

The worry that has come to hunt the party now is a headache that it conveniently setaside during electioneering: the power of the governors.

During the search for Buhari’s Vice-Presidential candidate, the governors group, comprising serving governors Rabiu Kwakwanso of Kano, Chibuke Amaechi of Rivers, Wamakko of Sokoto, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, Rochas Okorocha of Imo and ex-governors of Kwara, Saraki, Goje of Gombe and Kayode Femi of Ekiti had campaign for the VP position to be given to one of them. The reason was simple. Buhari, they had canvassed had been out of governance for a long time, and needed to be assisted by some experienced person in governance to make things smooth and easy for him. Party leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, bent on getting his associate into the position brooked no such reasoning, pointedly telling the governors, particularly those that defected from the PDP, that, they had no right to come into a house that has been built and tell the owners how to run its affairs.

Now that the elections have been won, the governors have regrouped and daring the party to ignore them this time round. Many want to see one of their own hold a powerful position in the party as a rallying point for their interests.

They have come to realize that apart from Tinubu’s desire to play politics as a politician, he is also scheming to put “his men” in strategic position in the bid to checkmate the president in the event that some hawks from the North hijacks him and the party.

So when Goje at the weekend disowned Senator Lawan to the public, stating that the Northeast zone to which the former was been supported for the Senate Presidency, had not picked anybody until stakeholders have met and so decide, many saw the comradeship of governors playing out again. At a meeting attended by 12 out of the 13 Senators from the zone, with the absentee sending his apology.

Goje, who was made the leader of the caucus and Senator Isa Hamamisu as secretary, stated that,” While the party leadership is considering the zoning of the National Assembly leadership position, the caucus is appealing for the zoning of the highest position in the National Assembly to the North East considering the special needs of the zone… For this reason, the caucus urges the public and distinguished colleagues nationwide and indeed, everybody, Nigerians and non-Nigerians to completely disregard any purported endorsement of any Senator from the Northeast by and zone because zoning of post by APC has not been formally done yet. We should completely disregard any endorsement of any of our members here or absent.”

He ended by saying the caucus was not insupport or endorsement of any Senator from the zone.

As things stand now, Goje is holding forth in the Northeast zone, Kwankwaso and Amaechi are also rooting for Saraki, with some spite for Tinubu, who is still bent on supporting Akume, an old Action Congress of Nigeria man. In fact, one of the governor group arrow head, Amaechi was so ruffled by Tinubu’s antics that he asked him pointedly how much he put down for the war chest of the party during electioneering for him to be dictating the direction of the party at all times.

For the party, the coming weeks before the May 29 handover would prove to be testy as its leaders crack their brains to ride over this current storm tugging with vengeance at the soul of the party.


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