By Uche Mbah
The All Progressives Congress, APC’s insistence that the Senate President must come from their Party, and that it must have to be Ahmed Lawan has been generating some rancor within the party, with senators with eyes on the pie vowing to fight solo if the Adams Oshiomhole led party will not backtrack.
Although efforts are ongoing to reconcile the warring parties, it may hamper the party’s chances if not diplomatically handled.
It will be recalled that the APC has settled on Lawan, with the Party Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole threatening anyone who will go against the party position. The choice was said to have been endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari, who, opposition allege, wants a pliant President of the Senate to enable him prosecute his third term agenda. Lawan himself appears to have keyed in to that mood when he allegedly mooted the idea of a constitutional amendment to facilitate Buhari’s life Presidency. He has since denied the allegation.
Recall again that Lawal Gumau, Senator for Bauchi South senatorial District had last year, during the supplementary election that brought him to the Senate, vowed that his sole reason of coming to the red chamber is to sponsor a bill for the life presidency of President Buhari. Both alleged affirmations have fueled speculations that the ultimate aim of President Buhari is life presidency. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had tried it, but the idea died in the senate plenary.
Obasanjo has, however, denied that he was ever interested in the third term bid.
But Senator Abdullahi, who is the spokesperson of Ahmad Lawan For Senate President Group, described the purported Lawan’s statement as a very desperate attempt by detractors and some politicians who want to taint the good image of the Senate Leader, and the future Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
“When we (Senators) met the President two days ago, he (President) was very emphatic that he has stood for election five times and this is his last”, said Abdullahi. “The President made it clear that he wants to retire quietly to his home, on the basis of which he is going to work very hard these four years since Nigerians have given him this opportunity, to leave a lasting legacy behind. The President’s statement clearly shows that he is a full democrat who knows that our constitution only provides for second term which he has gotten, and for which he is grateful to Nigerians. Therefore, to come back to say that Senator Ahmad Lawan will amend the constitution to keep him in office beyond 2023 is just the height of evil thinking and bad politics taken too far. The public should discountenance that and focus on supporting a very genuine and transparent process that will lead to the emergence of our own choice leaders as Senators-elect when the 9th Senate unveils”, Senator Abdullahi said.
The opposition to Lawan’s ambition seem to have caught on. Others vying for the Senate leadership are Danjuma Goje and Ali Ndume, both from the North-east zone of the country, and Abdullahi Adamu from the North-central zone. Ali Ndume has already written the leadership of the party intimating them of his intention to contest for the senate Presidency. Now, he said, Oshiomhole unilaterally imposed Lawan on the Party. “Before I went into this contest, I consulted with Mr President and he gave me the go-ahead”, Ndume said. “I consulted with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and he also gave me the go-ahead immediately after the primaries.”
Political watchers are quick to point out how the opposition to Lawan is generating rancor within the Party, positing that it will likely cost them the senate Presidency. By statute, the Senate President is elected by the senate from “among its members”, according to the senate statute. It has nothing to do with parties. This the People’s Democratic Party, PDP harped on, insisting that they are also in the race for the senate Presidency.
“It is laughable and amounts to empty grandstanding and self-delusion for President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, to pose as if the presiding offices and committee chairmanship in the National Assembly are exclusive rights of the APC”, the party said through their national spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan. “President Buhari and Oshiomhole should wake up to the fact that the National Assembly belongs to no political party but to all Nigerians, who exercise their control through their elected representatives. For emphasis, Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is clear in providing that ‘There shall be:- (a) a president and a deputy president of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves. Section 92 (1) makes the same provision for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of State House of Assembly”, he said.
Currently, the APC has 65 senators while PDP has 53. Analysts suggest that they may garner protest votes from disgruntled APC Senators to create a majority.