Some All Progressives Congress senators-elect on Thursday cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the party against sitting on the fence on the issue of the principal officers of the National Assembly.
The APC has a majority of 65 senators in the ninth Senate compared to 37 Peoples Democratic Party’s members.
In the House of Representatives poll, the APC won 211 seats, while the PDP clinched 111 seats.
Although the APC leaders have yet to produce a zoning formula, it was gathered that senators-elect, who are interested in the Senate presidency and other positions have started lobbying their colleagues.
But the APC senators-elect, who spoke to Punch shortly after collecting their certificates of return, said the Presidency and the APC leaders should latest by next week come out with their position on zoning.
The incoming lawmakers specifically cautioned President Buhari and the APC leadership against working at cross-purposes to avoid another tussle that would alter the party’s zoning formula.
One of the senators-elect, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Many of the ranking senators have started mobilising support for their ambition and there could be a crisis if the process is not well managed.
“I will want the leadership of our party to come up with the zoning formula latest by next week since we are through with the elections. By so doing, they would have succeeded in giving a direction for everybody to follow.”
On his part, a senator-elect from Ekiti State, Adedayo Adeyeye, stressed the need for the national leadership of the party to provide the required direction for the ninth Senate.
Similarly, another senator-elect from Ekiti State, Bamidele Opeyemi (APC-Ekiti Central), noted that the leadership configuration of the ninth Senate should be designed in a way that would avoid friction.
Opeyemi said, “The leadership configuration in the ninth Senate or whatever process that will be used by the Presidency and party leadership must be well managed to avoid any backlash.
“The calibre and character of personalities elected for the 9th Senate are very solid and promising for the country but leadership is key, the very reason the leadership of the ruling party must manage it well.
“Once this is done, the party and in particular, the National Assembly and the Presidency will be on the same page on development-driven bills sponsorship, policy formulations and approvals.”
The 8th Senate spokesperson, who also got re-elected from Niger State, Sabi Abdullahi, allayed the fears of Nigerians on possible leadership crisis in the ninth Senate as against the situation in the outgoing Senate.
He told journalists at the event that the required lessons to be learnt from the leadership squabbles of the 8th Senate had been learnt, hence there would not be a repeat of the ugly past.
Abdullahi said, “I was a key player in the leadership configuration of the 8th Senate and the attendant crises that followed, as one of the 43 returnees now, the lessons learnt will be used to prevent the mistakes of the past from happening.”
Gaya indicates interest in Deputy Senate presidency
Meanwhile, the APC senators-elect gave the advice just as their counterpart from Kano South Senatorial District, Senator Kabiru Gaya, indicated his interest in the Deputy Senate President seat.
Already, seven ranking senators from the South-West are believed to be eyeing the position based on an assumption that the APC leadership would zone it to the geopolitical zone.
The senators-elect including Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Ibikunle Amosun are said to be interested in the position.
Gaya introduced a new twist on Thursday when he told journalists at the International Conference Centre, Abuja after collecting his certificate of return that he was also interested in the Deputy Senate President seat.
He said his aspiration was driven by mass appeal for it from his colleagues and his burning desire to serve in the leadership of the ninth Senate having returned for the fourth time.
He said, “As regards the leadership composition of the ninth Senate, the majority of my colleagues are mounting pressure on me to run for the position of the Deputy Senate President . I want to use this opportunity to announce that I’m running for the position being one of the most ranking senators in the ninth Senate.”
He nevertheless said that the actualisation of his dream would be determined by the APC leadership and the President.
The ambition of Gaya may not be unconnected with the pressure being mounted by the South-East and the South-South to produce the next Senate President.
Already, a ranking senator, Benjamin Uwajumogu, an APC member from Imo North), has been re-elected from the zone.
In the South-South, Francis Senator Alimikhena, (Edo North) and his counterpart for the Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege, were also re-elected.
There are reports that senators Ahmed Lawan ( APC Yobe North), Ali Ndume ( APC Borno South) and Danjuma Goje ( APC Gombe Central) may contest the Senate Presidency .
Ranking APC S’South, N’East senators await zoning formula
There are indications that ranking APC senators in the South-South, who have been re-elected, are waiting for the zoning formula of the party.
The APC will control the ninth Senate with its victory in 65 senatorial districts compared to the 37 won by the PDP.
The ruling party has yet to meet and determine the zoning formula for the Senate presidency and other posts in the National Assembly, but a source said the head of the upper chamber of the federal legislature could come from the South-South or the North-East.
Two of the ranking senators, Francis Alimikhena, (Edo North) and his counterpart for the Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege, said the decision of the APC leaders on zoning would determine their ambition on the senate presidency.