Politicians and lawmakers from the North East and North Central geopolitical zones are mounting pressure on the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to allow them to produce the Senate president for the ninth assembly.
Ranking APC senators-elect including former governors are pushing for the party to zone the seat and other leadership positions to their areas.
Sources told Daily Trust on Wednesday that the delay in zoning the leadership positions might not be unconnected with Saturday’s supplementary polls in five states which the APC and the Presidency are very much interested in the outcome.
Some senators spoken to said failure of the party to zone the positions would lead to a repeat of the 2015 episode that resulted in a major crisis of confidence when Dr. Bukola Saraki was elected Senate President with the help of PDP senators while Senator Ike Ekweremadu of PDP emerged as his deputy.
To avoid the same scenario, they said APC should zone the post to either North East or North Central even as senators-elect from the two zones are working hard to outdo each other.
An APC senator-elect from the North East told Daily Trust last night, that “The outgoing Senate President is from the North Central and we urge the party to zone it this time to the North East.
“This zone delivered the highest number of votes to President Muhammadu Buhari after the North West. Besides, the North Central has so far produced four Senate Presidents since 1992, namely Dr. Iorchia Ayu, Chief Ameh Ebute, Mr. David Mark and Dr. Bukola Saraki. It is therefore timely, fit and proper for the North East zone to get this post this time around. We should also expedite the zoning of all the National Assembly posts so that we will safely avoid the crisis we had in 2015,” he said.
Daily Trust also learnt from top party sources that APC top gun Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is pushing for zoning of the key posts, just as he did in 2015.
He added however that Tinubu also wants his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu to become the Deputy Senate President.
Saraki, Dogara move to install successors
Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara are also reportedly rooting to install those who will succeed them during the inauguration of the coming 9th Assembly, Daily Trust has learnt.
While Saraki lost his Kwara Central Senatorial seat to Ibrahim Yayaha Oloriegbe of APC, hence he would not be in the 9th Senate, Dogara has secured his reelection, but his new party, PDP, has far below the required numbers to make him retain his seat.
Sources told Daily Trust in Abuja last night that the duo are now making frantic efforts to influence the emergence of their successors.
It was learnt that Saraki is using his PDP senators-elect to negotiate the seat of the Deputy Senate president for the party like he did in 2015 when he allowed Ike Ekweremadu to emerge as his deputy, while he was in APC.
It was learnt that the PDP may present Ekweremadu once again, or nominate another senator from its fold as deputy Senate president, should the plan sail through.
”Saraki has vowed to make the major person that worked for him to emerge as Senate President succeed him in June. That’s what’s on the ground now. PDP senators meet almost every day to review the issue,” one of the sources said.
“What they want is to have someone in APC that would guarantee them the seat of the Deputy Senate President so that they would come en bloc and back the person. They’re working towards a certain former governor,” the source said.
Top among the contenders for Senate President are Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan (Yobe), Mohammed Ali Ndume (Borno), Mohammed Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa).
However, it was learnt yesterday that Borno State Governor and Senator-elect Kashim Shettima is also being considered for the Senate presidency.
Even though Shettima is a first-time senator, the source said party leaders consider him as the top party figure in the North East zone who contributed immensely to its success in the recent election.
“He is also intellectual, measured and widely respected for the way he managed crisis-torn Borno State in the last eight years and his leadership could bring much-needed respectability to the Senate.
“As for Goje, who is going into his third term as senator, the source said party leaders tout him as a successful former governor, an effective legislator, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a major political strategist who wrestled Gombe State away from PDP rule after eight years,” he added.
Issues in House of Reps
As for Dogara, Daily Trust had about three weeks ago reported that he was making moves to retain his seat.
However, recent happenings revealed that Dogara has dropped that ambition and is now looking for a way to make “one of his own men” the next speaker.
As part of the move to install his successor, Dogara and his loyalists that backed him to emerge speaker in 2015, met in Abuja yesterday with a view to making one of them the speaker.
Among the Dogara loyalists contesting are Babangida Ibrahim (APC, Katsina), Ahmed Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa) and Umar Bago (APC, Niger). It was also learnt that Aliyu Betara (APC, Borno), who is Dogara’s right-hand man, may be pushed to join the race.
Other top contenders who are not part of the Dogara loyalists are House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) and Mohammed Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno). The duo contested for speaker and deputy speaker respectively but lost to Dogara and his current deputy, Yussuf Suleimon Lasun.
Dogara’s plan, it was learnt, was to bring the PDP reps-elect together to back one of his loyalists above, in case the APC zones the speaker’s position out of their zones.