Determined to avert a crisis in the 9th National Assembly, All Progressives Congress (APC) governors have waded into the row over the choice of principal officers, especially the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The race for Senate President is being hotly contested by the Senate Leader, Dr Ahmed Lawan; the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sen. Danjuma Goje, and a former Senate Leader, Sen. Ali Ndume.
A team raised by the governors may this week hold talks with Goje, who is rated as the favourite of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), The Nation learnt.
The governors are stepping in following speculations that Goje may declare his ambition for the coveted seat this week.
According to a source, the APC governors are worried about the danger of the lawmakers elected on the platform of their party going into the Senate and the House divided on June 6.
It was also learnt that the governors do not want the PDP to take advantage of any fresh crisis in APC to ‘hijack’ the National Assembly’s leadership.
The governors decided to prevail on aspirants for principal offices to defer to President Muhammadu Buhari, especially on the choices of Dr Ahmad Lawan for the Senate President and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker.
A top source said: “The APC governors have chosen to rally around the President to resolve issues surrounding the election of principal officers. They said it is obvious that the party cannot handle the tension alone.
“The main agenda is to ensure that our new members in the National Assembly go for inauguration in a more united manner. The governors do not want the party to play into the hands of the PDP this time around.
“As part of the first leg of consultations by the governors, a team is expected to meet with Goje this week to seek his understanding.
“This is a follow up to a similar meeting between the President and Goje, which was brokered by Governor Nasir el-Rufai.”
On how the intervention will affect other aspirants, the source, who asked not to be named, said: “The intervention will trickle down. The governors will meet with other aspirants like Sen. Ndume, and those seeking to vie for the office of the Speaker.
“We have got to a stage that we need to put the interest of our government above personal interest.”
The APC leadership is believed to have reached out to Goje, but there has not been any commitment by him.
Another source added: “Goje has not said yes or no on his purported ambition. But we have reached out to him. Some ex-governors have also met with him on the need to work with the President and the party.”
Meanwhile, the APC has debunked insinuations that it will force senators-elect and House members-elect to sign an undertaking on the choice of principal officers.
It was gathered that some lawmakers from the opposition were flying the kite to create a crisis in the APC caucuses in both chambers.
“There is nothing like that, we are not going to blackmail our lawmakers and tie them down. We do not have any reasons to be doubting ourselves, “a high-ranking party leader said.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the party was confident that majority of the lawmakers are committed to its interest.
He said: “Majority of the newly-elected members of the National Assembly are committed and they share our worldview of being progressive.
“We are certain they will work with the party in the interest of our government so that we can deliver our promises to Nigerians.”