The race for the Senate presidency in Nigeria’s 10th National Assembly has reportedly narrowed down to three contenders: former Governor Godswill Akpabio, Senator Abdulaziz Yari, and Senator Osita Izunaso.
Sources within the National Assembly that spoke with Punch have revealed that these developments have resulted in the senators-elect dividing themselves into three power blocs, aligned with each contender.
Disagreements arose among party members after the All Progressives Congress (APC) released a consensus list outlining the party’s zoning arrangement.
Olujonwo Obasanjo, a party chieftain, emphasized the supremacy of the party and called for all aggrieved members to align with the party’s decision.
However, some members raised concerns regarding regional representation, particularly from the North-Central region.
In response to the divisions, an extraordinary meeting of the APC Senators and Senators-Elect was held on Friday.
According to an anonymous source, Akpabio’s candidacy was upheld due to the endorsement of President-Elect, Bola Tinubu.
Akpabio’s bloc is predominantly comprised of senators from the South-West, with some representation from the South-South, South-East, and North-Central regions, totaling around 54 senators.
Another bloc, led by former Governor, Yari, emerged in reaction to the unilateral selection of Akpabio as the APC’s consensus candidate for the Senate presidency.
This bloc consists primarily of senators from the North, with a significant number from the South-East, South-South, and a few from the South-West.
Their main concern is Akpabio’s unfavorable perception among northern senators, fearing that the North’s interests may be compromised under his leadership.
The third bloc, headed by Izunaso, has members distributed across all geopolitical zones.
Comprising former House of Representatives members, serving senators, and newly elected senators, this group advocates for a reformed Senate that will contribute to a new Nigeria.
Serious talks are reportedly underway between the Yari and Izunaso blocs to collaborate and share the positions of Senate President and Deputy Senate President.
If successful, this alliance would command a significant majority in the Senate.
Loyalists of Yari have urged him to withdraw support for Akpabio, citing concerns about his alleged corruption cases and the negative signal it would send to the global community.
Loyalists of President-Elect, including influential stakeholders, media outlets, and pressure groups, have expressed reservations about Akpabio leading the National Assembly due to ongoing corruption allegations.
They argue that a corruption-free, experienced, and competent ranking senator from the South-South or South-East should be supported for the position.
Among the potential candidates, Senator Osita Izunaso is highlighted as the preferred choice due to his clean record and experience.