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Confusion Sets In As Tinubu Gives Akpabio Difficult Condition to Emerge Senate President, Northern Senators-elect Push Harder 

It was gathered that Tinubu asked Akpabio to convince him by producing 60 senators whom he had said had endorsed him for Senate President.



Confusion Sets In As Tinubu Gives Akpabio Difficult Condition to Emerge Senate President, Northern Senators-elect Push Harder 



It’s a fierce contest permeating all spheres of the polity, but nearing its apogee. From the wetlands of southern Nigeria to the northern Sahara, the polity is bristling with the politics of the incoming 10th National Assembly, waiting for the inauguration in June with bated breath.


And the political actors are leaving no stone unturned in an effort to successfully achieve their ambitions.




At the last count, aspirants have emerged in the jostle for the positions in both chambers of the National Assembly. For the Senate President, those in contention are Senators Barau Jubrin from the North-West (Kano); Orji Uzor Kalu from the South-East (Abia); Sani Musa from the North-Central (Niger); Godswill Akpabio from the South-South (Akwa Ibom), Ali Ndume from North-East (Borno) and Abdulaziz Yari from the North-West (Zamfara).


Others are David Umahi from the South-East (Ebonyi) and Adams Oshiomhole from the South-South (Edo).



Umahi and Oshiomhole are first timers in the Senate who have never had legislative experience at any level of democratic governance.



And it’s almost a legislative taboo to drop their names among ranking senators in the contest for the Senate President. But then, Nigeria is a country of anything can happen.


President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the cynosure of all eyes. He is both the bride and the toast and everyone now courts him. Last week, his new abode, the Defence House, Abuja, was a Mecca of sorts with many aspirants for the Senate President, House Speaker and allies visiting for the purpose of lobbying him. This is understandable.


Everyone in the APC, which has the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, believes Tinubu, as president-elect, should have a say in who emerge as the National Assembly presiding officers as they ultimately will work together should the next administration be successful.



Godswill Akpabio and Bola Tinubu
Godswill Akpabio and Bola Tinubu



Apart from the Senate President and House Speaker, other offices up for grabs and to be zoned to the various regions are Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, House Majority Leader, Senate Chief Whip, House Chief Whip, Senate Minority Leader and House Minority Leader.


And as the South-West and North-East have taken the slots of the President (Tinubu) and Vice President (Senator Kashim Shettima) respectively, the next two top offices in the country should go to the four other geo-political zones – North-West, North-Central, South-East and South-South – on the grounds of equity and fairness.


Not satisfied with lobbying Tinubu in Abuja, some of the aspirants for the 10th National Assembly top offices, it was learnt, trailed the president-elect to Port-Harcourt, Rivers State capital, late last week, to plead their causes for endorsement.



One of such aspirants, according to Sunday Vanguard sources, was Akpabio, who is a ranking senator and the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.



Hardly had Tinubu landed in Port Harcourt on the invitation of Governor Nyesom Wike to commission some projects, it was learnt, than Akpabio announced his presence.


At the State Banquet organized in honour of the president-elect, Akpabio was said to be one of the speakers and he reportedly used the opportunity to regale the audience with the story of the 41 senators-elect who came in solidarity with him pay to pay obeisance to Tinubu.



He allegedly said:


“They (senators-elect) are the ones that are going to evaluate your policies. They are the ones that are going to advise on a daily basis and they are the ones that are going to show you total loyalty to bring peace to Nigeria.



“Standing before you here are senators from NNPP, senators from Labour Party, senators from PDP, senators from YPP and senators from APC.


“Mr. President, we have 109 senators but 60 of us were supposed to be here tonight. We did not have enough aircraft to convey everyone.”



Behind-the-scenes condition


Meanwhile, sources said that what happened in Port Harcourt was choreography.


News Week Nigeria learnt that Akpabio was trying to play smart to a condition said to have been given to him by Tinubu to attest to his popularity for the Senate presidency contest.


It was gathered that Tinubu asked Akpabio to convince him by producing 60 senators whom he had said had endorsed him for Senate President.



Meanwhile, Sunday Vanguard could not ascertain at the weekend if Akpabio’s reported display met the condition the president-elect had set for him to guarantee an endorsement even as sources said Tinubu may be neutral in the battle for the jostle for the 10th National Assembly principal offices so that he won’t appear to be taking sides, a situation that could be counter-productive should candidates he didn’t favour eventually emerge.


North/South dichotomy case


In a related development, News Week Nigeria understood that many northern senators-elect are insisting that the Senate President should be zoned to the North should there be zoning by the APC for the National Assembly principal offices.


We learnt that the northern senators-elect are basing their argument on the understanding that Nigeria operates on the basis of the North/South dichotomy and that since there are three arms of government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – and the South already has two of the three – the President and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) (CJN Ariwoola who hails from the South-West, same zone as Tinubu), the next most important office in the land, Senate President, should go to the North, and not South-East or South-East, as it is believed in many politically informed quarters.


Those in the camps of Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State, and Jibrin are said to be pushing this narrative but it is said to be gaining ground among many senators-elect. It wasn’t also clear at the weekend whether the narrative will get the understanding of the APC leadership and Tinubu to the extent of accommodation in the anticipated zoning arrangement.




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