National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday failed to reach a consensus on who succeeds David Mark as Senate President.
APC had called the meeting scheduled for the International Conference Center in Abuja to, to map out ways to ensure that a single candidate emerges for the exalted seat.
But the meeting did not hold even as no reason was offered.
While some APC members claim the postponement was due to Thursday’s plenary session, others are alleging that one of the camps promoting its candidate caused the shift in date.
The race is now between Senators Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) and Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North), the two front-runners who are not ready to blink,
Presently, APC is considering whether to conduct a primary for the candidates or allow the lawmakers pick the President of the 8th Senate themselves.
However, the ruling party is at crossroads as it does not want to lose members confidence and loyalty.
Already, there is a split, with each side backing either of the two camps.
About two weeks ago, Dino Melaye, representing ‘Like Minds Senators’, had thrown its weight behind Saraki.
According to him, “The issue of National Assembly leadership is about integrity, competence, discipline and leadership skills and not about fixing of candidates just for mere horse-trading.
“Our stand is about electing a senator who eventually becomes the chairman of National Assembly and relates with the executive on behalf of Nigerians, fellow Senators and the National Assembly as an institution.
“Furthermore, leadership of the National Assembly is about the Senator that has the wherewithal to stabilize the legislative institution, working with the executive and judicial arm of government to be effective and perform to their optimal capacity.
“In addition, we are aware of the fact that all Senators from the North Central zone has taken a firm position that they are only interested in the office of the Senate President which has been earlier zoned by the National Working Committee of our party and we are also aware that North Central Senators have resolved to abide by the resolution of the zone on a single candidate and anything short of this is an attempt to jeopardize the collective interest of the zone”.
“Of the 59 Senators of the APC, 35 of us present here today hereby reaffirm our collective commitment and resolution to support the candidature of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as the Senate President of 8th Assembly.”
But yesterday, Senators-elect, under the aegis of Unity Forum, presented a five-point resolution to the APC.
The forum is canvassing for a Lawan/(George)Akume ticket for Senate President and Deputy.
The resolution presented to the National Chairman of the party in Abuja in the presence of some national leaders, was signed by 35 senators-elect out of the 40 members of the forum.
A letter signed by the group contains signature of Senators Barnabas Gemade, Abu Ibrahim, Olusola Adeyeye, Abdullahi Adamu and Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
The five-pint resolution are that “Senator Ahmed Lawan shall be the highest ranking APC Senator and George Akume the second highest ranking APC Senator in the 8th Assembly.
“This is so, as Ahmad Lawan has spent 16 years in the National Assembly, while Akume has so far spent eight years in the Senate.
“The next behind the duo in terms of ranking, who is also in the contest for the Senate Presidency, is Senator Abubakar Saraki, who has spent only four years in the Senate.
The forum noted that since the North-West zone, which gave APC the highest votes, is represented by the President and the South-West, which gave APC the second highest votes, is represented by the Vice-President, the North-East zone, which gave APC the third highest vote, should be allowed to produce the Senate President while North Central Zone, which gave APC the fourth highest produce the Deputy.
Continuing, “There were three identified voting blocs that ensured the victory of APC in the elections: the Hausa-Fulani bloc, the Yoruba bloc and the Northern minorities bloc.
“Thus, the Hausa-Fulani bloc is represented by the President in this government, the Yoruba bloc by the Vice President.
“It has, therefore, become appropriate and equitable that the Northern minorities’ bloc be given the positions of the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President, to be occupied by Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume, respectively, who are of Northern minorities.”
“Thus, Senator Ahmad Lawan is the most qualified to be the Senate President, while Senator George Akume is the most qualified to be the Deputy Senate President of the 8th Assembly in accordance with Rule 3 Order (2) of the Extant Senate Standing Orders which states as follows:
“Nomination of Senators to serve as Presiding Officers and appointments of Principal Officers and other Officers of the Senate or on any parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of Senators.
“In determining ranking, the following order shall apply: Senators retiring based on number of times re-elected, Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives, and Senators elected as Senators for the first time.”
Meanwhile, the criteria reportedly set by the APC leadership favours Lawan.
The NWC was said to have agreed that the Senate President must come from the geopolitical zone with the second highest number of votes, after the North-West.
The NWC also agreed that the next Senate president must not have any corruption charges hanging on his or her neck and should be one of the most ranking senators in the current Fourth Republic.
Although Saraki may not be able to entirely boast of meeting one criterion, his insistence on becoming the nation’s number 3 citizen may push luck his way.