As speculations are rife that Nigeria’s president elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has favoured South South and South east for the senate presidency, he is reportedly favouring former Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio.
Though Tinubu had previously said he had no anointed candidate, multiple sources at a meeting attended by Tinubu after returning from France stated that Senator Akpabio had been anointed as the candidate for the Senate President while Barau was pencilled for the Deputy Senate President.
According to sources, Akpabio was said to have done a lot for the party including shelving his presidential ambition for Tinubu when he stepped down for him at the APC primary elections.
One of the sources said, “Akpabio was favoured because of his contributions to the party including stepping down for the president-elect during the primary elections.
“He was also said to have delivered parts of South-South to the president-elect during the February 25 elections. The pairing was deliberate; Barau would likely get the position of the Deputy Senate President.”
Another source who was at the meeting noted that two South-West lawmakers, Bamidele and Adeola were also lobbying for the positions of Senate leaders.
The source said, “ Senators Adeola and Bamidele are lobbying for the position of the Senate leader which is usually given to the geo-political zone of the president. Also, Gbajabiamila and Faleke are pushing hard for the Chief of Staff position.”
Speaking after his meeting with the president-elect, Akpabio noted that his chances of being the Senate president were very high.
He said, “The issue of the Senate Presidency is a function of senators. I have had the privilege of serving the Senate before as a minority leader and any senator should be ready to avail himself if his colleagues so wish for him to serve as a Senate President.
“The chances for me to be Senate President are very high because my colleagues already know my track record in terms of governance, legislative business and the wide range of experience that I have in politics.”
Former Nasarawa state governor, Tanko Almakura, noted that all the aspirants were eminently qualified and had paid their dues, but Akpabio, he said, had several times stuck out his neck for the party.
He said, “Amongst them is someone (Akpabio) who has been there when it matters. He worked for APC, he did everything to ensure the stability of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and that person also decided to leave a very important position within the Senate to support the APC. That person is now going for the position of the Senate President; I think he has paid his dues.”
Supporting the decision to zone the NASS positions, Gemade said, “Everybody expects that there should be zoning whenever a new government is about to be formed.
“I believe that the National Assembly expects that zoning would be done so that they can have a spread of the leadership positions. So, it is important that there is zoning and there will be zoning.”
The political rendezvous is coming on the eve of an important meeting of the National Working Committee members where the debate on zoning is expected to take priority.
Recall that the APC National Vice Chairman for North West, Mallam Salihu Lukman had on Wednesday given Adamu a one-week ultimatum to convene an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council.
Lukman, who made the call in an open letter to Adamu warned that failure to summon the NEC meeting would compel him to seek a court injunction to enforce compliance in line with the provisions of the APC Constitution.
The PUNCH further gathered that barring any last-minute change of plan, the national leadership of the APC would release its zoning plan for leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly this week.
According to sources privy to the APC stakeholders’ meeting, the ruling party is considering Christians for critical positions in the next National Assembly, which is billed for inauguration in June.
Sources privy to the discussions at the meeting disclosed that the APC NWC, Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, stressed the need to assuage hurt feelings over the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket fielded by the ruling party in the 2023 general elections.
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