The Senate Majority Leader and All Progressives Congress candidate for the Senate presidency in the 9th National Assembly, Ahmed Lawan, has reached out to some Peoples Democratic Party governors to brighten his chances of winning the number three position.
This is contrary to the ruling party’s earlier position that it would not need the PDP for its candidate to emerge winner in the race.
Lawan’s adoption by the ruling party’s National Working Committee has divided the party, with Senators Ali Ndume (Borno) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe) insisting on contesting the post despite the APC’s position.
The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, had shortly after the NWC’s adoption of Lawan, said the ruling party did not need the PDP lawmakers’ votes to clinch leadership seats in the National Assembly.
He cautioned against any power sharing deal with the opposition party.
The APC said all committees in the Senate would be chaired by the APC senators.
But Lawan met with three PDP governors during the week to seek their support.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that he met separately with Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as well as Imo State governor-elect Emeka Ihedioha in Abuja where he sought their support for his Senate presidency bid.
A source, who was part of his meeting with Tambuwal on Wednesday, claimed Lawan complained about Oshiomhole’s comments on the PDP, which he said had adversely affected his chances of winning the support of some returning PDP senators-elect.
It is however not clear whether the Yobe lawmaker made any commitment to a power-sharing deal with the PDP.
“It was just to reassure PDP stakeholders of his readiness to work and cooperate with them, nothing more,” the source said.
Spokesman for the Lawan-for-Senate President Campaign Organisation, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the Senate Leader met with some governors.
Abdullahi, who is also the spokesperson for the Senate, described the meetings with the governors as “successful”.
However, he did not give details of the meeting or disclose the identities of the governors that Lawan met with.
He said, “We have spoken to many governors, including Kashim Shettima (of Borno State) when he visited Lawan’s campaign secretariat .
“Many of the governors we spoke to were pleased with our agenda for the 9th Senate and they all pledged their support.”
Abdullahi at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday said Lawan would carry along all PDP senators if elected.
Abdullahi had said, “l want Nigerians to look at those of us who are the actors and take note of what we say. That is the most important thing. I want to submit and assure Nigerians that by the special grace of God, if Senator Ahmed Lawan gets there, he will run an all-inclusive government because the Senate is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The notion that the PDP would be excluded should be withdrawn forthwith. What we are planning to do is to have a Senate that will be for all senators.”
According to him, many opposition senators pledged their support and promised to vote for Lawan as they are convinced he will not sideline them.
He said, “I can confirm to you that on the day of inauguration Lawan will garner more than two-thirds majority support from members-elect from both APC and PDP.
“We are talking to our colleagues; we are working on the people who will vote on the day of inauguration.”
But spokesman for Ihedioha, Chibuike Onyeukuwu, denied any meeting between his principal and Lawan.
Both Tambuwal and Okowa could not be reached for comments as of press time. But the PDP on Friday said it had yet to decide whether its governors would support Lawan.
The PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, told one of our correspondents on Friday that the party still had some months of consultations before it would take a stand.
He said, “The PDP definitely has its own joker, and as a responsible party, will look at all options.
“We still have a few months of horse-trading and consultations to weigh our options and adopt the best democratic practice.
“This is politics and the party will definitely take a stand at the appropriate time.”
APC NWC yet to zone Speaker, Deputy Speaker’s positions, others
Meanwhile, the APC NWC has yet to meet on the zoning arrangement for the leadership positions in the National Assembly, SATURDAY PUNCH has learnt.
Shortly after announcing Lawan as the party’s choice for the Senate presidency, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the zoning arrangement for the remaining positions in the Senate and House of Representatives would be announced later.
Investigations by one of our correspondents on Friday, however, revealed that the NWC had yet to meet on the matter.
An NWC source said the party had so far slowed down its activities to allow party chiefs take deserved rest after the 2019 general elections.
He said apart from the zoning arrangement, there were other pending issues that the NWC would address once it reconvened.
“We have not seen any notice yet but I know that the NWC will soon meet because there are other issues to be addressed, apart from the zoning arrangement,” he said.
Although, despite the zoning arrangement has not been made public, interested zones, individuals and groups have expressed their interest in the available positions.
But Issa-Onilu told one of our correspondents, “There is no delay. We all know that there won’t be any change in the leadership of the National Assembly until June, and we are still in April.
“What is important is that we have started early and we do not have to conduct our affairs in the open.
“When we finish, we will announce. The important thing is for us to do the right thing, and we are doing it.”
Meanwhile, the North-East Forum of APC State Publicity Secretaries has supported the zoning of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the South-East.
The forum made its position known in a statement by its coordinator, Aaron Artimas, on Friday.
The forum said all political zones should be given equal participation as envisioned by the founding fathers of the country.
The statement read, “We wish to align and identify with our counterparts in the South-East in their agitation to zone the post of the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives to their region.
“The South-East APC public relations officers have already issued a statement endorsing Nkeiruka C. Onyejeocha as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“A four-time member of the House of Representatives, Onyejeocha represents many shades of national opinion, especially the much-talked-about gender issue.
“Put together, with her rich political background as a grassroots politician, a former local government chairman and an effective legislator, she is eminently qualified to represent her zone and to serve the country as a whole.
“We are not unaware of the perceived or unofficial zoning of the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives to the North-East and the South-West respectively. While this policy remains a political decision, we still believe that the ultimate decision to this effect, remains a function of members of the National Assembly.
“As party officials, we are not opposed to the presumptive position taken by the national leadership of our party, but, we strongly believe that no decision is exhaustive or final.”
The forum said the South-East was out for better participation and representation in the present political dispensation to enable the party to grow in the region.
It added, “It is for this reason that we hereby declare our solidarity with the South-East in their quest to shift the leadership of the House of Representatives to the zone.
“It will please us greatly, if the national leadership of our party and indeed other leaders of the party will take a second look at its perceived position in this regard.”