Struggle for Senate Presidency Intensifies, Lawan Meets APC Govs

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  • Goje in talks with Ndume
  • Gaya declares for deputy Senate president

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

As part of his ongoing consultations with stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over his interest in the Senate presidency, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has met with four APC governors in Abuja, THISDAY has learnt.

This is coming as two other ranking APC senators- Mohammed Goje and Ali Ndume, who are also eyeing the position of Senate president have commenced discussion on the possibility of working together.

It was gathered that Lawan’s meeting with the governors was held on Tuesday night at the instance of the Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam, who is a senator-elect.

The meeting, it was learnt, was aimed at drumming support for Lawan’s ambition at the level of the Progressive Governors’ Forum.

Investigation revealed that the consultative meeting, which took place at a guest house in Aso Drive had in attendance the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, who is also a senator-elect; Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and his Adamawa State counterpart, Mohammed Bindow.

THISDAY learnt that Geidam, who is governor of Lawan’s home state, Yobe, was said to have called the meeting to solicit necessary support for the actualisation of Lawan’s ambition to lead the 9th Senate.

A source privy to the meeting told THISDAY that Lawan used the forum to solicit the backing of APC governors and by extension the senators-elect in the 22 states controlled by the ruling party for his ambition ahead of the inauguration of the Senate in June.

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the governors had fruitful discussions with Lawan and assured him of their support since he is the choice of the party leadership.

Goje in Talks with Ndume

Meanwhile, two other ranking senators- Mohammed Goje and Ali Ndume, who are also eyeing the Senate presidency have commenced discussion as regards their ambition.

THISDAY learnt that the duo met earlier in the week at the third floor office of Goje at the Senate complex in Abuja where they resolved to work as a team for the coveted office.

It was gathered that the two lawmakers agreed to consult widely with stakeholders on their interest and may meet again before the week runs out.

Ndume yesterday still insisted that he would contest for Senate presidency despite the party’s directive.
Speaking to THISDAY on phone, Ndume emphasised that it is within his constitutional right to contest, adding: “I am not disrespecting the party, but people should be allowed to elect their leaders.”

His words: “I am still in the race till the end. I am not disrespecting the party; it is within my constitutional right to contest. People should be allowed to elect their leaders, If Lawan wins, I will be the first to congratulate him.”

Group Storms N’Assembly to Canvass Support for Goje

In a related development, a group of youths from North-east yesterday stormed the National Assembly, urging Goje to declare publicly for the position of Senate president without any further delay.

The group, led by Mr. Bello Ambo, from Bauchi State, said neither the endorsement of Lawan by the national leadership of APC nor the expression of interest by Ndume, should prevent Goje from throwing his hat into the ring.
According to him, as far as public service experience is concerned, Goje stands far above the other two having controlled a whole state for eight years between 2003 and 2011 and has been in the Senate since then with the required parliamentary experience.

“Position of Senate president requires administrative and parliamentary knowledge enormously possessed by Goje as against the two other contenders from the zone,” he said.

When reminded that the ruling party has taken a final decision on who should occupy the position with the endorsement of Lawan last week, Ambo said senators-elect are mature people who can decide who their leader should be and should be allowed to do so.

He said: “Our party (APC) is a party of the people and not few leaders. The party should allow the people in this case, senators-elect, to decide whoever they want as their leader in whatever capacity.

“For us the Goje Support Groups from the North-east for the presidency of the 9th Senate (GSGNE), Senator Danjuma Goje is the right man for the job. He has the required experience as tested administrator and high ranking lawmaker.

“He is a man of the people and a senator with all what it takes in carrying others along across party lines and most importantly , a party man to the core who will fit perfectly into the next level agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

Gaya Declares for Deputy Senate President

Meanwhile, a ranking APC senator and former governor of Kano State, Senator Kabiru Gaya, yesterday declared his intention to contest the position of deputy Senate president.

Gaya, a fourth-time senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, said he was vying for the position being the most ranking senator from the North-west geopolitical zone.

According to him, the zone ought to produce the deputy senate president since the zone gave the highest vote to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general election.

Gaya also said there were strong indications that the APC leadership may zone the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the South-west, deputy speaker to North-central, while it had already zoned the position of the senate president to the North-east.

He said: “If the six zones are accommodated in the sharing formula for the National Assembly leadership positions, four of them contributed tremendously to the election of Mr. President.

“The South-west, which has now got the position of the Speaker, North-east, which has now got the position of Senate president, North-central has the position of deputy speaker.

“Considering the zoning arrangement, it is clear that the North-west has been left behind and I am a ranking senator from the North-west. That means the deputy Senate president position should go to North-west.”
He said Nigerians should rise above ethnic consideration and ensure that the most qualified persons are elected into positions instead of employing sentiments to determine appointments.

Gaya declared that there was nothing wrong with the northern part of the country producing the president and deputy president of the Senate, “neither will it be out of order for Buhari to come from the same zone with the DSP.”