Tinubu: Why I Am Rooting for Lawan, Gbajabiamila

• Says it’s in national interest, obligatory to obey party directive    
• PDP to vote as a bloc
EJIOFOR ALIKE in Lagos and Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, yesterday explained his support for the candidacy of Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, for ninth National Assembly leadership, saying it is in compliance with the directive of the ruling party.
The APC had nominated Lawan and Gbajabiamila for the presidency of the Senate and the speakership of the House of Representatives respectively and enjoined all its members-elect in both chambers to support them when the National Assembly is convened in June.
But a couple of members-elect had kicked against the party’s directive, insisting that they would exercise their rights to contest the positions even as this development tends to enhance the chances of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to determine which of the contending APC members-elect would mount the saddle of leadership.
Indications at the weekend were that the PDP members-elect would vote as a bloc in a strong bid to frustrate the APC’s determination to have its choice candidates emerge winners.

Tinubu in a statement by his media office yesterday in Lagos said his unalloyed support for Lawan and Gbajabiamila was to help the APC achieve its objective, explaining that it was obligatory for him to obey the party’s directive.
He said contrary to insinuations in certain quarters that he was doing so to prepare the ground for his presumed presidential ambition in 2023, his action was motivated to ensure that the party has a firm grip of both chambers in order to help the executive arm controlled by the party to have easier passage of legislations and policies required for the effective implementation of its programmes.
According to him, all his mind, heart and efforts are focused on backing the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari in achieving their shared vision of a flourishing economy and a prosperous people, saying he would have committed a terrible blunder by navigating the president’s position.
Tinubu said those who cast aspersions at him were in reality bucking against the stated position of Buhari.
He urged rumour-mongers to court greater discipline and wisdom, adding that there is no action a person can take that constitutes a political guarantee as to what may come four years from now.
The APC national leader also dismissed the claim that having allies in the National Assembly leadership positions will greatly enhance someone’s presidential ambitions as spurious.
“Tinubu is neither inclined, nor sufficiently naïve, to take his eye off the present in the futile attempt to peer through the thick fog that is the future,” he said.
He added that the National Assembly positions are important to the fulfillment of the president’s agenda, stressing that a painful lesson was learned in this respect in the last four years.
“With the Senate leadership usurped by regressive elites, that chamber constituted a brake on progress and good governance. The Senate leadership, and to a lesser degree the House leadership, stymied APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious, reactionary and self-interested legislation on the nation,” he explained.
Tinubu accused the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, of hijacking the budget process these past four years.
“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them. Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly,” he added.
In the statement titled: ‘Tinubu Focusing on the Issues of Today: Tomorrow is the Master of Itself,’ the former Lagos State governor pointed out that in 2015, Saraki bulldozed his way into the Senate presidency.
Tinubu said: “He planted himself at the apex of legislative power. But his actions as Senate president showed a man devoid of compassion for the average Nigerian. All he cared for was power and position.
“Soon he will be deprived of both. House Speaker Dogara has fared only slightly better. Occupying these positions is not a guarantee of future success. It is only a guarantee of present duty.”
He added: “Politics requires jockeying and maneuvering for influence to get the right people in the right positions. To be beneficial, politics must be tied to the greater purpose of governance such as with President Buhari’s goal to reform the national economy for the good of all Nigerians.
“In supporting the party and the president, Tinubu has shown his commitment to achieving the president’s goals. Nothing more should be read into it.”

Senate Leader’s Group Mobilises Senators-elect on Phone

Meanwhile, the Senator Ahmad Lawan for Ninth Senate President Group has intensified its consultations with senators-elect across party lines through telephone calls at the weekend.
This is coming in the wake of the 43 PDP senators-elect’s agreement to work as a team towards the election of presiding officers of the ninth Senate in June.
Sources close to Lawan, a strong contender for the 9th Senate presidency, told Thisday that the Lawan group made telephone calls during the Easter break to the senators-elect about the project at hand.

A source, who is a ranking APC senator from North-central zone, said the Lawan group used the Easter break to sensitise the senators-elect about the ambition of Lawan.
His words: “We worked on the phone and chatted individually with our colleagues about the Lawan project and we had fruitful discussions and reasonable feedback.
“As you may know, most of the senators-elect are back to their various senatorial districts for the Easter break and it is just ideal for us to ensure that the Lawan for 9th Senate president is kept in the front burner through being in constant touch with our colleagues and thus we have done successfully through telephone calls in the last three days.”
THISDAY further learnt that through the phone calls to senators-elect across party lines, the Lawan group was able to get useful feedbacks from the legislators-elect about the viability of the project.
The source added that the group was not taking the public endorsement of Senator Lawan for granted.
“We’ll continue to engage all stakeholders, including opposition party senators-elect with a view to getting the anticipated support from our fellow senators-elect.”
In a related development, the leadership of PDP has said its senators-elect should remain focused ahead of the June inauguration of the ninth Senate.
The Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP had last week met its senators-elect in Abuja on the need for the legislators-elect to have sincerity of purpose in the ninth Senate.
A ranking PDP senator from the South-east told THISDAY that the party leadership told the legislators-elect that their rank should be formidable.
The senators-elect were reportedly told not to allow the ambition of any ranking senator or senators for the office of Senate president distract them from the onerous task ahead of them.
“We were told in clear terms that we should remain as one as PDP senators-elect and should not involve ourselves in any politicking whatsoever for the ninth Senate leadership but to be a solid opposition group ready to work for a vibrant upper legislative chamber,” he said.
The ranking senator also confirmed that Lawan and former Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume, had reached out to him as well as other PDP senators-elect about their ambition to be ninth Senate president.
“We will continue to listen to all gladiators as we have information that one or two other ranking Senators may also join the race. You know we still have about six or seven weeks before the Ninth National Assembly is inaugurated and anything can still happen before then,” he further said.