Deji Elumoye and Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The race for the leadership of the Ninth National Assembly is getting keener as the frontline aspirants to the Senate presidency and House of Representatives speakership extended their consultations to other critical stakeholders that would guarantee them victories.
The Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is the anointed candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Senate presidency has commenced consultations with the 22 governors of the ruling APC, THISDAY has learnt.
Also, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and APC’s anointed candidate for the position of the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday met with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House to seek their support.
On his part, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, who is vying with Lawan for the Senate presidency, has met with the national leader of APC, Chief Bola Tinubu, in Saudi Arabia to seek his support.
THISDAY gathered that Lawan has already met with four governors from the North Central states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Kebbi.
It was learnt that the Senate leader who visited the governors in their respective states in the company of the governor of his home state, Yobe and Senator-elect, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, would visit the remaining 17 governors from next week.
THISDAY gathered that the visit to the APC governors, which was at the instance of Gaidam, is aimed at galvanising the support of senators-elect through their governors.
Sources privy to the consultations told THISDAY that Gaidam, apart from speaking on the telephone to his colleagues, also met with them in Abuja during the meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) where Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, emerged the new NGF Chairman.
The APC governors, it was also learnt, gave Gaidam their commitment to ensure the election of Lawan as the next Senate president.
They committed themselves to meet again with senators-elect from their respective states on the need for them to support Lawan.
Gbajabiamila Woos PDP Lawmakers
Gbajabiamila also Thursday took his campaign for the speakership to the PDP caucus in the House and pleaded for their support for his aspiration.
The PDP caucus had on Wednesday met other APC contenders, including Hon. Segun Odebunmi (APC, Oyo); Hon. John Dyegh (APC, Benue); Hon. Mohammed Umar Bago (APC, Niger); Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia); and Hon. Jide Olatunbosun (APC, Oyo), who were also seeking the support of the opposition lawmakers.
The PDP Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, said the meeting was intended to avail the PDP members information on what the aspirants planned to achieve if they emerged winner.
“Everybody came to tell us why they want to be speaker; what they are going to do to improve the House and the relationship among the members. That is the whole essence of the meeting.
“All the candidates who appeared before us said they know they cannot run the House without the minority parties, especially the PDP, against a statement credited to someone to that effect.
“We don’t have any preferred candidate yet; we are going to sit as a caucus, deliberate on it, analyse it and then come up with our position. I wish we could strike a deal but no deal yet,” he said.
The Director-General (DG) of the Femi Gbajabiamila Campaign Organisation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano), told journalists that an understanding is expected to be reached with the main opposition party within two days as negotiations are ongoing.
According to him, “On the issue of apportionment of responsibilities at the Ninth Assembly, we requested the PDP to raise a committee to meet with the APC caucus in the next 48 hours to cede some positions to the PDP in the spirit of unity.
“The reality is that after winning the election, it is again, one House. So, we have confirmed to the PDP that we will run an inclusive House and we have commenced a negotiation to see the kind of positions to cede to the PDP members.”
Goje Meets Tinubu in Saudi Arabia
THISDAY also gathered Thursday that Goje representing Gombe Central, and former two-time governor of Gombe State, was in Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj, where he met with Tinubu in Medina on Tuesday.
The senator who is believed to be eyeing the Ninth Senate presidency is yet to formally declare his ambition.
He was said to have met with Tinubu who was also in Saudi for Umrah, after the breaking of fast.
Although details of their meeting were sketchy, THISDAY gathered that Senator Abu Ibrahim (Katsina South) was with Tinubu when Goje met with the former Lagos State governor.
A former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, who is also a contender for the same position, has also arrived in Medina, for Umrah.
THISDAY gathered that Ndume who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday might met with Tinubu.
Also yesterday, the Deputy Senate Presidency ambition of Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South) received a boost with a Coalition of Northern youths organisations supporting his candidature.
The youth bodies, which include Northern Youths Council, Northern Youths Anti-corruption Frontier, Arewa Youths Development Forum, Northern Youths Assembly of Nigeria, Network for Northern Nigeria Youths and Fulbe Global Youths Network, said in a statement that Gaya’s emergence as Deputy Senate president would benefit the country.
The statement by the Coordinator of the coalition, Alhaji Aminu Saleh, said Gaya’s election would ensure equity and fairness among geopolitical zones.