•Aggrieved aspirants set to unveil unity list tomorrow
•Yari pledges support for new administration
•Zoning, endorsing aspirants undemocratic, says group
•Wase adamant as Doguwa urges other contestants to step down
Sunday Aborisade and Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Bola Tinubu is scheduled to meet with all senators-elect today at the presidential villa, Abuja, to discuss national issues, especially the election of presiding officers during the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on Tuesday, June 13.
But THISDAY gathered that Senate Democratic Caucus, a group of four aggrieved aspirants to the principal positions, might on Friday announce its own consensus candidates for the positions of Senate President and Deputy Senate President.
Nonetheless, a leading contender for the 10th Senate residency, Abdul-Aziz Yari, pledged to work with the administration of Tinubu in the interest of the country if elected Senate President.
In a related development, a pro-democracy group, Coalition for Parliamentary Democracy, in a statement yesterday by its National Coordinator, Dr. Menike Johnson, described the zoning of principal positions in the National Assembly as undemocratic.
Yet, Deputy Speaker of the ninth House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), said he remained in the race for Speaker of the incoming 10th House of Representatives.
Tinubu’s invitation to the senators was conveyed in an official letter from the State House to the Senate, and was read on Wednesday by Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over the plenary.
The letter explained that the meeting between the lawmakers and the president would take place at the State House Conference Centre, State House, Abuja, on Thursday, June 8 at 2pm.
The president had initially fixed separate meetings between the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition lawmakers-elect for Sunday and Monday. The meetings were rescheduled because the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would not allow their members attend.
The senate president, Ahmad Lawan, observed proceedings from the floor of the chamber yesterday, when he allowed his deputy, Omo-Agege, to preside at plenary. Lawan explained that he sat with his colleagues because he was trying to get used to being a floor member, when the 10th Senate would be inaugurated.
Aggrieved Aspirants Set to Unveil Unity List Tomorrow
Senate Democratic Caucus (SDC), comprising four aggrieved aspirants, might announce their consensus candidates for the positions of Senate President and Deputy Senate President, tomorrow. The aspirants were Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara West), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), Osita Izunaso (Imo West), and Sani Musa (Niger East).
They formed an alliance against Senator Godswill Akpabio, who was nominated by APC for the position of Senate President, and Barau Jibrin, who was chosen for Deputy Senate President.
The SDC, THISDAY gathered, might agree on who would be Senate President and Deputy President after their meeting on Friday, while the remaining two contenders would be given juicy committees.
Speaking on the development, Chairman of SDC, Senator Abdul Ningi, confirmed that the four aspirants were almost concluding discussions on the matter.
Ningi said, “The discussions are still on-going but we are very much together. We know our strategy and we are not to disclose it yet.”
But Yari, at a different forum, pledged to work with the administration of Tinubu in the interest of the country if elected Senate President.
The former governor of Zamfara State said, “The senate, which I aspire to lead, shall be completely democratic, open and serve only the interest of Nigerians. The senate, under my leadership, will be firm, transparent, purposeful and ensure a cordial working relationship with the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led executive to deliver his vision for a secure, united and prosperous Nigeria.
“I want to assure you that the National Assembly, which we seek to lead, will be stable, proactive, listen to and pursue the genuine aspirations and yearnings of Nigerians.”
Zoning, Endorsing Aspirants Undemocratic, Says Group
A pro-democracy group, Coalition for Parliamentary Democracy (CPD), yesterday, described zoning of presiding officers’ positions in the 10th senate as undemocratic.
The group, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Dr. Menike Johnson, stated, “Zoning and external endorsements are undemocratic and only promote mediocrity, incompetence and breeds a corrupt and rubber stamp parliamentary leadership that cannot serve the interest of Nigerians.
“CPD commended senators-elect for their support for Senator Abdul’aziz Yari, who has exhibited the required capacity, passion and political will to run a legitimately elected senate presidency that will unite the nation, provide constructive partnership with the executive in the overall interest of Nigerians.
“It also cautioned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against the imposition of a senate president, noting that such will only worsen the division in the party and deny it the ability to maintain a healthy relationship with its lawmakers.
“The Coalition for Parliamentary Democracy has been watching the contest for the senate presidency with keen interest. We have also noted the trajectory, demonstrated capacity and acceptability of the two major contestants in the race: Senator Abdul-Aziz Yari and Senator Godswill Akpabio.
“CPD, in tandem with other pro-democracy organisations, insists that those interested in the office of the senate president should rather marshal their agenda to Nigerians.
“Senators-elect should not rely on retrogressive and sectional arguments of zoning and external endorsements, which is undemocratic, promotes mediocrity, incompetence and breeds a corrupt and rubber stamp parliamentary leadership that cannot serve the interest of the people.”
Wase Adamant as Doguwa Urges Other Aspirants to Step Down
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), insisted he would remain in the race for Speaker of the incoming 10th House of Representatives. Wase stated this after House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano), pleaded with other aspirants to step down for the APC consensus candidate, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas.
Doguwa stated that, as one of the contestants for Speaker, who stepped down, he was calling on others still in the race to step down for the APC consensus candidate to ensure a smooth transition.
Doguwa said, “It is in this light, I want to urge members like me, who are still in the ring contesting, to, please, see the light of reasoning to also step down in the interest of a seamless transition from the leadership here to the next assembly. I am doing this because I was part of the members, who first of all started contesting for the speakership position.
“Mr Speaker, I am by all standards qualified to be Speaker. But I want to believe that speakership is always an act of God, it is given by God, by the will of the members of the House of Representatives. We cannot have two speakers at the same time.”
However, Wase, who spoke immediately after Doguwa, said as a democrat, who believed in contest, he was determined to continue in the race till the end.
He added that his contest was in pursuit of a prophecy by the former governor of old Plateau State, the late Solomon Lar, who predicted his coming to the House of Representatives and becoming Deputy Speaker and possibility of his speakership.
Wase said, “Of course, I want to appreciate my political leaders, among whom I would say is Solomon Lar, who, when I was contesting in 2007, I went to and he prophesied the number of times I will come to this assembly and I will tell this crowd and to the world.
“He said, I will come to the assembly in the number of times and prophesied even the number of leaderships that I will attain and the deputy speakership, and he prophesied next when I return, and I believe I will be Speaker and I believe, Insha Allah, I will be Speaker of the green chamber.”