The two major camps contesting the Senate Presidency have intensified push nine days to the inauguration of the 10th Senate, Daily Trust reports.
The inauguration has been scheduled for June 13.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is expected to issue proclamation letters for the inauguration of the parliament in line with the 1999 Constitution.
The two contenders for the Senate presidency are a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio and a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.
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Tinubu and the APC leadership had picked Akpabio and Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North) as preferred candidates for Senate president and deputy, respectively.
But the choice rattled other contenders for the plum job, including Yari; Senate Chief Whip; Orji Uzor Kalu and Imo-West senator-elect, Osita Izunaso.
Yari, Kalu and Izunaso, after protesting the zoning formula without the desired result, insisted on going ahead to contest the seat against the party’s choice.
Tinubu meets opposition lawmakers-elect today
Ahead of the inauguration, President Tinubu will today meet with the senators-elect who are of the opposition party.
An invitation to the opposition senators said Tinubu would be meeting with the senators-elect at 3 pm today.
The meeting, it was gathered, was convened to enable the president to drum support for the candidates of the party for the leadership of the Senate.
A meeting of the president with senators and House of Representatives members-elect, who are of the All Progressives Congress (APC), scheduled for last night, was postponed.
Camps laying claims to majority
Meanwhile, the two camps are claiming to have secured the required number of lawmakers to win the Senate presidency.
To win the election, candidates require a simple majority of the 109 senators. On Thursday, the two major camps hosted lawmakers-elect at different locations.
While the Akpabio camp hosted senators-elect at Transcorps Hilton Hotel, Abuja; Yari’s group met with the lawmakers at Destination Hotel, Wuse 2.
One of the leaders in Akpabio’s camp said they had consolidated their lead with 65 senators-elect. He said the attendance was not limited to members of the APC, adding that it was a fruitful session.
“We had in attendance 65 senators-elect including former National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, immediate past governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi (APC, Ebonyi) and a ranking lawmaker, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia, APGA). An elder statesman, Segun Osoba was also in attendance,” he said.
But a source in Yari’s camp said the turnout of lawmakers-elect was highly impressive at their meeting.
He said, “Ranking senators like Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), former Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other senators-elect from APC, PDP and LP attended the meeting.
“The meeting convened by the Senate Democratic Caucus (Yari’s camp) had in attendance 57 senators-elect while about 16 others sent in their regrets.
“We are going to take the final decision on the whole matter on Tuesday and Nigerians would know that the current zoning arrangements done by the APC had collapsed.”
We’re in alliance with ex-Zamfara gov – Kalu, Izunaso
Kalu and Izunaso had said they were considering allying with Yari’s camp and had intensified lobbying to boost their chances ahead of the inauguration, but talks on whom the camp will finally present as candidates are yet to be concluded.
“We are in serious talks. Yes, I cannot deny it,” Kalu told reporters last Tuesday of his proposed alliance with Yari.
“We have very strong sponsors and we will unveil that on June 13. We are capable of representing ourselves – Yari-Kalu, Kalu-Yari. We will not disappoint Nigerians.
“Who is going to be the Senate President and who is going to be the Deputy Senate President? It’s what we don’t know now,” he said.
Also, Izunaso, during a visit to NUJ National Secretariat on Saturday, confirmed that he was in talks with Yari’s camp and said the party’s zoning arrangement has been jettisoned.
“The part is calling for better and further consultation,” he told newsmen.
Let’s respect president, party’s choice – Barau
The party’s choice for deputy Senate presidency, Jibrin Barau, at Thursday’s meeting, described the rumor of his joint ticket with Akpabio being jettisoned by President Tinubu as wishful thinking by those who are scared of the ticket.
He said, “The APC is the largest party in Africa. It is a respected party whose words are its bond. There is nothing like the president and the party has backed out of their support for us. The APC is a very serious and respected party.
“The alleged withdrawal of support by the President only exists in the minds of those who are yet to come to terms with the position of the party on the national assembly leadership is final and sacrosanct.”