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N/Assembly inauguration: Akpabio, Yari, Abbas, Wase slug it out today

Barring any last-minute change, 469 federal lawmakers will, today, elect four presiding officers of the 10th National Assembly. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has issued a…

Barring any last-minute change, 469 federal lawmakers will, today, elect four presiding officers of the 10th National Assembly.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has issued a proclamation letter for the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in line with the 1999 Constitution.

In the Red Chamber, 109 senators will pick The Senate president and deputy Senate president; while 360 House of Representatives members will elect the House Speaker and deputy speaker.

The race for the Senate presidency and speaker’s seat has been intense, with major contenders intensifying campaigns a few days to the inauguration.

The two contenders for the Senate Presidency are former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio and former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.

President Tinubu and the APC leadership have picked the duo of Akpabio and Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North) as preferred candidates for Senate president and deputy, respectively.

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu from Abia State dropped his bid for the Senate presidency and formed an alliance with Yari to contest for the deputy Senate president’s position.

The camps of Akpabio and Yari are each claiming to have secured the support of a majority of senators to win the Senate presidency.

In the House of Representatives, the front runners are Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna), the party’s preferred candidate and Ahmed Wase (Plateau), the immediate former deputy speaker.

Abbas and Benjamin Kalu are favoured by APC for speaker and deputy respectively.

Others still in the speakership race are Aminu Sani Jaji (APC, Zamfara), Sada Soli Jibia (Katsina) and Miriam Onuoha (Anambra).


Fight’ over endorsement 

Akpabio’s camp yesterday claimed to have secured the endorsement of more senators, including the 15 from the South East, a claim Yari’s group dismissed.

The director-general of Akpabio’s campaign group, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno), said 15 senators-elect from the South East met with Akpabio, where they reportedly endorsed his candidacy.

The Akpabio camp also claimed to have gotten the support of Ahmad Lawan, president of the 9th Senate, who, according to the group, promised to deliver the former Akwa Ibom State governor after meeting with President Tinubu.

Ndume further said former governors from the North and senators-elect, who hitherto refused to support Akpabio, have also made a U-turn.

However, a senator from the South East debunked the claim of Akpabio’s endorsement by the South East Senate Caucus.

The lawmaker said Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, requested a meeting with the senators, and minutes to the parley at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, Akpabio came in.

“He addressed us and requested that we take a group picture with him. Little did we know that he would use the picture as a weapon of propaganda,” he said.

Another South East senator, who urged lawmakers to disregard the purported endorsement, expressed surprise that Akpabio and his supporters were using the group pictures taken at the meeting as propaganda tools.

“Governor Uzodinma set a trap for us by calling us for a meeting and after a while invited Akpabio in to greet us. Yari/Kalu ticket is on course. No going back,” the senator said.


I’m still in the race – Wase  

A major contender for House Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase, debunked rumours that he has withdrawn from the race.

The secretary of Wase for Speaker Media Team, Rev. Dominic Alancha, in a statement yesterday, said there was no iota of truth in the claim.

He said Wase “is not only in the race but the most favoured by his colleagues to win the seat.”

He stressed that Wase was not considering withdrawing or stepping down for anyone as he did not enter into the race for mere showmanship but to win.

Daily Trust reports that in a surprise move on Sunday, two leading contenders, Mukhtar Betara (Borno) and Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (Plateau) stepped down for Abbas, further strengthening the support base of the APC consensus candidate.

Since the adoption of Abbas as the APC consensus candidate, there has been stiff opposition from the other aspirants which prompted the creation of the G-7 to challenge his candidature.

However, while the opposition to Abbas’ candidature intensified, various channels were opened for consultations to douse the tension and garner more support.

The move, spearheaded by the Joint Task-10th Assembly, a coalition of the eight political parties that won seats in the incoming 10th House of Representatives, resulted in a series of endorsements by lawmakers across parties which swelled by the day.


Security beefed up at National Assembly 

Security has been beefed up in the National Assembly and environs ahead of today’s inauguration.

Our correspondents observed yesterday an increased presence of security operatives in the parliament.

It was observed that a detachment of over 100 operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps was deployed to the National Assembly.

Detachments of police and DSS operatives have also been stationed within and around strategic locations of the National Assembly.

As part of measures to control entry into the National Assembly, the management has issued special accreditation tags to all those that have any business to do with the inauguration.

Many journalists covering the National Assembly had a hectic time going through the accreditation process to obtain special tags that would allow them access to cover the inauguration.

It was learnt that security will be watertight today as only those that have been duly accredited and issued the tags would be allowed to access the complex for the inauguration ceremony.


Governors backing Akpabio – Makinde 

Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, said all state governors are supporting the aspiration of Akpabio for Senate president.

Makinde said this at a post-inauguration special thanksgiving service organized by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Fathers of Faith held yesterday at Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan.

He said, “We already have a president that is of Islamic faith. We have a vice president that is of the Islamic faith. I am saying it publicly, all the governors in Nigeria came together and we said we will support the choice of Senate president who is a Christian from the South South region of Nigeria.

“I will be at the National Assembly tomorrow (Tuesday) though I wasn’t elected as a senator and I have never been elected as one. I will be there with my other colleagues. We will go and ensure that the principle of fairness, justice and equity prevails in the selection of the president of the Senate.”


Akpabio will become next Senate president –  Uzodinma 

Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has expressed confidence that Akpabio will emerge as the next Senate president.

He spoke with State House reporters yesterday after a meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Uzodinma, who is also the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), said the committee set up by the president to resolve the controversy over the forthcoming leadership race had achieved substantial progress in collaboration with the outgone Senate president, Ahmad Lawan.

He assured that Lawan would work for the emergence of the preferred candidates of the party.

“You must have heard the president in his wisdom organised a small technical committee to help coordinate the process of tomorrow’s election, which by my position of the chair of the Progressive Governors Forum, I am chairing, he said.

“We have done so much work to the extent that God has blessed our efforts that the majority of the senators-elect are now in sync with the position of the party.”

When asked if Nigerians should expect that Tuesday’s inauguration would be a workover for Senator Akpabio since he said all lawmakers were in sync with the project, Uzodinma replied: “By the efforts we have put in place, it is our hope that tomorrow, it might even be a consensus event.”

On what he would do to pacify those who were not on the same page with him, he said: “In the business of politics not everybody will be on the same page. But here, we have over 90 per cent of people supporting the choice of the party and I believe that even those that are not on board, I assure them that I will carry them on board.”

When told that victory seemed to be on his side with over 90 per cent support, Akpabio said: “I won’t say anything but I will say we leave it to God almighty. But I must thank the chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and the governor of Imo State and former governor of Kano State and all former governors in the APC and all the governors in PDP and other political parties.

“All the political parties we have visited have shown so much support in having one Nigerian National Assembly, one Nigerian Senate and a senate that will work for the good people of Nigeria. That is my pledge and I assure you that it shall be uncommon.”


By Abdullateef Salau, Itodo D. Sule, Balarabe Alkassim, Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja) & Adenike Kaffi (Ibadan)

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