The uproar associated with the zoning arrangements released by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress for the presiding officers positions of the 10th National Assembly has put the anointed candidates on their toes as they now go after the opposition political parties for support. Sunday Aborisade reports
Aspirants for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly who had been anointed by the ruling All Progressives Congress and the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, are not taking the backing of their leaders for granted.
Rather they have been going from one area to another looking for support both within and outside their political party.
The anointed aspirants had travelled to most parts of the country to meet with governors, top traditional rulers, religious leaders and other critical stakeholders in the country.
Last Tuesday, the anointed aspirant for the position of the 10th Senate President, Senator Godwill Akpabio, met with the Forum of the APC Non Serving Senators who hosted him and the party’s anointed deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin in Abuja.
The meeting which was convened by Senator Basheer Lado had over 78 former senators in attendance.
Akpabio on the occasion, reconciled two estranged political gladiators in Benue State, Messrs George Akume and Barnabas Gemade.
He created a scene when Akume, who is the current Minister of Special Duties, entered the venue by asking him to embrace Gemade, who was already seated, in the full glare of the people in attendance amidst applause.
Akpabio pledged to make the 10th Senate, the Parliament that would work for the good of all Nigerians regardless of the political, religious or ethnic background.
The aspirant also said he would enrich the capacity of the lawmakers by involving former senators as consultants to standing committees of the Senate.
According to him, “All the committees of the Senate ought to be enriched with the consultancy of the non serving senators to create a future for the youths. We are determined to make that happen.”
Jibrin on the occasion, described the endorsement of the non serving senators as the second most important after that of the APC National Working Committee.
He said, “As former lawmakers, you already know our pedigree having known the institution of legislation very well.
“This has proven what we have been telling our colleagues to be patient. We have a tradition of seniority.
“If we want to maintain the credibility of the institution, we must respect it’s values. Surprised that first comers wanted to become the Senate President when he doesn’t even know what it takes to move a motion.”
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the Governor of Cross River State, who served in the Seventh Senate, Ben Ayade, noted that the independence of the legislature was guaranteed in the Constitution but that it was derived from the Executive.
He said, “ Leadership takes time to mature, let us support the nominee of Mr. President.
I always support somebody with capacity and I know that Akpabio has the capacity let us move away from the emotional calculation on what my zone is going to get.
“It isn’t just enough to endorse him but we must approach our brothers who are still insisting that they must contest. Let us show them love. It is love that drives away hate.”
Lado, the Convener of the Forum, said, “As critical stakeholders, we assure the leadership of the APC, the President-Elect, the Vice President Elect, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Barau Jibril of our unflinching commitment and support towards the actualization of this objective.
“We therefore respectfully, once again appeal to other aspirants to step down their ambition in the interest of national unity, peace, national stability of Nigeria and party cohesion.”
On Wednesday, Akpabio, in company of Jibrin also paid the leadership of the New Nigeria Peoples Party and the Labour Party, special visits in Abuja.
They were there with the Stability Group, made up of some senators who are working on the Akpabio- Barau Jibrin ticket for the leadership of the 10th Senate project.
Akpabio told the National Working Committee of the NNPP led by its acting national chairman, Abba-Kawu Ali, that the Stability Group was determined to secure the support of leadership of the opposition parties, ahead of June 13 inauguration.
He said, “Membership of the Stability Group cuts across party lines and we are doing extensive consultations.
“We have never had a situation where we have eight political parties like we are going to have in the 10th National Assembly.
“In the House, we are blind to party affiliations and that’s why we are moving to meet our leaders. I thank you for receiving us.
“I want to thank your national leader, Kwankwaso for the meeting he is having with our president-elect, Bola Tinubu and I hope the meeting will be fruitful, for the progress of the nation.”
Also speaking, the Director – General of the Akpabio Campaign Organisation, Ali Ndume said his Group has secured signatures of 69 members backing the aspiration of Akpabio- Jubrin ticket.
He said, “We want you to support this stability group we have 69 senators-elect who have given us support.
“It is not about Akpabio or Jibrin. What the country needs now is stability and that’s why we called the group Stability Group.”
In his response, Acting National Chairman of the NNPP described Akpabio-Jubrin as a formidable ticket and assured the duo of the support of the lawmakers on the platform of his party .
According to him, “I know you are a formidable team. As governor of Akwa- Ibom State, we know how you performed. We know you are competent. So, we are supporting you based on your record. We will support your ambition to be the President of the 10th National Assembly. I urge your team not to fail Nigerians, especially the youth in the area of employment.”
While addressing members of the Stability Group at his party’s national secretariat, national chairman of Labour Party, Julius Abure, commended the Stability Group for extending hands of fellowship to oppostion parties’ leadership.
He said, “It is usually uncommon for political party in power to consider accommodating the opposition. It is an indication that our democracy is growing. I want to say very clearly that in most of our engagement with our senators, we haven’t given them any directives. We don’t want to be dictating to them on where they should go. Two of my senators are here. Ireti Kingibe isn’t here but we shall whisper to her.
“We need a vibrant legislature to promote our democracy, we hope yours will be a departure from what we have. Every government policy must be such that will affect our people positively. The Constitution in chapter two states that welfare of the people and security shall be primary responsibility of government. My appeal is that we give attention to welfare of Nigerians and the leadership of the Senate can help to make that a national priority.”
The Labour Party chairman however restated his party reservations about the outcome of the last general elections.
He said, “We aren’t comfortable with the processes leading to the victory of your candidate. This isn’t the forum to ventilate that but I need to put that on record. I need to correct the impression that we are supporting Asiwaju. For us, it is a no go area but we have no doubt in Akpabio’s capacity to lead the Senate.”
The aspirants have also started lobbying individual senators through personal contacts and irresistible offers redeemable immediately and promises after they would have been elected.
Most of the rooms in the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel in the heart of Abuja had been fully booked for two months by the aspirants who ensured that majority of the elected members of the 10th Senate relocate to Transcorp Hilton Hotel for easy accessibility and meetings.
Newsmen observed that the senators-elect are in the third, fifth and ninth floors where the major aspirants have their campaign secretariats. Akpabio and Yari have their campaign secretariats at the 9th floor.