…..APC NWC decides on zoning formula


By Felix Nwaneri

APC despite being in majority in both Houses of the National Assembly seems to be in serious trouble right now as there are plans to scuttle the party’s plans to have its own way as to who leads the National Assembly.
A plot by the opposition Peoples Democratic  Party (PDP) to influence the emergence of a new Senate leadership, when the 9th Senate is inaugurated in June has unsettled the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). New Telegraph learnt that the plan, being championed by the outgoing Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is said to be working on a fall-back position, having lost his reelection bid for the Kwara Central senatorial seat, is aimed at installing a former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje as president of the 9th Senate.

Goje, presently represents Gombe Central on the platform of the APC and was re-elected on the party’s platform during the February 23 National Assembly elections. He hails from the North-East, but the party’s leadership is yet to decide on which zone will produce the president of the 9th Senate.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling party, which is said to have been unsettled by the plot, is to meet today to decide not only the Senate leadership, but on other positions in both houses of the National Assembly.

Besides the APC leadership, the plot is also said to have unsettled members of the APC caucus in the Senate as well as incoming senators. However, the various organs of the party are said to have been activated to counter the Saraki group. An APC Senator-elect from the South-West, who confirmed the plot, said: “Yes, they want to use Goje to repeat the APC/PDP experience of 2015.” Also being mobilized are state governors and leading party stalwarts to ensure that the leaderships of both chambers comprise identified loyalists.

A source, who spoke with our correspondent on the issue, said Saraki had planned to take a shot at the Senate plum position, but unfortunately, he was defeated at the poll by APC candidate, Dr. Oloriegbe Ibrahim. Against this backdrop, the Senate President is said to be relying on some influential members of the Red Chamber, comprising principally PDP senators and some members of the APC caucus to cause an upset like he did in 2015, during the inauguration of the 8th Senate.

He is said to be working on the 2015 template through which he emerged as Senate President with the candidate of the opposition PDP caucus, Ike Ekweremadu, as Senate Deputy President. Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara had then emerged as Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, respectively, against the choice of their party (APC) through an alleged power deal they struck with the leadership of the PDP. The Saraki group, it was gathered, met last week at his Maitama residence, where 35 PDP Senator select resolved to influence the emergence of a new Senate leadership.

“The group’s plot is to ensure that it works with and supports any APC senator that is amenable to its proposal to accommodate the PDP caucus in the Senate leadership, particularly retaining the position of Senate Deputy President. To this end, the group is said to have come up with three separate plans, preparatory to the horse-trading that is expected to characterise the race for the position of Senate president.

“The group’s Plan A is to sponsor one of them for the position of Senate President in the event that two or more members of the APC caucus present themselves for the position on the floor of the Senate. “If it becomes difficult for the group to activate Plan A, it was agreed that it should support Senator Danjuma Goje, who, according to members of the group, is more amenable.

The belief is that with Goje, the PDP could nick the position of Senate Deputy President. “The group’s Plan C is to support Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who they believed would not act to adversely affect their interests should their plans A and B fail,” the source said.

He further revealed that the group resolved not to allow the duo of Senators Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa) and Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) to succeed Saraki as they see them as chore loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari. Meanwhile, Lawan, yesterday, assured Nigerians that the incoming Senate would partner with the executive to work for the common good of the people. Lawan, who stated this in Lagos at an interactive session with journalists on his bid for the Senate presidency, said the upper legislative chamber under his leadership, will make government work through legislative interventions.

His words: “Whether you are APC, PDP or Young Progressive Party (YPP), we have the same people to serve. So, we will work to ensure that we achieve and attain that desired unity within the chamber.

“There will be equity and fairness in our affairs and I am sure that once we are able to unite around national interests, we will contribute meaningfully to governance.” On why he thinks that he is most qualified for the job, Lawan said he is first a loyal party man and will bring to bear close to 20 years legislative experience if elected as the president of the 9th Senate. The lawmaker, however, promised to respect the decision of the leadership of the APC should the party decide to zone the position away from the North-East, where he hails from.