The battle for the leadership of the incoming 9th Assembly deepens on Thursday following indications that the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan had intensified his consultations and concluded meetings with lawmakers of the South South and South East.
Sources close to the campaign team of the Senate Leader said that the one one one consultations has now touched every zone of the country. With the camp exuding confidence of its support base.
It was gathered that the lawmaker, is ensuring “all round consultation” this time unlike the experience in 2015 when he remained within the cocoon of the party and eventually lost the seat to incumbent Senator Bukola Saraki.
The All Progressives congress (APC) had on March 25 announced Senator Ahmad Lawan as its choice for the Senate Presidency of the 9th Senate.
Though the adoption has been met with resistance from his predecessor in office, Senator Ali Ndume, the party had continued to push for Lawan since.
But the camp of Senator Ndume said on Thursday that The adoption of Senator Lawan and House Leader. Fem iGbajabiamila as party candidates for the 9the Assembly leadership was not with the blessing of President Muhammau Buhari.
A source close to the Ndume campaign said that the President Muhammadu Buhari has so far remained unyielding to the subtle pressure from the party to get him to endorse a particular candidate for the Senate presidency and Speakership of the 9th National Assembly.
According to the source, the President has decided to play the statesman in the race so far and that the president was happy at the decision to zone the Presiwency to the North East.
The president is maintaining his well-known position of non-interference, that has remained unchanged, contrary to a sponsored report portraying him as meddling in the election of the leadership of National Assembly, ” the source stated.
The source said that BUHARI will leave the National Assembly members to sort out themselves, “Especially as the zoning arrangement has been effected. He sees himself as the leader of the Party and father of all senators from that zone. So it’s is difficult for him to pick one of his sons ahead of the other.”
The source added that Buhari was not planning to prevail on Senator Danjuma Goje and Senator Ali Ndume, both of whom have indicated their interest in the Senate presidency alongside the adopted party candidate, Ahmed Lawan, President Buhari will not do so because he has no preference among the three.
“There is not going to be any such meeting because the president, historically, has never interfered in an electoral process at any time and at any level, right from his time in Congress of Progressive Change (CPC). In fact, he never interfered in his own election. As he has said before, he belongs to everybody and he belongs to no particular person. And this case of the Senate cannot be an exception because we know him to be a man of his word,” the source said.
He added: “And by the way, the presidency, through its spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, had issued a statement long ago that the president will not interfere in the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly. Mr. President’s position was further reinforced by Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly, Ita Enang.
“Even the pronouncement nominating Ahmed Lawan, Buhari has not interfered with. He knows what the party is trying to do but he has maintained his stance not to directly interfere.
“However, if among the contestants they decide through consensus, that’s a different thing. So this idea that the President will call the three contestants and ask them to drop their ambition for Ahmed Lawan may never happy. That is not his style,” the source said.
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The source added: “what the party is doing out there now could further infuriate the senators, for example, there is desperation to amend the rules. There have been sponsored protests to demand the amendment of Senate rules, especially the rule on secret voting. That is forgetting that it is derived from the Constitution and the electoral Act. The Constitution, in Section 50, says the Senate shall elect its leaders from among themselves. Mr. President will not join anyone to subvert the constitution, hence his stand on this matter.
“But you see, he is aware some persons are dropping his name here and there. That is the burden of leadership,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the much awaited declaration of Senator Danjuma Goje for the Senate Presidency of the 9th Assembly has again been deferred.
A source close the Senator said that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations is putting final touches on the 2019 budget which is due to be passed next week.
“I can confirm that the Gombe Senator is still in the race for the Senate presidency of the 9th senate. He has been busy with the job of appropriations committee and as soon as that is over, he will make his stance known, ” the source said