Senate Presidency: Tension as APC picks candidate today

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The criteria recently announced by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on how the Senate President in the 8th Senate will emerge is generating ripples among senators.

A source said Wednesday night that the meeting between the APC leadership and senators-elect where a consensus on the issue of the Senate President was to be resolved may have been shifted.

One of the two camps was said to have pressed for the shift because of the insufficiency of the support it was expecting to show to the party leadership.

The APC NWC, at its meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday night, had listed certain criteria which the next Senate president must possess.

Some of the criteria stipulated that the party’s candidate for the post must come from the geopolitical zone with the second highest number of votes after the North-West during the Presidential election held on March 28.

It also said that the next Senate president must not have any corruption charges hanging on his or her neck and should be one of the most ranking senators in the current Fourth Republic.

A senator privy to the meeting said the leadership of the party was mandated to, within three days, present the most eligible aspirant as consensus candidate for the post based on the listed criteria during inauguration next week.

The two leading contestants are Senators Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) and Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North).

Two groups, “Like Minds Senators” and the “Senate Unity Forum” who were supporting the candidature of Saraki and Lawan respectively, had claimed to have secured the endorsement of enough numbers of senators to win the race.

While the Saraki camp compiled a list containing the names of 34 APC senators- elect, the Lawan loyalists claimed that 40 APC senators-elect had endorsed the Yobe senator as their consensus candidate.

The development is generating serious confusion because there are just 59 APC senators-elect expected to be inaugurated in the 8th Senate following the death of Ahmed Zannah (Borno North) last month.

Some of the Senators-elect who commented on the matter, expressed fears that the decision of the APC to use criteria, considered strange to the rules of the Senate and constitution of the country, could be counter-productive.

The party had planned to announce its preferred candidate between Lawan and Saraki during a meeting with the senators-elect today, in Abuja, but those who reacted to the issue urged the leadership of the party to allow the most popular aspirant to emerge through a due process that would be free, fair, credible and generally acceptable to all concerned.

In his reaction, Coordinator of the Like Minds Senators-elect, Dino Melaye, cautioned the NWC against too much interference in the affairs of the Senate because the upper legislative chamber is guided by rules.

Melaye said: “The NWC is there to offer advice and not to determine those who will contest leadership positions on the floor of the Senate. The constitution of Nigeria and the rules of the Senate are clear on how a Senate president could emerge.”

Further investigations revealed that the imposition of a consensus candidate on the APC senators-elect might rub the party of the position because the opposition lawmakers might take advantage of the division to present a candidate.

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