APC’s Proposed Primary For Senate President | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


APC’s Proposed Primary For Senate President

Posted: May 25, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ignatius Okorocha,  Abuja

The Senators elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have resolved at last to conduct primary election for the major contenders for the Senate Presidency before the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly having jettisoned the idea of zoning to file such vacancies.

Lawan  Saraki

Lawan                                                        Saraki

The decision to conduct primary election for Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno), Senator Bukola Sarki (APC Kwara), Senator George Akume (APC Benue) and Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe) came as a result of the breakdown of zoning formula for the presiding officers of the National Assembly.

The 5-man committee set up by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to come out with the zoning formula of National Assembly principal offices and other major positions in President Muhammad Buhari administration recently submitted its recommendations to the party leadership but there was no deliberation and ratification of the report as the committee was expanded and asked to make further consultations with relevant stakeholders. Governors-elect and President-elect are among the people to be consulted.

Though the detailed report of the 5-man committee led by Segun Oni, APC Deputy National Chairman, South-West was not made public it was discovered that the committee recommended zoning the office of the Senate President to the North Central Geo-Political Zone and Deputy Senate President to the North East Geo-Political Zone. But there was fear that the committee was being influenced by some powerful people in the party leading to the breakdown of the zoning formula.

The details of how the primary election will be conducted for the main contenders is still very sketchy but a source said the 60 APC Senators will elect the President of the Senate and Deputy Senate President from the four contenders including Senator Ali Ndume, Senate Committee Chairman on MDGs, Senator Bukola Sarki, Senate Committee Chairman on Ecology and Environment, Senator George Akume, Senate Minority Leader and Senator Ahmed Lawan, Senate Committee Chairman on Public Account.

The details of how the primaries will be conducted is not also very clear but a source who does not want his name on print said that the winner and runner-up will be endorsed as Senate President and Deputy Senate President if they are from different geo-political zone. But in situation where the runner-up and the winner are from the same geo-political zone, a fresh primary will be conducted for the contenders who are from the same zone in order to get a senator who will be endorsed as APC candidate for Deputy Senate President.

On whether the process will not generate further controversy, the source maintained that it will not create any crisis as all the contenders will sign an agreement to abide by the outcome of the primaries before the election will take place. Two of the four contenders who emerge victorious from the primaries will contest for the Senate President and Deputy Senate President when the 8th National Assembly will be inaugurated in first week of June.

Meanwhile, the struggle for the Senate Presidency by the main contenders from both the North Central and North East Geo-Political Zones still continues as many of them intensified efforts to lobby the Senators-elect.

The pro-Sarki/Ndume group, led by Senator-elect, Dino Malaye (APC Kogi), has so far mobilized about 70 senators for the duo before the recent development.

Pundits had argued that if election into the office of the Senate President was to take place today, without external interference, Senator Bukola Sarki (APC Kwara) and Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno) will take the day. Sarki and Ndume had agreed to support each other should APC zone the office of the Senate Presidency to the North-Central or the North-East respectively.

Those in support of Sarki/Ndume group are of the view that if APC zones the office of the Senate Presidency to the North Central, it should be Senator Bukola Sarki and if it is zoned to the North East, it should be Senator Ali Ndume. The argument in favour of the duo is that they are the only ones in the race for the Senate Presidency who are capable and without god-fathers.

Earlier on, Akume and Lawan had also reportedly agreed to work together in the race for Senate Presidency. What is working against Akume and Lawan is the issue of godfatherism. The lawmakers are afraid that the National Assembly will be controlled by the outsiders instead of the legislators.

In a situation where those with god-father emerge as presiding officers, they will need to consult their god-fathers before major decision including appointment of standing committee chairmen. This is an issue most of the legislators consider unacceptable. Senator George Akume and Ahmed Lawan are allegedly being backed by Senator Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of APC as well as Senate President David Mark. But now that the zoning of presiding officers of the Senate has broken down they will face their colleagues during the primaries.

Why speaking on the possibilities of a credible persons emerging as Senate President and Deputy Senate President, a Senator who does not want his name on print said that though external forces will try to manipulate the primaries so that their anointed candidates will emerge but the senators will reject such moves.

The senator said that though some of the contenders with strong financial muscle have opened offices in Transcorp Hilton and Nicon Luxury Hotel in Abuja with the aim of lobbying senators-elect, it will be difficult to play on the intelligence of the lawmakers.

“Let me tell you that senators are not like Biblical Esau who sold his birthright for red pottage. It is true that lawmakers spent a lot of money during the last general election and some of them may even be tempted to collect money if offered to them by the desperate contenders for the exalted seats but this can do little or nothing in the primaries as they cannot vote against their conscience.

“What of a situation where you collect a token and vote for somebody who will emerge as Senate President and at the end of the day the views of lawmakers on critical issues are always ignored. Have you not sold your birthright?

“It is unfortunate several ignorant people during elections exchange good road, hospital and even their future  with just a bag of rice or little amount of money.

“I am telling you that many people who taught they have money and can buy the senators in the race for the Senate Presidency will be disappointed. I am glad that APC has got it right again by organizing primaries for the main contenders.”

Unlike the North-Central which has produced the senate president, the North-East has produced neither a Nigerian president nor a senate president.

Other factors being considered in favor of North-East include adverse effect of insurgency. The zone is the most devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency and one of the poorest region on earth according to the United Nations Report. The UN assessment is based on access to water, education, electricity, healthcare service, infrastructure etc. Boko Haram activities in the three North East States of  Borno, Yobe and Adamawa had led to the death of thousands of people while millions were displaced. About 15 local government areas from the three states mostly from Borno were captured by the Boko Haram sect.

Except Lagos State, Yobe and Borno are the only states in Nigeria that have been in opposition party since 1979. In 1979, NPN was the ruling government at the centre while Lagos was controlled by UPN; Yobe and Borno were being controlled by GNPP.

Those from the North East are also of the view that if justice and fairness is to prevail, now that opposition party takes over the national government,  North East particularly Yobe and Borno should be compensated. This also agrees with the saying that “a patient dog eats the fattest bone”

In the presidential election, North East produced the largest results next to North West where President-elect, Gen. Muhammad Buhari hails from. North East also produced 13 senators in the March 28 parliamentary election and took over Bauchi and Adamawa from PDP. With the death of Senator Ahmed Zanna (APC Borno Central) on May 16, 2015 they are now 12.