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Akpabio Reaches Out to Aggrieved Senators-Elect

He said the senate under his leadership would have a complete control over its affairs without being confrontational with the executive.

The Senator-elect representing Akwa Ibom North-west and the nominee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the position of the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Sunday, disclosed that he has commenced extensive reconciliatory move as well as an enlightenment campaign to pacify aggrieved lawmakers, following the decision of the party.

The former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who said this during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos, also vowed that if elected the Senate President, the 10th Assembly under his leadership would pursue pro-business legislations in order to create more conducive environment for businesses to thrive so as to support the ailing economy.

Also on Sunday, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, pitched his support for the ‘Stability Group’ rooting for the emergence of Akpabio and Senator Barau Jibrin as President and Deputy President of the 10th Senate.

Akpabio, who was accompanied to the media briefing with his supporters known as the ‘Stability Group,’ including the party’s nominee for Deputy Senate President, Jibrin, said presently, he has secured the support of about 69 senators-elect ahead of voting next month.

The Stability Group comprises the 69 senators-elect who had already appended their signatures for the emergence of Akpabio and Jubrin.

He recalled that following extensive consultations with the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other party stakeholders, the National Working Committee of the APC recently reached an agreement on a formula that resulted in the zoning of the Senate Presidency to the South-south geopolitical zone, and the Deputy Senate Presidency to the North-west geopolitical zone.

“There are several contenders for the Offices of the President and Deputy President of the Senate. I, however, believe that Senator Jibrin and I possess the required ranking, status and deep legislative experience.

“These qualities are of competence, vision, patriotism, a deep love for our country, and a thorough understanding of the relationship between the executive and legislature.

“I believe that my uncommon public sector experience and track records spanning over 24 years where I served at the State Executive Council as Hon. Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs, Governor of a State, Senate Minority Leader, and in the Federal Executive Council as a Honorable Minister, provides me with the unique experience required to drive the legislative agenda of the 10th National Assembly.

“We are both (with Jibrin) committed to working tirelessly to ensure that the Nigerian Senate serves as a true voice of the people. We are also deeply committed to promoting transparency and accountability, values that we believe must be at the heart of everything that is done in the Senate.

“We are however not oblivious of some angst that this zoning arrangement may have caused some aspirants. For this reason, we are embarking on an extensive reconciliatory move, as well as an enlightenment campaign to brief relevant stakeholders on details of our prospective legislative agenda.

“We have recently emerged from an extremely competitive electioneering period and expectedly some nerves are still frayed. The joint leadership partnership between Senator Jibrin, myself, and the Stability Group of Senators seek to ensure unity and peace in our country.

“We are confident that in the end we will reconcile all in the overriding interests of our dear nation. We will ensure that the members of the 10th Assembly put aside their differences and focus on activities that are for the common good of the Nigerian people,” the former Akwa Ibom Governor said.

He expressed belief that the legislature must operate independently, without undue interference from the executive branch.

This, he said, means that both arms of government must respect the principles of separation of powers, and not infringe on each other’s constitutional responsibilities.

According to him, the country is at crossroads as untenable macroeconomic indices such as high inflation rate, high level unemployment, low revenues, and low domestic manufacturing resulting in an over dependence on imports are some of the challenges the Senate must work in tandem with the executive to address.

He stressed that a multifaceted approach to solving these challenges was required, saying that the Senate must lead the charge in contributing to the growth of the domestic economy. “We shall ensure pro-business legislation to create a more conducive environment for businesses to thrive must be designed and implemented; regular and extensive oversight of government spending to ensure that public funds are being used effectively and efficiently must be conducted; and we must provide legislation that enables support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and helps to reduce the barriers to entry for small businesses.

“These categories of legislation as well as others that promote the growth of the economy, and help create a more prosperous and vibrant nation must be our priority,” he added.

Akpabio listed some of the priorities of the 10th Assembly to include the provision of quality, stable and inclusive leadership at the National Assembly with a view to providing robust legislative intervention and making relevant laws for good governance; galvanise a united and virile support base that will provide credible government policies for the advancement of good governance, rule of law and progressive National Assembly and sustain the January to December budget circle.

Some others are to develop and promote innovative bills that would enhance revenue generation while exercising effective oversight function on government expenditure; support members in bill and motion drafting, presentation of legislative arguments, legislative briefs and general understanding of parliamentary practices and procedures and support members to develop Legislative Agenda, Constituency work-plan (CWP) and Integrated Representation Model.
In his remarks, Jibrin said he decided to go with the decision of the party because of national interest.

According to him, Akpabio remains the most experienced among the elected senators from the south-south.

 Also, Senator Ali Ndume, who is the Director General of the Akpabio Campaign, said the choice of Akpabio, “is the right thing to do at this time.”

“If it is about the Senate President, all of us are qualified, but we have to look at the interest of the party, the country and that of the institution.

“This was the basis and our president-elect decided on Akpabio as the preferred candidate,” he added.

In a related development, Sanwo-Olu has pitched his support for Akpabio and Jibrin
The Governor said he aligned himself with All Progressives Congress (APC) zoning decision, having read the legislative agenda being pushed forward by the Akpabio-led team to raise the bar of lawmaking and readiness to collaborate with the incoming administration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

According to a statement, Sanwo-Olu openly endorsed Akpabio and Jibrin when he received members of the Stability Group in a consultative visit at the State House in Marina.
The senators-elect’s visit to the Governor came a day after members-elect for the House of Representatives visited Sanwo-Olu for consultation.

Sanwo-Olu said the party nomination process to pave the way for election of senate leadership was in order, stressing that Akpabio’s team possessed the political credentials and leadership qualities to bring about uncommon transformation in our country.

The governor urged the senate leadership nominees to make purposeful legislation as their priority, while maintaining harmonious working relationships with other arms of the government without compromising the Red Chamber’s independence.

He said: “Having discussed extensively and listened to all the plans and agenda presented by the Stability Group led by Senator Akpabio, I believe it is proper and appropriate that we, in Lagos, give them our official endorsement.

“This is a project for the stability of the country, which will benefit Nigerians, especially the people who elected these distinguished lawmakers-elect. They are committed to working harmoniously with the executive and this will bring about a win-win for all our citizens and for democracy.

“We are encouraging other lawmakers-elect who are yet to be on this team to fall in line. I will also appeal to the Stability Group to continue their consultation and collaboration, and not to take anyone for granted.

“They have personally assured me that they will make the senate leadership as inclusive as possible. The diversity they are preaching is reflected in the number of the senators-elect on the team; it is not one party. The membership cuts across all the parties that are represented in the National Assembly.

“I believe the incoming 10th National Assembly will be about great possibilities and shaping a new course for the nation. Given the outstanding profile and experience Senator Akpabio and his team are bringing to the table, I believe there will be new standards and new legislative records will break. I will only urge the incoming senate leadership to surpass whatever achievements recorded by the 9th senate.”

Akpabio, a former Senate minority leader representing Akwa Ibom North-West, described Tinubu as “God’s own choice” for the country’s leadership, saying the incoming administration required the support of dynamic legislative leadership to work together in order to achieve promises made to Nigerians.

The former Akwa Ibom Governor pledged he would deploy a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and national approach to lawmaking if he is elected senate president. He said the senate under his leadership would have complete control over its affairs without being confrontational with the executive.

 Akpabio said he and his deputy would work with the Tinubu administration to make the country better and bring legislation that will support development.

He said: “The Stability Group of the 10th senate is made up of men and women of integrity. We came today to show ourselves to the Governor and also solicit for his support. He has not only thrown his support behind us, he has shown so much hospitality. “Today, he stood before the cameras to endorse my humble self to become the president of the 10th senate and Senator Jibrin as Deputy Senate President-designate.

“We are not taking this support for granted. This team has senators-elect from different political backgrounds and parties; we are determined to ensure collaboration and support for the incoming administration of Tinubu whose presidency is a nationalistic project that will bring positive development to Nigeria.

“We want him to replicate what has happened in Lagos in the last 24 years of democracy to cover the rest of the country.

 “Particularly, we are challenged by the economy; we want to see serious improvement in the IGR of the nation to enable us to repay our loan facilities. We want to see more foreign direct investment in the country. We will support him through favourable legislation to ensure Nigeria remains investment-friendly and a business destination in Africa.”

Akpabio urged Sanwo-Olu to reach out to his governor colleagues on behalf of the group in order to pave the way for smooth legislative transition in the National Assembly.

Obinna Chima