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Following Contest For Senate Presidency, APC Mobilises Governors to Unite Akpabio, Yari Loyalists

Akpabio scored 63 votes against Yari’s 46 votes. Yari said he could have won if there was no ‘gang-up’ against him led by President Tinubu.

Apparently worried that the aftermath of the recent keenly contested election between a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and a former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Abdullaziz Yari for the position of the Senate President may polarise the supporters of the two former governors, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has mobilised the governors to reconcile their loyalists in the Senate, THISDAY has learnt.
Akpabio, who is the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, last week defeated Yari in a keenly contested election to emerge as the Senate President and Chairman of the 10th National Assembly.
Akpabio scored 63 votes against Yari’s 46 votes.
With Yari’s performance during the election of the Senate President and the issues he raised during his campaigns, the ruling party is concerned that his loyalists may gang up against Akpabio and polarise the Senate, which could hamper the smooth conduct of its legislative business.

While the APC leadership and President Bola Tinubu had insisted on a southern Christian in their zoning arrangement for the position of the Senate President, the former Zamfara State governor had argued that such an arrangement would deny the North the opportunity of heading any of the three arms of the government since the president who heads the executive arm, and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who heads the judiciary arm, are both southerners.
After the election, Yari had also declared that he was defeated by a gang-up of some top government officials and not Akpabio.
In an interview with BBC Hausa service on Friday, Yari said he could have won if there was no ‘gang-up’ against him led by President Bola Tinubu.
He said if he had known he would not win, he would not have contested the election.
“I never dreamt of not winning. From the day we started taking count of those with us, we had a number that showed we were in the majority. But you should not forget that I didn’t contest against Akpabio because if I knew I would not be up against Akpabio, I would not have joined the race,” he said.
When asked who he contested against, he said it included President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and other top government and political officials.
“Everyone was involved. The president was involved, the vice president was involved, the secretary of the government of the federation was involved, the governors were all against me alone, and those that supported me.

“I hope that in his second tenure, the president will allow democratic process to take centre stage in the parliament. He said he has a preferred candidate but the right thing for him as a leader was to accept everyone as his own. He shouldn’t show a difference. He said during his swearing-in that he would do right to all manner of people. I should be among those he was referring to but with this outcome, it shows there is betrayal and inducement whether to scare (some senators) or some other ways,” he said.
Yari, who was also a former House of Representatives member, however, said he has accepted the outcome of the election in good faith.
He, however, said he has nothing against Tinubu because he believed God decided that he wouldn’t be the senate president.
“From that day to me, I know that it’s God that decides everything. I know that’s not Bola (the president) that decides things. It’s God. If God wishes otherwise, I would have emerged, and not even Bola or anyone could stop it,” he said.
He said the 10th Senate would look into issues critically for the development of the country.
The ruling party is said to be worried by the aftermath of the election because, with Yari’s 43 votes, the former Zamfara State governor can mobilise his loyalists against Akpabio and make the seat hot for the former Akwa Ibom State governor.

To ensure a united Senate, the leaders of the APC have reached out to some of the governors through the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, to reconcile Akpabio and Yari’s supporters.
THISDAY gathered that AbdulRazaq was asked to mediate and ensure that Yari’s supporters give maximum support to Akpabio.
Investigation revealed that it was as a result of this that the Kwara State governor on Thursday evening visited Yari at his residence in Abuja as part of the peace-building efforts.
In a brief statement issued yesterday, the Director of Media of the NGF, Abdulraque Bello Barkindo, said that the chairman of NGF’s visit to Yari was to ensure peace and synergy in the Senate.
 Barkindo noted that: “On his visit, the NGF Chairman sought Senator Yari’s support for the new leadership of the 10th Senate and the Renewed Hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu”.
The statement did not give further details of the meeting but a source privy to the issue told THISDAY that the visit was part of the efforts to ensure that Yari’s loyalists do not cause trouble for Akpabio in the Senate.
Before last Tuesday’s election of Akpabio as the Senate President, the NGF had expressed support for the former governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Yari was a former chairman of the governors’ forum.

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

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