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PDP Lawmakers Rally Opposition Senators-Elect for Senate Presidency

It favours the South-east and the North-central for Senate president and deputy respectively.

The race for the Senate Presidency in the 10th National Assembly has taken an interesting dimension with the 29 senators-elect on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), forming a formidable coalition with other opposition political parties, who had already secured 12 seats, THISDAY has learnt.
The lawmakers, it was learnt, plan to back a credible South-east lawmaker on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of the Senate President and an opposition lawmaker from the North-central for the deputy Senate president.
Other minority parties that produced senators are the Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); and the Young Progressive Party (YPP).
Before Saturday’s supplementary elections across the country, APC had won 57 seats, PDP had 29; LP, six; NNPP, two; SDP, two; APGA, one; and YPP, one.
Investigation by THISDAY revealed that the coalition being planned by the opposition senators-elect would support a strong APC Senator-elect from the southern part of the country as Senate President and a North-central senator from one of the opposition parties as the deputy.
A senator-elect from the North-east geopolitical zone confided in THISDAY that their decision was based on equity, fairness, justice, and the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria.

According to him, only an insensitive leader would notice the obvious tension in the land and would choose to ignore it for his selfish interest.
The senator-elect, who is returning to the red chamber for a second term, said the mood of the nation is that a Christian from the southern part of the country should be the Senate President in the 10th National Assembly.
Eleven senators-elect, including Senator Sani Musa (North-central); Jibrin Barau (North-west); Orji Kalu (South-east); Godswill Akpabio (South-south); Osita Izunaso (South-east); Peter Ndubueze (South-east); Abdul’Aziz Yari (North-west); Ahmad Lawan (North-east); Ali Ndume (North-east); David Umahi (South-east) and Adams Oshiomhole (South-south), are believed to be in the race for the Senate presidency.
The North-east Senator-elect further told THISDAY on conditions of anonymity that members of the minority caucus across political party lines have agreed to ensure good governance and would not allow the incoming administration to give any excuse for non-performance.
He said: “We are not going to rock the boat by producing the presiding officers from the minority caucus. We would abide by the global legislative convention by supporting the best aspirant from the majority bloc.

“We have also agreed that the best aspirant from the South-east geopolitical zone with the best credentials will be supported to become the Senate President.
“We have equally agreed that we would ensure the emergence of a North-central Senator with outstanding records of good performance, as the Deputy Senate President,” he said.
The senator-elect said the coalition started meeting since penultimate week and would wrap up their deal as soon as the leadership of the party announced the zoning arrangements for the presiding officers’ positions in the 10th National Assembly.
Contacted yesterday, a ranking Senator currently representing Osun East, who had been reelected, Francis Fadahunsi, confirmed the meeting of the opposition senators.
Fadahunsi, a retired deputy comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said the PDP senators-elect are united in their resolve to contribute their quota to good governance in the incoming administration.
Fadahunsi said: “The meeting of the minority caucus has started and it is not meant to frustrate the APC leadership move on zoning.
“We are prepared to support the best aspirant from the geopolitical zone where the presiding officers’ positions would be zoned to.”
Asked what would happen if the APC decided to look away from the South by zoning the positions to the North, Fadahunsi said, “When we get to the bridge, we shall cross it.”
He however, said, “We expect the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC and the President-elect to feel the mood of the nation before taking such a delicate decision.”

Meanwhile, another senator-elect, a member of the PDP from the North-central geopolitical zone, who preferred anonymity, said the minority coalition might support a Southern Christian aspirant if APC zones the Senate Presidency position to the North.
He said: “The APC narrowly won the presidential election because of the same-faith ticket. I don’t expect them to make another fundamental mistake this time around.
“We all know that the South-east is marginalised and the Christians are seriously agitating for inclusiveness.
“If the APC failed to reason with the current mood of the nation. We will help them to do the right thing on the day of the inauguration. We will support a Christian Southern aspirant among the current APC contestants,” he added.
The zoning arrangements would be announced as soon as the President-elect, Tinubu returns to the country this week.
Meanwhile, the leader of the PDP in the House of Representatives, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers) has promised that the PDP and other minority parties despite agreeing to respect the decision of the ruling party APC, on zoning of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker seats, doesn’t mean that they are letting down their guards.
The returning majority, minority lawmakers and new members-elect from all political parties that won seats in the parliament had last week vowed to respect the decision of the majority party on zoning of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker seats and as well decision of opposition parties on minority leadership of the House in line with parliamentary best practices.

The lawmakers comprising of 283 members-elect from the APC, PDP, the Labour Party (LP), the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Young Progressive Party (YPP), formed an alliance known as the “Joint Task–10th Assembly”.
In a statement signed by the group Chairman Hon. Usman Bello Kumo (APC, Gombe) and Co-Chairman Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), the lawmakers said the main focus of the coalition is to promote the independence of the Legislature; the inter-dependence of the Legislature and other Arms of Government to legislate for good governance and grassroots impact.
Speaking to THISDAY on if the alliance will weaken the opposition’s strength in the parliament, Chinda said that it won’t, as the alliance only means that after zoning members will make their choices from among candidates from the zone.

His words, “APC is agreed to conduct the zoning as the majority party in parliament. Of course my party PDP could not have been asked to come up with zoning the presiding officer position. This does not erode the position of opposition parties at all. It also does not mean that we are letting down our guards as opposition. After zoning members will make their choices from among candidates from the zone.”
The lawmaker also speaking on whether the emanating trend of alliances in the green chamber by the minority caucus signifies disunity, said, “Issues of leadership of the House Minorities or majority) are for the Minority or majority Caucuses not an agenda of the Joint task. The spirit of the joint task is douse tension and reduce rancour in the House over Presiding Officers position (Speaker and Deputy Speaker). That we intend to achieve by putting together members across parties to consider federal character and inclusive governance for purposes of national cohesion and in line with Section 14(3) of the Constitution.”

Sunday Aborisade and Udora Orizu in Abuja

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