Some aggrieved aspirants, who were interested the position of the 10th Senate Presidency, were alleged have started creating tension among senators-elect following their recent moves to form an alliance against Senator Godswill Akpabio, who had been endorsed by the leadership of the All-Progressives Congress (APC).
Investigations by THISDAY revealed that Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Osita Izunaso were separately talking to former governor Abdulaziz Yari on the need for possible alliance to defeat Akpabio.
While Kalu confirmed his own moves on Tuesday to journalists, a member of the campaign team of Izunaso, who spoke with journalists off record, said the alliance between Yari and his principal would be perfected at a meeting in Abuja on today.
Further investigations revealed that panic had since gripped senators in the camp of the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Unconfirmed reports also indicated that President Bola Tinubu, was allegedly reconsidering his decision to support Akpabio for the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly.
Consequently, the senators mostly from the South West were said to have called for a meeting on Friday where they would also review their position and chart a new course on the leadership of the Senate.
A Senator from one of the South West states told some journalists on the condition of anonymity that the meeting was scheduled for Friday, and that they were awaiting the outcome of a crucial meeting of some senators-elect scheduled for today, which they had asked some of their members to attend.
“Nigerians were outraged by the micro-zoning of the position of Senate President to Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is at present being investigated by anti-graft agencies for a series of cases bothering on sleaze.
“Recall that Tinubu declared pointedly in his inaugural speech that his government would take proactive steps such as championing a credit culture to discourage corruption while strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the various anti-corruption agencies.
“With this statement, most of us have come to the full realisation of the fact that President Bola Tinubu would not for anything support any senator with myriads of cases of corruption in the anti-graft agencies after declaring before the world that he would strengthen and make them more effective,” the source said.
But the Director General for the Akpabio/Barau Stability Group, Senator Ali Ndume, has dismissed claims by the aggrieved aspirants and their loyalists, saying, “It is not surprising that whenever a politically exposed person is contesting elections, some people would be sponsored to raise issues against him or her.
“Don’t forget that President Bola Tinubu was also severely accused when he was campaigning to be president. We are not actually bothered about what the sponsored groups are saying about Akpabio, the anti-graft agencies know what to do, why are they teaching them what to do?
“They are accusing that some corrupt activities took place under his watch at the NDDC but they did not say he misappropriated funds as governor or as Minister. Akpabio was not the accounting officer of the NDDC, he was only heading the supervising ministry.
“They also accused him of not constituting the board of the NDDC but that also, was not his job. The president of the country is saddled with such responsibility,” he added
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Coalition of Concerned Niger Delta Stakeholders, Odiedini Maachree, addressed journalists in Abuja on Wednesday and declared that his group would not support Akpabio because of the roles he allegedly played in the NDDC.
“In the wake of subsidy removal and the anticipated hardship it may bring to Nigerians, we need a robust senate leadership to make laws and approvals that will cushion the effect of the interim hardship of the subsidy removal.
“We frown and dissociate ourselves from any anointed candidate by any political party, and therefore support an independent legislature without interference. We the coalition of concerned Niger Delta stakeholders hereby state categorically that we did not endorse any senator in the South-south region of Nigeria for senate presidency.
“Rather, we are of the opinion that the senate should be a level playing ground where leadership elections will be conducted fairly and anyone with the majority vote wins. Again, we state that His Excellency, Yari is a man to beat and at the end, if he emerges the Senate President, we are optimistic that he will lead the 10th senate credibly without fear or favour.”