…APC NWC adopts Omo-Agege, Wase as deputies
…Security tightened at NASS
Henry Omunu & Tunde Opalana, Abuja
The two frontline candidates for the Senate President and House of Representatives speaker, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, will today know their fate as they bid to contest for the presiding officers’ position of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Already, the two anointed candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) enjoy wide acceptance across party lines from senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect having secured the endorsement of the Presidency and APC national leadership.
However, whether a dark horse in the person of Senator Ali Ndume and Rep. Umaru Bago Mohammed will be capable to muster the numbers to upturn the apple cart and emerge against the will of the ruling APC remains unpredictable.
Going by reports in the media on Monday that Sen. Lawan enjoys the backing of 37 PDP senators-elect, it is assumed that Lawan is home and dry as the next Senate President.
However, Ndume’s insistence not to withdraw from the race cannot be overlooked as a source said he equally enjoys a sizeable support base across party lines.
The Daily Times was informed that supporters of Ndume were not distressed by claims of overwhelming support of senators- elect routing for Lawan as they wait patiently for today’s day of decision.
Claims of dependable support base from the PDP by both camps has been hard to disprove by the sealed lips been maintained by PDP’s senators on party’s position, even though individual senators have been given the green light to support any candidate of their choice.
However, there may be a twist to today’s choice as four aspirants vie for deputy Senate President seat and the choice of the deputy seat may influence the preferred Senate President candidate.
Ahead of today’s inauguration, one of the five known contenders for the deputy Senate President seat, Sen. Ajayi Boroffice, on Monday, reportedly withdrew from the race, leaving four senators in today’s contest.
Sen. Boroffice, in a statement issued by his Press Secretary, Mr. Kayode Fakuyi, on Monday in Abuja, specifically stated that his withdrawal from the race was purely in deference to President Muhammadu Buhari and leadership of the APC.
The statement reads in part: “Some weeks ago, Distinguished Senator, (Prof.) Robert Ajayi Boroffice, declared intention, through letters addressed to Senators-elect, to seek the office of Deputy Senate President.
“The intention to contest was anchored on the deep conviction that with his excellent public service record, rich legislative experience and personality, he has the best credentials for the position.
“Consequently, he embarked on extensive consultations with party leaders, senators-elect and political groups. Indeed, everybody that was consulted agreed that he is eminently qualified to seek the office of Deputy Senate President.
“Instructively, majority senators-elect have assured the senator of their support and the prospect of victory is high.
“However, in deference to President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice has decided to withdraw from the race.
“For the support and solidarity, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice is grateful to Senators-elect. He is humbled by the warm embrace and great display of camaraderie”.
Despite the endorsement of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central) for the position of deputy senate president by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), other contenders have vowed to participate in the election.
Other contenders in the race are Senators Kabiru Gaya, APC-Kano South; Orji Uzor Kalu, APC-Abia North and Francis Alimikhena, APC- Edo North.
But, the dark horse in the race, Kabiru Gaya on Monday said he’s still very much in the race and that he would contest with the anointed party candidate.
Similarly, Kalu and Alimikhena have vowed to fight on irrespective of the party’s decision, and have insisted not to step down.
The choice of deputy Senate President however, may determine where the different interest groups and affiliations go in line with association.
Majority of PDP senators after the exit of Goje from the race have been undecided between Lawan and Ndume, but majority are supporting Lawan to pay Ndume back in his own coin for antagonising Saraki’s Senate Presidency.
But, it was learnt that the PDP caucus are giving the APC negotiating team a condition that Francis Alimikhena from Edo North becomes deputy Senate President.
The PDP decision to stick with Alimikhena is not far- fetched. They would love to punish Omo-Agege for his role in numerous plots to oust Saraki as Senate President, including his alleged role in the mace –theft saga.
They insisted that they will only endorse Lawan if Omo – Agege is sacrificed and APC picks Sen. Alimikhena.
Meanwhile, the APC National Working Committee on Monday adopted the candidature of Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege and Rep. Muhammed Idris Wase for the positions of deputy Senate President and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.
APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement on Monday morning in Abuja, said the NWC took the decision after its emergency meetings held at the weekend.
“The party formally adopts Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege for the positions of deputy Senate President and Rep. Muhammed Idris Wase as deputy speaker. This is sequel to wide consultations with President Muhammadu Buhari, party stakeholders, including APC governors,” he said.
The party had earlier announced the duo of Sen. Ahmed Lawan and Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila as the party’s candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of House Representatives respectively.
“All elected APC members of the Senate and House of Representatives are hereby, directed to fully mobilise as a united force behind the party’s choice,” the APC ordered.
It also urged members who have earlier signified interests in the same positions “to support the party’s decisions as loyal and committed members of APC by working with other members to ensure the emergence of the adopted candidates.”
In another development, security has been beefed up at the National Assembly ahead of the inauguration and election of presiding officers.
Staff and visitors to the National Assembly are critically checked and only those with accreditation cards and other official means of identification would be allowed entry into the premises to witness the inauguration.
The security operatives have taking positions at strategic areas, to guard against any unusual occurrence while movement around designated has also been restricted.