Senate Presidency: Saraki, Lawan split APC senators
Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the incoming National Assembly were, on Saturday, sharply divided over the Senate presidency ambitions of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ahmad Lawan.
The spilt became obvious at two separate press briefings addressed by the camps of Senator Saraki and Senator Lawan.
While Lawan's supporters under the aegis of Unity Forum told newsmen that the forum has members from across the geopolitical zones and that its members have endorsed Lawan, Saraki's loyalists under the aegis of Like Minds Senators announced that 35 of the 59 APC Senators have endorsed Saraki for the Senate presidency.
A two-paragraph message put out by the Unity Forum on behalf of Lawan and Akume indicated that the Yobe State senator had secured the support of a majority of his colleagues who are members of the 8th Assembly.
The statement read: 'We, the Senate Unity Forum comprising senators and senators-elect from various states and various zones of Nigeria, have met, held extensive discussions and resolved to support Senator Ahmad Lawan as Senate President and Senator George Akume as Deputy President of the 8th Senate.
'Kindly take this to be our collective decision in the best interest of our party, APC and our dear nation, Nigeria.'
The group, however, did not specify the number of senators that constitute the Unity Forum.
Immediately after the briefing, they reportedly left the venue of the APC Retreat for Senators to brief two leaders of the party, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
However, shortly after the briefing by Unity Forum, Saraki emerged with a number senators-elect who also addressed the media and stated their resolve to back Saraki for Senate President.
The Senate Unity Forum was led by Senator Barnabas Gemade while the Like Minds Senators were led by Senator-elect Dino Melaye.
The Dino Melaye group, while announcing the adoption of Senator Saraki for the top job, said that 'the issue of National Assembly leadership is about integrity, competence, discipline and leadership skills and not about fixing of candidates just for mere horse-trading. Our stand is about electing a senator who eventually becomes the chairman of National Assembly and relates with the executive on behalf of Nigerians, fellow Senators and the National Assembly as an institution'.
According to them, 'leadership of National Assembly, is about the senator that has the wherewithal to stabilise the legislative institution, working with the executive and judicial arm of government to be effective and perform to their optimal capacity.
'In addition, we are aware of the fact that ALL senators from the North-Central zone have taken a firm position that they are only interested in the office of the Senate President, which has been earlier zoned by the National Working Committee of our party and we are also aware that North-Central senators have resolved to abide by the resolution of the zone on a single candidate and anything short of this is an attempt to jeopardize the collective interest of the zone.
'Of the 59 Senators of the APC, 35 of us present here today hereby reaffirm our collective commitment and resolution to ensure that the candidature of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as the Senate President of 8th Assembly.' - Nigerian Tribune.