Negotiations have intensified as both APC and PDP plot to get key leadership positions in the ninth Senate. The APC and President Buhari have already endorsed the outgoing Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, for the Senate presidency seat.
There are, however, speculations that the PDP is plotting to negotiate with some APC senators-elect to get Goje-Ekweremadu ticket. The battle for the leadership of the ninth Senate took another dimension on Friday, April 26, as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) allegedly kicked-off negotiation with some aspirants from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to The Nation, the opposition PDP is negotiation with some APC lawmakers-elect to plot a joint ticket with Senator Danjuma Goje, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and the outgoing deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu. The newspaper further reports that some leaders of PDP are suggesting either Senator Ali Ndume-Ekweremadu mandate or Sen. Abdullahi Adamu-Ekweremadu ticket.
However, most PDP senators-elect, especially those loyal to the outgoing Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, are reportedly uncomfortable with any joint ticket with Ndume or Adamu. Saraki and influential PDP leaders prefer a deal with Goje, who was once a father-figure in the opposition party before he defected to APC. If the alliance succeeds, it will be contesting against the Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan, who has been adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC.
Also, Senator Ekweremadu has been allegedly holding meetings with some APC senators-elect, especially those rated as “rebellious and amenable”, in order to get at least 56 simple majority out of 109 to enable the alliance to control the Senate. The alliance negotiations have also been cited as the reason why Senator Goje has not officially declared to contest the Senate presidency seat.
Some APC senators-elect, who spoke to The Nation in confidence, confirmed that Ekweremadu has been reaching out to them “preaching peace, unity and the need to uphold the principle of separation of powers.” One of them was quoted to have said: “The intrigues for the Office of the President of the Senate have heightened with the PDP seeking to retain its present stake in the upper chamber. “Already, the party is plotting a joint ticket by Goje and Ekweremadu or Ndume/Adamu-Ekweremadu alliance. “We initially underrated the plot until Ekweremadu started meeting with APC senators-elect under the guise of fighting for the upholding of the principle of separation of powers.
“The opposition wants a repeat of 2015 power game in the Senate and it is determined to divide the APC. “The reality is that PDP is desirous of a weighty slot in the Senate to be able to checkmate President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling APC. “At the heart of it all also is the calculation for 2023. The opposition does not want to give APC a breathing space before the next elections. “Also, the PDP seeks to accommodate the southeast in the National Assembly hierarchy since APC might not give the geopolitical zone a significant appointment.”
Meanwhile, a loyalist of Senator Lawan, the anointed candidate of the APC, said they are also working hard to ensure Lawan gets the seat. He said: “We are working round the clock to ensure that our candidate wins the leadership election in June. We have also gained more support from PDP camp too. “We are working hard to secure a comfortable figure for Lawan to emerge as Senate President.
So far, there is no cause for alarm.” Shehu Sani, senator representing Kaduna central at the Senate, said he did not think that APC had learnt from its mistakes that led to the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as the leaders of 8th National Assembly. Sani said the interest of other APC lawmakers in the leadership positions for the 9th Assembly could result in a repeat of what occurred in 2015.
He said: “With what I have seen, there are a lot of statements coming from the APC making positions that they have learnt their mistakes and this time around, they are going to make some corrections and achieve what they want to achieve. “But in the real sense, I don’t think lessons were learnt from what I can see on the ground. If lessons were learnt, there would be only one candidate from the APC. As long as we have three contenders from the APC, there is a likelihood of a repeat of what happened in 2015.”