Fierce battle has continued for the principal offices of the 10th National Assembly as about 37 senators-elect of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have vehemently rejected the advanced choice of Senators Godswill Akpabio and Jubrin Barau for Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.
The choice of the pair, according to Vanguard report, was communicated to the senators-elect by the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at a meeting of the leadership of the APC on Friday night in Abuja.
The meeting also had the leadership of the National Assembly in attendance.
Akpabio, who is the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, hails from Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district while Barau represents Kano North.
According to reports, the president-elect also told the gathering that his choice for speakership of the House of Representatives was Hon. Tajudeen Abbas who represents Zaria federal constituency of Kaduna State.
A source, who was privy to the meeting and preferred not to be mentioned, told Sunday Vanguard that many of the senators-elect at the occasion, numbering about 37,said no to the choice of Akpabio, citing national unity and cohesion as their reason.
In the alternative, the senators reportedly pointed to the direction of the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, and a former governor of Zamfara State, Senator Abdulaziz Yari for Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.
While Kalu represents Abia North Senatorial District, Yari was recently voted to represent Zamfara West.
The source added that the APC senators, who visibly showed their disapproval of the preferred choices, demanded the neutrality of the president-elect in the elections of the presiding and principal officers of the 10th National Assembly.
Akpabio’s choice, it was learnt, came after Tinubu had given Akpabio the condition that he must have about 60 senators-elect backing his bid a development which had made the camp of the president-elect to ask for the list of his backers.
In essence, for any senator to emerge Senate President, he needs to have 60 votes on the floor of the Senate in June when the election of the presiding and principal officers holds.
Recall that that APC has 59 senators-elect while opposition parties put together have 50 senators-elect, making it a total of 109 after the February 25 general elections.
The breakdown of the opposition parties standing are as follows: PDP 36; LP 8; NNPP 2; YPP 1; APGA 1 and SDP 2.
“About 37 APC senators-elect have rejected the choice of Akpabio as the Senate President. He was introduced alongside Senator Barau as Deputy Senate President” , one source told Sunday Vanguard.
“But the senators-elect cited national unity and said they would rather vote for Orji Kalu and Yari as Senate President and Deputy.Senate President.
“They also appealed to the president-elect who also chose Tajudeen Abbas for Speaker not to interfere in the elections of the presiding officers of bath chambres of the National Assembly. This is the situation now.”
On the choice of Abbas, the gathering, according to the source, expressed concern that Abbas may not be accepted by the generality of the House members, saying it would be difficult to market him.
The source said that the Reps-elect present at the occasion were rooting for the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara, from Borno State to be Speaker.
Abbas is said to have the support of the outgoing Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, although he has since denied it, saying he was waiting for the party’s zoning formula before throwing his weight behind the growing list of contestants for speakership of the incoming Assembly.
(Courtesy, excluding headline, Vanguard)