Strong indications emerged at the weekend that the strategists of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu are showing strong interest on who becomes the next President of the Senate due to the uncertainty of the outcome of the various petitions challenging Tinubu’s victory at the election tribunal, THISDAY has learnt.
This is as a former Senate Minority Leader and ex-Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and the outgoing Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. Dave Umahi have remained the strong contenders for the Senate Presidency.
It was gathered that as Oshiomhole and Umahi insist on running, there are moves to amend the Senate Rules to allow the first-term senators to run for the principal positions to pave the way for the former governor of Edo State, who is said to be Tinubu’s favourite.
Oshiomhole and Umahi are going to the Senate for their first term.
THISDAY gathered that while the APC has settled for the South-south to produce the Senate President and the North-west to produce the deputy, the Senate Rules prohibit the emergence of a first-term senator.
Under the current Senate Rules, they are not qualified to run as only a ranking senator is qualified to hold a principal position.
A source privy to the ongoing permutations however told THISDAY last night that if Oshiomhole is finally cleared to contest, the APC governors would likely throw their weight behind Umahi.
It was gathered that the fear of the possible outcome of the petitions filed against Tinubu’s victory in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) prompted the President-elect and his allies to search for a candidate they can trust.
Multiple sources told THISDAY at the weekend that Tinubu’s camp is rooting for a trusted ally to become the Senate President so that in the event of a nullification of the February 25 presidential election, their ally will hold forth as the acting President for a period of 90 days.
“There are fears that the tribunal might annul the election. If the tribunal annuls the election, they will need a strong Senate President, who will hold forth for 90 days,” one of the sources told THISDAY.
APC Govs’ Panel on Zoning Submits Report Tomorrow
Meanwhile, barring any unforeseen circumstances, a committee of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) on zoning the leadership positions in the National Assembly, which was set up at the instance of the President-elect,Tinubu, is expected to submit its report tomorrow for consideration by the leadership of the APC.
THISDAY gathered that Tinubu requested for the setting up of the panel when some governors kicked against a consensus arrangement aimed at micro-zoning the presiding officers’ positions at the National Assembly to certain individuals.
The anti-consensus governors, according to a source who preferred anonymity, threatened to move against the party’s leaders if due process was not followed in electing the presiding officers of the federal parliament.
The source said: “The President-elect was almost buying into the consensus plans until the governors intervened and vowed to work against the party by supporting a second nomination on the floor of the chambers during the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly.
“The President-elect, who does not want to start his administration with a preventable crisis, asked the Progressive Governors Forum to set up a committee that would come up with an acceptable zoning arrangement to be deliberated upon by the chieftains of the party this week.”
A source close to one of the governors, told THISDAY yesterday that the report would be submitted on Monday.
Tinubu had rejected plans by some ranking senators from the South-west geopolitical zone to make him support their agenda for the use of a consensus arrangement to produce the presiding officers of the 10th National Assembly.
Multiple sources confirmed to THISDAY in Abuja on Friday that the senators who considered themselves to be the right-hand men of Tinubu had been working round the clock to allegedly arm-twist him into micro-zoning the 10th Senate Presiding Officers to two senators-elect.
The source, who is a returning senator from the South-west expressed the fears that the desperate moves by the senators might jeopardise the APC’s zoning arrangements on the floor of the Senate on the day of inauguration as there could be a possibility of a second nomination.