9th NASS: Battle For Senate Presidency, House Speaker Hots Up, APC Hopefuls Lobby PDP Lawmakers

The main contenders for presiding officer positions in the incoming 9th National Assembly have kick started a bi-partisan campaign model, even ahead of the expected zoning arrangement to be announced by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Insiders in the Senate and House of Representatives confirmed that  the same number of incoming lawmakers were said to have set up contact committees for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives.
While some of the House members are, however, declaring for the Speakership seat, they are at the same time keeping an eye on the post of Deputy Speaker in view of the expected swing in the zoning arrangement.
Sources told the Tribune Online that even while some of the ranking Senators are denying having flagged off full scale campaign for the post of Senate President, the likes of Senators Ahmed Lawan, Ali Ndume, Danjuma Goje and Abdullahi Adamu, have set up what is called contact committee to reach out to the incoming senators.
It was also learnt that former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu has also flagged off consultations for the Senate top job
Though Kalu is a first timer in the Senate, he is deemed a ranking member in view of the fact that he had been elected a member of the House of Representatives in the aborted Third Republic.
The contact committee is, however, not limiting the lobbying to lawmakers of the APC as the principals were said to have realised the need to campaign across party lines.
The Senate President and the Deputy are to be elected by the entire 109 Senators on the first day of sitting of the 9th  Assembly.
Any form of crack within the ranks of the APC Senators and Rep members would ensure that the PDP lawmakers have a big say in the process of emergence of the presiding officers.
In 2015, the leadership of the Senate was decided largely by PDP Senators who arrived the floor on time ahead of their APC colleagues who had gathered for a party meeting at the time the Assembly was being inaugurated.
It was gathered that the North Central and South East have made strong cases for the position of Senate President ahead of the release of the party’s zoning arrangement.
Some lawmakers from the South East were said to have posited that the North East already have the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and that allowing the zone to produce the Senate President would violate the Federal Character Principle.
The North Central which has Senator Adamu Abdullahi as its key candidate is also making a similar argument like the South East.
But sources in the Senate said that the contenders for the post of Senate President are this time engaging in campaigns across the party in view of the experience of the past.
Sources in the Assembly describe the situation thus: “In the past, it was thought that any endorsement by the party is sacrosanct but it has emerged that the chamber would elect a Senator they can work with as their Leader.

“Impositions by the executive have never really worked. Where it worked, it only survived temporarily as we saw in the case of the late Evans Enwerem.

The Senators are practicalising the fact that the chamber is a club and only the club members would choose their leaders.

“In that light, every contender is reaching out to every Senator, regardless of party affiliations.

“The same scenario is playing out in the House of Representatives, where the North Central is seeking to upstage the South West. Even some candidates for the North West are also showing interest in the post ofSpeaker, while keeping eyes on the number two post in the House.”

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