As at 2pm of Friday, March 29, 2019, Senators Ali Ndume (Borno South) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) had agreed to step down from the senatorial race in order to allow Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) unhindered passage to the Senate Presidency, top ranking sources at the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) disclosed to Pulse.
It was the culmination of a series of peace talks attended by governors, party chieftains, APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and APC godfather Bola Ahmed Tinubu–most of whom held way past midnight.
The talks were aimed at persuading other contenders to kill their senate presidential bids for chosen candidate Lawan, Pulse has learnt.
“We are doing everything to avoid the Saraki 2015 scenario and the other contenders have agreed that it is better to go with the party position on this matter”, says one top ranking APC chieftain who pleaded anonymity for this story.
What Tinubu said
As March gave way to April, Oshiomhole and Tinubu went public with resolutions of closed-door discussions on principal and presiding officers of the National Assembly.
Tinubu even likened Saraki, departing senate president, to a serpent, without explicitly saying so.
“Party discipline is key. We must be disciplined in the party. We were a little careless in 2015. We created the opportunity for serpents to get into our party and that did not allow Nigeria to make the desired progress”, Tinubu said in Lagos after a prayer program organized by Islamic and Christian clerics to mark his 67th birthday.
“You have seen the result of it and we are not going to allow that to happen again. We are going to respect our party and we are going to apply the whip.
“It is either you stay with us or you follow us or you leave. You have the freedom to choose but the freedom does not give you as a minority to go and collaborate and protrude our mandate given to you to another party who was our opposition and who is still our opposition.
“We would not take that this time, no matter who you think you are. That is how it is built. Why do you want to deviate from what has been structured?
“We look at our reward system equally, zone by zone,” Tinubu had added.
What Oshiomhole said
Hours earlier, Oshiomhole had vowed that no member of the PDP would occupy key positions in the 9th National Assembly: “Somebody told me the opposition party people are already doing something, raising money to bribe people and I said no, we are promoters of anti-corruption, we cannot be corrupted.
“If they bring N1 billion to each member, no PDP person will be Speaker, no PDP person will be Deputy Speaker, no PDP person will be Whip, no PDP person will be Leader and no PDP person will take the chairmanship of any of the committees that is meant for the ruling party. We are determined to achieve that and be rest assured that the party will stand by you.
“We have the number to produce the Speaker and we will produce the Speaker. We have the number to produce the Deputy Speaker and we will use the number to produce the Deputy Speaker. We have the number and we must use the number to elect a House Leader.
“We have the number and we will use the number to produce a Chief Whip and a Deputy Whip who must be members of the APC. I think the only position that we are not interested in is the Minority Leader. Let it remain minor in the hands of the minors in the opposition.
“If the Nigerian people wanted them to be chairmen of committees, they would have voted for them. So all the chairmen of committees, except one that is statutorily reserved for the opposition, which is Public Accounts, they can have that.
“So, we would not do the kind of thing that happened the last time in which some APC members, as members of the leading party, became distant spectators in the management of committees; when PDP had majority of the strategic committees in the House. That will not happen in the next Assembly.”
Done and dusted with Gbajabiamila
Pulse has also been told that all is now set for Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to be crowned Speaker of the House of Representatives and that other APC contenders for presiding positions in the 9th National Assembly, will soon issue press statements to say they have withdrawn from the race, in line with what the APC loves to call “party supremacy”.
Senators Ndume and Goje did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.
The 9th National Assembly is likely to be inaugurated on June 9, 2019.