Aggrieved aspirants to leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly yesterday turned down overtures from persons purported to be acting on behalf of the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it was learnt,leadership report.

A source close to one of the aspirants for Senate president said the aspirants were contacted on Saturday evening for a meeting in one of the high-brow hotels in Abuja.

Senator Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu are frontliners for Senate president. In the House of Representatives, the aspirants are Ahmed Idris Wase, Aliyu Murktar Betara, Sani Jaji, Sada Soli, Ahmed Gagdi and Mariam Onuoha.  Jointly, they are called G-6 Aspirants Forum.

The source, who disclosed that the meeting was scheduled for yesterday at 8pm, said the aspirants got in touch with one another and turned down the meeting request.

“In politics, anything can happen; you cannot rule out surprises. So, upon consultations among themselves, they all declined, insisting they would rather meet the president-elect one on one for meaningful engagement”, the source told some reporters yesterday.

This comes as the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila-led Unity Group is set to present signatories of lawmakers-elect in support of Tajudeen Abbas for the position of speaker to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Gbajabiamila had last Wednesday confirmed his preferences for Abbas and Benjamin Kalu for the positions of Speaker and deputy respectively.

Gbajabiamila, who said he was also a loyal party who would never go against the decision of the party, added that his decision did not translate to hatred for other aspirants.

Confirming that the speaker would lead Abbas and other lawmakers to the ruling party’s national headquarters on Tuesday, a returning lawmaker from Osun State hinted that Abbas had the required numbers to scale through.

The lawmaker from Osun State, however, expressed worry that other aggrieved aspirants had not shown enough understanding.

“It is true we are meeting the NWC of the APC on Tuesday. Mind you, some of us are not members of their party but we believe in the choice put forward by the outgoing speaker. He would lead our team to meet with the national leadership of the APC.

“As of today, we are okay to form a majority to make Abbas speaker. We are only appealing to other APC aspirants to show understanding because if they don’t, the APC may end up losing out,” he said.

A short message sent to members of the Unity Group read:

“Good morning Hon members. Please be respectfully invited to accompany Hon Tajudeen Abbas, PhD, to a meeting with the national chairman and members of the national working committee (NWC) of APC on Tuesday, 23rd, 2023 at the party secretariat. Time 2pm. Please, members are to converge at Stratton Hotel by 12pm. Thanks and God bless.”

As of last week, the camps of the aspirants held strategy meetings in the light of concerns of not having a winnable majority to clinch the headship of the lower chamber.

As the Joint Task Force as well as the Unity Group met to review their plans, the G-6 aspirants met with opposition lawmakers-elect.

Kalu, Yari, Sani And The Zoning Conundrum

While Betara has intensified his campaign after meeting with President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Paris, France, another frontline aspirant and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Ahmed Idris Wase, insists he will not step down for any contender in the race.

He disclosed his position to State House correspondents on Friday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Shortly after receiving Tinubu at the Abuja Airport on Saturday, Wase held a brief meeting with him at the Defence House.

Why Inauguration Of 10th N’Assembly May Be Delayed

Save for last-minute change of plan, there were strong indications that the elections of presiding officers of the incoming 10th National Assembly might be delayed on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, the D-Day for the inauguration of the new Assembly.

Impeccable sources told LEADERSHIP that given foreseeable stalemate in the numbers of lawmakers-elect backing the annointed candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in both chambers of the 10th National Assembly on one hand and the ones supporting those insisting on contesting for the presiding offices against the ruling party’s directive, the proclamation instrument to be issued by the President to the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Sani Magaji Tambuwal, for the inauguration of the new Assembly might be temporarily withheld on the D-Day.

The proclamation letter from the President is an instrument that will empower the CNA to proceed to inaugurate the 10th session of the bicameral legislature in their respective chambers prior to election of the presiding officers.

The sources, who are top chieftains of the APC, confided in our Correspondent that the tactic to be employed by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who would have been sworn-in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the time, will be used to buy more time to reign in those considered as dissident lawmakers-elect on the platform of APC in order to avoid defeat for the annointed party candidates and embarrassment for the President and ruling APC, reminiscent of the 2011 and 2015 episodes.

LEADERSHIP recalls that Senators-elect Godswill Akpabio (South-South) and Barau Jibril (North-West) were announced as preferred candidates of the APC for the offices of Senate President and Deputy in the 10th National Assembly, respectively. While Members-elect Tajudeen Abbas (North-West) and Benjamin Kalu (North-East) were chosen to emerge as Speaker and Deputy in the next House of Representatives, respectively.

Dissatisfied with the party’s decisions without wider consultations with relevant stakeholders, Senator-elect Abdul’aziz Yari (North-West); incumbent Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (South-East), and Senator-elect Osita Izunaso (South-East) have vowed to contest for the office of Senate President in order to defend the independence of the legislature as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Standing Rule of the Senate.

Also, Senator Sani Musa, whose North-Central zone was completely left out in the APC zoning arrangement, is being backed by fellow North-Central Senators-elect to vie for the office of the Deputy Senate President against the party’s choice of candidate, Barau.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the trio of Yari, Kalu and Izunaso were contemplating forming a an alliance with the former Zamfara State Governor as the lead candidate to battle Akpabio with the support of minority caucus members of the yet-to-be inaugurated 10th Assembly.

Similarly in the yet-to-be inaugurated House of Representatives, members of the G6 alliance comprising deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase (North-Central), Hon. Mukhtar Aliyu Betara (North-East), Hon. Miriam Onuoha (South-East), Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (North-Central), Hon. Aminu Jaji (North-West), and member-elect Sada Soli Jibia (North-West), have vowed to produce a consensus candidate from among them to defeat the APC’s choice of Abbas.

The decisions of Yari, Kalu and Izunaso on one hand and the G6 in the House on the other hand, to go ahead with their aspirations were apparently against the backdrop that the national leadership of the APC might have reneged on the promise made to them to review the controversial zoning formula adopted by the party.

LEADERSHIP reports that already tongues are wagging over the choices of Senator Barau as Deputy Senate President and Hon. Abbas as Speaker, when both are from the same North-West geopolitical zone at the detriment of North-Central, which was completely ingored in the APC zoning formula.

Also, Zamfara West Senator-elect and Senate President aspirant, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, has protested against the zoning formula of the governing APC on the 10th Senate leadership positions on the basis that it was in conflict with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) because it is in breach of the federal character principle as enshrined in the constitution.

Yari said the religion balancing rationale behind the APC zoning arrangement was unknown to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as the nation’s law book only provides for federal character in sharing of offices for balancing and not religion as a factor.

The former Zamfara State governor and one-time member of the House of Representatives, who spoke last week Tuesday while featuring as a guest on Arise News Channel’s breakfast programme, ‘The Morning Show’, noted that the APC zoning formula for election of presiding officers for the 10th Senate was unconstitutional and unfair to Northern Nigeria as all the heads of the three arms of government will be Southerners in the next dispensation.

“I am particularly talking about the APC, if they decide to zone (Senate leadership positions), we ask them a question, on what do you based the zoning? Have you taken the federal character into cognizance, where the President, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Assembly chairman, the three arms of government, are in one place?

“The present Chief Justice of Nigeria is from Oyo State; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President-elect is from Lagos State, and Akpabio is from Akwa Ibom State at the same time. While the next Chief Justice of the Federation (Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun) is also going to be from the South-West,” Yari had pointed out.


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