The move by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to produce the Senate Minority Leader may hit a brick wall as formidable forces loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) have mobilised to ensure that one of the smaller parties produces the Senate Minority Leader, THISDAY has learnt.
This is coming as a former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; his counterpart in Kebbi and Bayelsa states, Senators Mohammed Adamu Aliero; and Henry Seriake Dickson, respectively, as well as five other senators from the minority political parties have warned against what they described as an ongoing attempt to destabilise minority parties in the Senate.
Meanwhile, President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, yesterday said that the 10th National Assembly would partner President Bola Tinubu-led administration to change policies inhibiting the progress and development of the country.
The other five signatories to the statement issued yesterday by the eight senators include Senator Abdul Ningi; Senator Patrick Abba Moro; Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi; Senator Sumaila Kawu, and Senator Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has 59 Senators; PDP, 36; Labour Party (LP), eight; New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), two; Social Democratic Party (SDP); two; APGA, one; and YPP, one.
With PDP’s overwhelming majority, the main opposition party is strategising to produce the Senate Minority Leader.
THISDAY however gathered that the immediate past governor of one of the South-south states, who is also a member of the PDP has mobilised forces to stop his party from producing the Senate Minority Leader.
Investigation revealed that the former governor is determined to influence the choices of minority leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
The PDP chieftain, it was learnt, wants his loyalist in one of the minority parties to emerge as the Senate Minority Leader, while his loyalist in the PDP emerges as the House Minority Leader.
The former governor, who is believed to be working with the suspected agents of President Bola Tinubu’s government, held a marathon meeting with the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio in the Senate President’s office in Abuja over the matter last week.
Sources in the Senate who were privy to the meeting told THISDAY that the meeting explored ways of blocking the chances of PDP in the minority leadership positions in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
THISDAY learnt in Abuja that the PDP had zeroed in on the immediate past governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal as the Senate Minority Leader.
It was learnt that Tambuwal, who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 7th National Assembly, was considered the best choice to give Tinubu’s government a robust opposition.
A senator in the Senate caucus of the PDP explained to THISDAY on condition of anonymity that bringing Tambuwal on board would create a vibrant opposition for the new administration.
But the former governor of a South-south state, who was sighted by THISDAY in a black suit, after the marathon meeting with Akpabio, left the Senate wing of the National Assembly at about 6:30 pm on Thursday in the convoy of Akpabio; and the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Jibrin Barau.
Also in the convoy were senators Salihu Mustapha (APC Kwara Central), Jibril Isah (APC Kogi East) as well as the recently appointed Senior Special Assistant, National Assembly Matters (Senate) to President Tinubu, Senator Abdullahi Abubakar Gumel.
A source at the meeting told THISDAY that the plan of the former governor with the leadership of the Senate, was to have a minority leader not chosen by PDP but by his own loyalists within the party.
He said: “The former governor from the South-south and suspected agents of Tinubu’s administration have zeroed in on a former Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe.”
Abaribe left his position as the minority leader of the 9th Senate when he defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA),
He returned to the 10th Senate on the platform of the APGA.
The four principal positions for Senators elected on the platforms of the minority political parties are Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip, and Deputy Minority Whip.
Tambuwal, Aliero, Dickson, Ubah, Moro, Ningi, Others Warn against Imposition
Meanwhile, Tambuwal and seven other senators from the minority political parties have warned against what they described as an ongoing attempt to destabilise the minority parties in the Senate.
In a statement issued yesterday, the eight senators who signed the statement stated that it had come to the notice of the minority political parties in the Senate of an attempt by forces inside and outside the Senate to divide the minority parties and foist a pliant and compromised leadership on them.
“We have pledged to work constructively with the new Senate leadership and the Executive branch to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people. We consequently hereby advise and caution that they should not aid any group inside or outside the Senate to divide and destabilise the minority parties and the Senate institution,” the statement explained.
The statement disclosed that the senators of the minority parties would meet when the Senate reconvenes to select their leaders after due consultations with their political parties “without undue interference from anti-democratic forces within or outside the Senate.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, no Senator has yet been endorsed or selected for any Minority position as this would await due process as agreed by all Minority Parties in their last meeting. Attempts to foist a one-party dictatorship would be resisted and would fail.
“We call on all members of the minority political parties to work together in unity to defend the democratic institution of the Senate and Nigeria,” the statement added.
N’Assembly will Back Tinubu to Drive Development, Says Akpabio
Meanwhile, Senate President, Senator Akpabio, yesterday said that the 10th National Assembly would partner the President Tinubu-led administration to change policies inhibiting the progress and development of the country.
He thanked the president, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling APC and his colleagues in the Senate for supporting him to emerge Senate President.
Akpabio spoke at the thanksgiving service in his honour at the Regina Pacis Auditorium, St Anne Cathedral Ifuho, Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
According to a statement by his media office, Akpabio said: “The current National Assembly will rally round and support the programmes of the current administration by eliminating all inhibiting policies affecting the progress and development of the country. We would be partners in progress for the sole benefit of Nigerians.”
Speaking further, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, who arrived the Victor Attah International Airport to a rousing welcome by indigenes across party lines led by Governor Umoh Eno, assured the people of his District of quality representation as their Senator and President of the Senate.
“I am humbled by this show of love. Humility is all that matters in life. You will see the difference. What I want you to take back home is the fact that Nigerians have elected an uncommon Senate President. We will run an uncommon Senate for the benefit of the uncommon people. That is why I am here today to thank God for what he has done for me,” he said.
I his homily, Most Rev Camillus Umoh, charged the 10th Senate to work for Nigerians and right the wrongs of the past to show that they are different through legislations.
According to him: “We pray for collaboration and unity from your colleagues in both Senate and House of Representatives to make laws that would be just and for the good of Nigerians.”