By Nuel Suji, Abuja.
Senator-elect and Coordinator of the “Like minds senators-elect”, Dino Melaye, Wednesday cautioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressive Congress against too much interference in the affairs of the senate, reminding them that the upper legislative chamber is guided by rules.
Melaye who was reacting to an exclusive story published by News Investigators to the effect that the NWC’s criterion for the selection of candidate for the senate presidency skewed in favour of Sen. Ahmad Lawan at the detriment of Sen. Bukola Saraki, said the NWC should not overreach itself by dabbling into who would be senate president of the 8th session of the National Assembly.
“The NWC is there to offer advice and not to determine those who will contest leadership positions on the floor of the senate,” he said.
Adding that, “the constitution of Nigeria and the rules of the Senate are clear on how a senate president could emerge”
News Investigators had reported on fact emerging on Wednesday that Senator Ahmad Lawan may eventual emerge as the consensus candidate for the position of the Senate President in the 8th Senate, as new criterion proposed for aspiring senators may have disqualified Sen. Bukola Saraki, Lwan’s main rival.
The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress had held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night and listed some criterion for the Senate presidential candidate.
Buhari had said he would not interfere with the election of the leadership of the National Assembly, adding that he was ready to work with anyone that emerge for the positions.
But recently, he frowned at pronouncements by the party on the question of who should be the senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives, saying courtesy demands that he be consulted.
The APC leadership met with Buhari Tuesday to brief him on its course of action prior to the emergence of leadership of the National Assembly, scheduled for next Tuesday.
However, sources at the Tuesday meeting revealed that the NWC agreed, among other things, that the next Senate president must come from the geopolitical zone with the second highest number of votes, after the North-West, at the Presidential election held on March 28.
The meeting, it was further learnt, agreed that the next Senate president must not have any corruption charges hanging on his or her neck and should be one of the most ranking senators in the current Fourth Republic.
The criterion, investigation revealed, was meant to knock off Sen. Bukola Saraki and to give Sen. Ahmad Lawan an edge in the contest.
Lawan has been in the National Assembly since 1999, having spent his first two term as member of the House of Representatives and two term in the Senate, is the most ranking Senator in the eight National Assembly.
Also, Lawan who has not been indicted by any anti-graft agency, also hails from North-East which gave President Buhari the second highest votes during the 2015 presidential election.
One of the federal lawmakers who attended the meeting but pleaded anonymity said that the meeting also mandated the executive members of the party to, within three days, present a consensus candidate for the post of Senate president based on the listed criteria.
Lawan’s main opponent, Sen. Bukola Saraki ( Kwara Central ) was elected into the Senate in 2011, having served first as governor of his state two term while Ahmad Lawan had been in the Senate since 2007.
A group known as “Like Minds Senators” working for the emergence of Saraki as Senate president, two weeks ago, compiled a list containing the names of 34 APC Senators-elect, who had endorsed him as the consensus candidate for the post.
However, there was a confusion a week later when another group “Senate Unity Forum” claimed that 40 APC Senators-elect had endorsed Lawan as their consensus candidate.
Already, the All Progressives Congress (APC) had summoned all its Senators-elect for a meeting onThursday, the 4th of June, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, where it is expected to harmonise its positions.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by is National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed, the party explained that it will meet with its Senators-elect at 10 a.m.
The agenda of the meeting might base on how the party will come with consensus candidate on Senate Presidency.
Only recently, some APC leaders met a brick wall at a meeting with the northern elders to convince them to prevail on Saraki to step down from the race.
The leaders, it was gathered, had argued that the north east being the zone with the highest vote cast in the presidential election should be given the slot. “They also cautioned that the PDP senators might take advantage of the division to take over the leadership of the senate,” the source added.
“The APC leaders where told pointblank that it was not going to be possible to persuade the former governor of Kwara, having earlier prevailed on him not to contest the presidency with Buhari.”