The race for the leadership of the 9th session of the National Assembly is on, just a week after the election into the legislative arm.
Already in contention are the Senate Presidency and the Speakership of the House of Representatives.
There are about five candidates are seeking to head the 9th Senate when it is inaugurated in June.
They are the outgoing Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan; a former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume; a former Governor of Gombe State and the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje; and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Support Group (PSG), ex-Governor Adamu Abdullahi.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State who is also being touted as a possible candidate does not seem to stand a chance on account of zoning as he is from the same zone -Southwest- and same state -Ogun- as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He was suspended by the National Working Committee of APC on Friday for alleged anti party activities and recommended for expulsion by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC).
For now, only the current Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is the front runner in the race for the Speakership of the Green Chambers, although the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is allegedly hatching a plot to push outgoing Speaker Yakubu Dogara for a return to the seat.
Dogara emerged in controversial circumstances in 2015 to clinch the post and sources said the PDP to which he now belongs may look for an alternative to Dogara in a desperate bid to stop Gbajabiamila, on the strength of his closeness to the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
PDP is banking on a likely split in the All Progressives Congress (APC) House Caucus to return Dogara as Speaker.
But pressure is mounting on President Muhammadu Buhari to take charge to avert a repeat of the political scheming which led to the emergence of the outgoing President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara in 2015 against the directive of the APC.
It was also gathered that some forces in APC want party leaders to prevail on the President to give members of the National Assembly a free hand to elect their leaders.
Results of the last National Assembly elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), shows that the APC won 65 of the 109 (about 59%) senatorial seats in the country, leaving the PDP with 41 Senatorial seats (37%) and Young Progressives Party’s (YPP) one seat (1%).
The APC has also won 200 of the 360 House of Representatives seats – leaving PDP with well over 100 seats. The final figure for the two major parties is still not clear as there are still unresolved election contests for several House of Representatives seats.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that although the APC has the majority of the seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, the emergence of the President of the Senate and the Speaker will still require the input of the PDP.
It was learnt that the APC will need two-thirds majority in the Senate (about 73 votes) to be able to pass any bill.
The APC secured 61 seats in the Red Chambers in 2015 before the PDP infiltrated its ranks to secure the office of the Deputy President of the Senate for Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Following the development, all the candidates aspiring to lead the Senate and the House have started reaching out to elected PDP members.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The horse-trading to lead the Senate and the House of Representatives has begun.
“It is going to be a tough contest because all the candidates are ranking. For example, Ndume has been in the National Assembly for 16 years with eight years spent in the House and another eight years in the Senate. Lawan has been a Senator since 2007 with Adamu and Goje joining in 2011.
“Some governors and APC stalwarts are gambling with the choice of Governor Ibikunle Amosun to lead the Senate as a bosom friend of the President. They have linked the suspension of the governor to the plot to install him as Senate President.
“This jostling for power is despite of the fact that the APC is yet to define its zoning or power sharing formula. Those aspiring to lead the National Assembly are banking on the 2015 formula of the APC, which ceded the Senate Presidency to the Northeast and the Speaker to the Southwest, before the President of the Senate, Speaker Dogara and some APC lawmakers revolted.
“The lack of zoning formula made ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State in the Northcentral to join the race. As the chairman of the Parliamentary Support Group which resisted the outgoing Senate President to save President Buhari, he believes he should lead the Senate.
Responding to a question, the source said: “All the candidates are already lobbying not only to have the Senate presidency and House Speaker zoned to their areas but to be anointed.
“Unless it is carefully managed, the Senate may witness a repeat of the 2015 crisis which PDP took advantage of.”
Sources said that although Gbajabiamila has a brighter chance to be the next Speaker, the PDP might still resist him.
It was reliably gathered that the PDP might back Dogara’s return as Speaker by depending on a possible split in the APC caucus. It was also learnt that the PDP might throw mud at Gbajabiamila like it did in 2015 in order to stop the APC candidate.
Another source said: “The PDP is working on another joker to checkmate Gbajabiamila’s ambition again. Some PDP leaders are uncomfortable with Gbajabiamila, who is a political son of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who worked harder to ensure the defeat of PDP at the presidential poll.
“PDP actually wants Dogara back in line with its pre-election plans. The opposition can only succeed if the APC Caucus in the House is disunited.
“The only challenge APC is facing is about likely imposition of the Senate President and the Speaker. Most of the candidates want the race left open equitably.
“This is why some APC leaders are pleading with President Muhammadu Buhari and party leaders to meet and work out an equitable power sharing module.”
The source added: “I think in the next two months, the game will be more interesting. If Dogara’s candidacy does not fly, PDP might sponsor another ranking member from the Southwest to be the Speaker.”
A source in government said: “President Buhari has really not shown interest now on those who will lead the National Assembly. Maybe he has a mindset but he is yet to discuss with party leaders.”
Lawan is spending his 2oth year in the National Assembly having being elected into the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003 before becoming a Senator.
Set up zoning mechanism for NASS leadership to avoid 2015 scenario, Nabena tells APC
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yekini Nabena, yesterday asked the leadership of the party to set in motion machinery for the zoning and selection of preferred principal officers of the incoming 9th National Assembly.
In a statement in Abuja, he said this was necessary to avoid a repeat of the crisis that engulfed the party in 2015 over the struggle for the leadership of the legislative arm.
Describing the National Assembly as strategic to APC’s change agenda for the country, he said President Muhammadu Buhari’s direct involvement and views on the matter “will be very important as the party works around the zoning and selection arrangements for principal NASS officers.”
He added: “The Peoples Democratic Party has lost the presidential election and they have now adopted a plan B from their infamous Dubai strategy meeting.
“The plan is to hijack the incoming National Assembly leadership by repeating their heinous coup in the previous Assembly.
“The APC must prevent a repeat of a situation where despite our overwhelming majority in the outgoing 8th Senate and House of Representatives, its leadership was hijacked by saboteurs and their opposition PDP collaborators.”