Despite the unveiling of Senator Godswill Akpabio as their preferred candidate for senate president, majority of members-elect of the 10th National Assembly have vowed to make independent choice of leaders at the inauguration of the parliament.
It will be recalled that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday announced Akpabio as its consensus candidate while also chosing Hon. Tajudeen Abbas for the speakership of the House.
In a publication by Vanguard this evening, it was gathered that the choice was yet to be accepted by majority of the members-elect.
The zoning formula was reported to have provoked the senators-elect to reinvigorate their earlier quest to vote for their choice in the duo of Abdulaziz Yari and current Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for the top two leadership positions in the Red Chambers.
The same feeling pervades the House of Representatives.
The members said that choices ran at variance with the open contest practice which the President-elect benefitted from during the APC presidential primaries.
A prominent Northwest Senator-Elect who pleaded not to be named, described the actions of Tinubu as not only disappointing but provocative, saying that Akpabio was an unpopular candidate.
He said it was dictatorial to impose an individual candidate on them. He said: “The plan of the APC to impose a candidate to the National Assembly is dead on arrival.”
The lawmaker recalled that President Buhari, Northern Governors and the APC pushed for zoning of the Presidency to the South without selecting any preferred presidential candidate but rather than allow an open contest to give all candidates from the region equal opportunity, the president-elect and the party decided to handpick someone for them.
He noted that Tinubu would have stood no chance of becoming President if the president and the party leadership had drafted a candidate into the contest.
Also, a third-term senator from north east region of the country also disclosed that northern Senators were working across party lines to ensure that democratic tenets prevailed on the inauguration day.
Similarly, a senator-elect from the South South who didn’t want his name mentioned recalled that in 2019, the party avoided the mistake of foisting their preferred candidate on the legislature but rather announced the zoning of the position to the North East which availed candidates from the region to test their popularity at the floor of the Senate in which the current Senate President, Ahmad Lawan later emerged after defeating Senate Ali Ndume.
He said that forcing candidates on the legislature was against the provisions of the constitution.
“We won’t be cowed to the bidding of the president-elect, as a matter of fact, we already have our own candidates who we are sure will work in the best interest of Nigerians, acrimony free Senate and also the the executive arm of government. To say the least, we are confident in the joint ticket of Senators Yari and Orji Kalu.
“Either of them are good to go for any of the two positions of Senate President and Deputy Senate President”, the senator-elect said.
In the same vein, a member-elect of the House from one of the opposition parties told Vanguard in confidence in that APC was in for a shock.
He said that the opposition parties were working assiduously to upstage the ruling party, boasting with their numerical strength of 183 members-elect.
The Rep-elect recalled that the minority caucus had already set up a 13 man committee to recommend amongst its ranks people of high moral integrity, competence and track record to contest for speaker and deputy speaker of the House.