Reminiscence of the 2015 election for principal positions in the 8th Senate, the race for the same positions in the 10th Senate is going down the wire as those chosen by the All Progressives Congress, APC, as its preferred choices appeared to have failed to secure the total cooperation of opposition members with barely three days left for their inauguration.
The opposition parties, who are in the majority in the lower house with 181 members, are keeping their cards close to their chests and making the APC play the waiting game.
While no candidate of the opposition parties has announced his interest for any position, there are feelings that there could be a shock announcement on Tuesday when the National Assembly would be convened.
The leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday hinted that the opposition parties had interest in what would transpire on Tuesday.
It revealed that the party was in talks with other members of the opposition parties, to tilt the balance of power in the opposition’s favour.
The PDP scribe, Debo Ologunagba said, “The PDP leadership is working together with our members-elect and opposition parties in the two Chambers.
“Irrespective of the ongoing claims in the media, I want to inform you that the PDP has a clear direction which we hold closer to our chest.”
But the PDP and other opposition parties may not have it their way, as a member-elect from Abia State on the platform of the Labour Party, Amobi Ogar, has endorsed the candidates of the president.
Speaking after the meeting Tinubu had with some elected lawmakers on Wednesday night, Ogar said, “Now, even without talking to us again, we’ve agreed that we are going towards the government decision. Not minding, I’m from the Labour Party.
“As of now, the party is not the issue; we’re talking about building the Nation, we’re talking about the unity of the nation.”
After the Wednesday meeting with senators-elect and members-elect as well as some governors at the presidential villa, sources have hinted that Tinubu did not direct other aspirants to step down.
Rather, “He appealed that we should forget about party politics and face national interest. That was the major part of his speech.
“He didn’t mention anybody’s name to be voted for. Maybe he’s appealing but I didn’t hear anybody’s name,” a member-elect for Enugu East/Isiuzo federal constituency told the Punch after the meeting.
THE WHISTLER had reported that Tinubu would not abandon those he had anointed as announced by the party but may rather allow other aspirants to vie for the seats.
A member-elect who attended the meeting confirmed the report saying Tinubu “enjoined everybody to support the choice they have made and work together.”
But if the contest within the APC is not worrisome and could easily be managed, it’s the opposition that is posing the problem to Akpabio and Abbas.
This is due to the fluid nature of the opposition parties, which have failed to announce a consensus with a member of the PDP, who’s going to be a freshman in the House telling THE WHISTLER on Friday that, “lose control means APC anointed candidate (as you called them) cannot tap anyone in particular.”
The opposition parties feel they are strengthened by the lack of unity within the APC, hoping that unity on their part could enable them decide what happens when the 10th Assembly is convened on June 13.
As of the time of filing this report, repeated rapprochement from both Akpabio and Abbas’ sides for aspirants within the APC to step down has not yielded any result.
“They have been promised ‘juicy’ committees but no result yet,” a source close to Akpabio told this paper on Friday.
Akpabio, when contacted, did not respond but the member of his camp blamed the party leadership for “allowing other aspirants to oppose the choice of the party. Are they too big for the party to ask them to step down?
“If they are not doing the bidding of the party, would the party be quiet?”
When asked if he expected the party to browbeat them, he said “That’s not it, whatever that means even if that’s possible but it’s about putting one’s authority on the ground.”
A former aide to the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who is now in Abbas’ camp said, “Yes, despite the announcement, no consensus yet but we see how it goes on Tuesday.
“It’s worrisome but I don’t think what happened in 2015, when Saraki (Bukola) defied the party’s order would re-occur. You can see how he has ended up, including all those who supported him,” he said.
A member of the Murkta Betara group revealed that, “He’s contesting, he’s not stepping down. It’s a contest till the last day.
“He’s a formidable opponent that’s feared by the ‘other side’,” referring to the Abbas camp.
However, on Friday, while speaking on Arise TV, former Ebonyi Governor, a Senator-elect, Dave Umahi, said “I see a bright future for this ticket,” in his reference to the Akpabio ticket.
Umahi is a strong campaigner for Akpabio and few days ago, joined former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in a visit to Tinubu at the presidential villa in their bid to ensure Akpabio emerges on Tuesday.
Umahi also revealed that, “Over 70% of elected PDP senators-elect are in support of Akpabio,” saying “they have to put the interest of the nation first.”
Apart from Akpabio, other candidates seeking to be Senate President are Osita Osinazu (Imo), Abdul-Azeez Yari (Zamfara), and Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia State).
For the House of Representatives, Princess Miriam Onuoha is a candidate for the Speakership as well as Abbas, Batera, Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Sada Soli, Aminu Sani Jaji and Idris Wase, the immediate past deputy speaker.