The senator representing Borno south, Mr. Ali Ndume, said he is rooting for the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio to become the senate president because he (Akpabio) is the preferred candidate of President Bola Tinubu.
Recall that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had on May 8, announced Akpabio as its preferred candidate for the office. Nevertheless, the former governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Abdulaziz Yari, senate chief whip and former governor of Abia State, Mr. Orji Kalu and the former member of the party’s national working committee, Mr. Osita Izunaso, have thrown their hats into the ring.
Speaking yesterday on ‘Politics Today’ programme on Channels Television, Ndume said President Bola Tinubu had assigned him to lead Akpabio’s campaign and ensure he heads the 10th senate.
“There are so many that contributed to my reason to stand for Akpabio, because one, the president had interest and had Akpabio as his preferred candidate and number two, he had the confidence of asking me to lead the campaign.
“Most importantly, it is about justice, about equity, about the constitution and doing what is right and standing for what is just for this country.
“This country belongs to all of us. The constitution says that the country should be run in such a way that no tribe or religion in this country will feel marginalised.
“The right thing to do is to get someone from the south-south particularly and the beneficiary of that happens to be Akpabio. He is the most ranking from that area; he has the experience and he is from the south-south,” Ndume said.
Similarly, the former commissioner for information in Edo State, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, said Akpabio deserves position because of his contribution to the victory of the party.
Speaking on Arise TV on Thursday, Afegbua said Akpabio delivered over 30,000 votes to secure the victory Tinubu.
He said the south-south geopolitical zone, which is the treasure base of the country, should be supported to produce the next senate president.
He said the south-east has produced over five senate presidents and should not see the position as an entitlement.
“The point must be made that if you know that you are actually a full-fledged member of the APC, you will know that it is captured that anybody that is joining the APC at any point in time, they call it equal joiner.
“So the idea of you being there for eight years and somebody who is coming now does not even arise. What is sacrosanct is the contribution you are bringing to help knock this on the part of victory.
“Now, a man who just came into the party, according to your explanation, is contesting right? He was able to deliver over 30,000 votes to the president-elect.
“You that have been in the party, you are not able to deliver 30,000 votes to the president of your party. Who is more relevant?
“So this sense of entitlement must be discountenanced with all seriousness. I’ve said it before, the south-east has produced five senate presidents, I don’t want it to be a matter of entitlement and when they keep talking about tripod arrangement in Nigeria.
“You went into an election in 2023, the Osita you’re talking about returned as a senator, defeating other candidates, the same election, the same hour, the same time, Osita could not pull the same votes for his presidential candidate.
“So for me, it is about what you bring to the table. This time around the south-south geopolitical zone, the treasure base of the country, the resource base of the country deserves and desires with all emphasis the position of senate president and we support wholeheartedly the choice of Senator Godswill Akpabio as the preferred candidate and he remains the man to date,” he said
He also stated that anyone trying to toy with that choice or that recognition by the party will only be fanning the embers of trouble.
However, a group known as Coalition for Parliamentary Democracy (CPD) has asked Akpabio to surrender his ambition and support Yari.
The national coordinator of the group, Mr. Menike Johnson, said senators-elect interested in running for senate president should show capacity and not rely on zoning, adding that imposing leadership on the on the senate goes against the grain of democratic practice
“CPD in tandem with other pro-democracy organisations insists that those interested in the office of the senate president should rather marshal their agenda to Nigerians and senators-elect and not rely on retrogressive and sectional arguments of zoning.
“They should not rely on external endorsements which is undemocratic, promotes mediocrity, incompetence and breeds a corrupt and rubber stamp parliamentary leadership that cannot serve the interest of the people.
“Imposing leadership on senate could lead to more division in the APC and create a frosty legislature/executive relationship which is not in the interest of the nation at this critical time of our national history.
“The senate does not belong to a particular political party but to Nigerians.
“In the same vein, senate leadership positions are serious positions that require capacity and willpower and not retail commodities that will be allocated to mediocrity and incompetence on the platter of zoning.
“The CPD therefore urges the senators-elect to assert the independence of the legislature and the principle of the separation of powers in serving the interest of Nigerians by upholding competence and not zoning in the election of a new senate president,” the statement said.