The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday ordered all the party’s members-elect in the National Assembly to vote Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively during the inauguration of the 9th federal legislature today.
The NWC gave the directive after a meeting with the APC governors and its members-elect in the National Assembly in Abuja on Monday.
This is as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) directed its members-elect to vote the former Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, and Umar Bago both of the APC, as the 9th National Assembly’s Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, respectively.
The APC NWC’s meeting also endorsed Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Idris Wase as Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
Ndume from Borno State, who had also declared for the Senate President, was absent from the APC meeting.
Among the contestants also absent from the APC meeting were Senator Francis Alimikhena, Kabiru Gaya and a former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said, “We have all agreed as a caucus to endorse senator Lawan for Senate President and Senator Omo-Agege as the Deputy Senate President.
“We have also agreed to endorse Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Wase as deputy speaker. These four are the APC nominees for the respective positions. The governors and members-elect were unanimous in adopting this position.”
He thanked other aspirants for agreeing to step down despite being qualified to contest the positions in order to preserve the unity of the APC and the interest of the country at large.
Specifically, Oshiomhole thanked Senator Danjuma Goje from Gombe State for stepping down for Lawan and Senator Francis Alimikhena for assuring him to support Omo-Agege.
He also thanked Senator Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo State), Olusegun Odebunmi and Nkiruika Onyejeocha among others for agreeing to step down for the party’s candidates.
Oshiomhole noted that those that stepped down were eminently qualified to contest the positions.
“They offered to step down as a mark of honour for the President and leadership of the party. They are all unanimous to back these candidates as the APC candidates for the good of the country,” he said.
Oshiomhole commended Lawan and Gbajabiamila for travelling the length and breadth of the country to woo members of the opposition in order to build bipartisan cooperation, which he noted, had been helpful to their course.
“I believe together we will work to take Nigeria to the next level,” he said.
Oshiomhole urged Ndume to respect the party’s position, which he said, was the position of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He added, “For now we are still trying to talk to Senator Ali Ndume but I believe he is a democrat; he understands that it is important to listen to the voice of the majority and accept the decision of the majority. It is all about sacrifice.
“For those who have agreed to step down, they did so because they realise at a point in time, only one person will lead.
“I believe that my friend, Ndume, will not be a lone ranger; he will respect the party and the President who is the leader of the party. I do not have any fear that he will respect the decision of the party.”
Earlier, the NWC had urged all aspirants for the presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly to step down and support the anointed candidates of the party.
The party made the declaration at the end of its NWC emergency meetings held over Saturday and Sunday.
A statement issued in the early hours of Monday by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, restated that the duo of Lawan and Gbajabiamila were the party’s candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
Ndume from Borno and Umar Bago representing Chanchanga constituency of Niger State in the House of Representatives on the APC platform among other aspirants had declared for the positions.
But the party said it arrived at the conclusion following wide consultations with President Buhari and party stakeholders, including the APC governors.
“All elected APC members of the Senate and House of Representatives are hereby directed to fully mobilise as a united force behind the party’s choices.
“Members who have earlier signified interests in these positions are urged to support the party’s decisions as loyal and committed members of the APC by working with other members to ensure the emergence of the adopted candidates,” the statement said.
But rising from a meeting the members of the National Working Committee of the PDP had with its lawmakers-elect in Abuja on Monday night, the party said it would support Ndume to become the President of the Senate in the 9th National Assembly.
In the same vein, the main opposition party is also giving tacit support to the ambition of Umar Bago to lead the House of Representatives as its speaker.
The meeting was presided over by the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus.
When contacted, Secondus confirmed the position taken by the party.
He said, “As the opposition political party, we must be seen to play responsible opposition role. Yes, none of the two presiding officers we are rooting for belong to the PDP, but we know that as a critical member of the National Assembly, we must have a say in the election of its leaders. This is the reason why we are backing both Ndume and Bago.” – Punch.