Opinion

9th Senate-SARAKI’S STRATEGY IN ACTION–By Samuel Oduoye

Four years down the line, it seems that Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not learnt from the mistake that cost it the leadership of the 8th Senate in 2015.

Through the combination of internal wrangling and selfish interests, the APC and its senators couldn’t agree on a single candidate for the Senate leadership. The current Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who was then in the APC, took advantage of his friendship with Peoples Democratic (PDP) senators to become the country’s, third man.

This didn’t go down well with APC leaders, but the damage was already done.

Now that that administration is about to end, and Saraki couldn’t win his reelection, the outgoing Senate President is scheming with incoming PDP senators to influence the emergence of new leaders of the 9th Senate.

Saraki, who had reportedly planned to re-content for Senate Presidency had he not lost, is leading an influential group in the Senate, comprising principally the PDP senators. This group also includes some APC senators who crave his influence to win the support of the PDP caucus.

The outgoing Senate President is said to be working on the 2015 template with which he emerged as Senate President with the candidate of the opposition PDP caucus, Ike Ekweremadu, as Deputy Senate President.

Both the currents senators and incoming ones have decided to work with and support any APC senator that was amenable to its proposal to accommodate the PDP caucus in the Senate leadership. Their interest is specifically to retaining the position of the Deputy Senate President.

A source close to the PDP caucus revealed that, “The group has come up with Plans “A”, “B” and “C”, preparatory to the horse-trading that is expected to characterise the race for the position of the Senate President.

“The group’s Plan A is to sponsor one of them for the position of the Senate President in the event that two or more members of the APC caucus present themselves for the position on the floor of the Senate.

“If it becomes difficult for the group to activate Plan “A”, it was agreed that it should support Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe in North East) who, according to members of the group, was more amenable; and, they believe that with him, they could win the position of Deputy Senate President.

“The group’s Plan “C” in case plans “A” and “B” fail is to support Senator Ahmed Lawan who they believe would not act to adversely affect the group’s interests.”

With the PDP already having 42 senators-elect, the party only needs 14 senators from the APC to disagree with the zoning arrangement of the party and pitch their tents with the PDP.

The PDP’s plan is hinged on the APC having two candidates, which will create a room for lobbying within the Senate. The number of Senators-elect is sufficient for the opposition party to take over the upper legislative chamber, either directly or by putting a friendly person there.

Speaking on the danger of Saraki’s plan to the APC, the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, who had declared his intention to contest for the Senate Presidency, insists that APC senators would act in unity to ensure that the APC takes over the leadership of the 9th Senate.

Lawan said, “We have learnt our lessons as a party. I believe that the issue of the National Assembly leadership will be given maximum attention to ensure that the two chambers have leadership that would function well and collaborate well with the executive for good governance.

“Many of us in the APC believe that we are going to listen to what our party will advise us to do and follow our party’s instructions.

“I don’t think that there is a single senator-elect who wants to antagonize or challenge the leadership of the party and naturally, we are expecting that the leadership of our party will come out with suggestions on the way and manner that the leadership of the 9th National Asse

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