•Outgoing Senate president, David Mark
Ahead of one-day retreat organised by All Progressives Congress (APC) for its senators-elect in Abuja tomorrow, checks indicated that the party will hold an open primary to select a sole candidate from Senators Ahmad Lawan (Yobe, North-East), Bukola Saraki (Kwara, North-Central), George Akume (Benue, North-Central) and Ali Mohammed Ndume (Borno, North-East). to succeed David Mark as Senate president next month.
A ranking senator from the South-West told Daily Sun that the APC was set to organise primary election for all contenders for the Senate Presidency, “much in line with how the primary was conducted to select our presidential candidate in 2014.”
All 59 senators and senators-elect of the party would be delegates at the primary. The ranks of the APC senators depleted by one, with the death on May 16 of Borno Satate senator, Ahmed Khlaifa Zannah.
It is yet unclear whether the primary would hold in Abuja or Lagos, but it was gathered that all the 59 senators and senators-elect were “expected to sign an undertaking to abide by the party’s position on whoever emerges as the party’s candidate after the primary.
“Thereafter, the runner-up is expected to emerge as the deputy Senate president. In the event where the runner-up is from the same zone as the winner of the primary, another primary election would be conducted and whoever emerges would be the deputy,” a source said.
However, some senators were said to be unhappy with the arrangement and prefer that senators were allowed to “choose our leader in the chamber,” said a senator from the North-West, who declined to be named.
Checks by Daily Sun revealed that the major contenders had since sited their campaign headquarters at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja and spending heavily with block bookings for presidential suites every week.
It was gathered that aspirants now hold court, and also, hold regular consultations and schedule meetings with their returning colleagues as well as the senators- elect across the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the presidential suits.
Another ranking senator privy to the arrangement claimed that “aspirants have been picking hotel bills of members of the incoming Eighth Senate, almost immediately after the one-week induction programme organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).
Meanwhile, about 65 senators, under the aegis of The Like Minds, have vowed never to allow imposition of a new Senate leadership “by some highly influential members of the APC.”
They argued that the initial decision to zone the position of presiding officers of both chambers and the endorsement of certain aspirants by some caucuses, was to ensure the emergence of anointed aspirants that would be imposed on the lawmakers.