By Abimbola Ogunnaike
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All progressive Congress (APC) has appealed to elected members of the National Assembly to support Senator Godswill Akpabio (APC, Akwa Ibom) to become the Senate President and Hon. Tajudeen Abbas (APC, Kaduna) as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Daily Trust reports
Tinubu said his appeal became necessary so as to have a common front devoid of sentiment to salvage Nigeria, for the lawmakers to respect the choices of the ruling party which is a convention, saying it is always the ruling party that produces the presiding officers of the National Assembly.
Based on these, President Tinubu therefore advised those from the opposition party not to support any move by any group that might attempt to decapitate the convention
He also added that it would be a great honour to him, if the lawmakers-elect collectively backed the ruling party chosen candidates for the leadership of the National Assembly
Tinubu said this when he met a joint session of the National Assembly member-elect comprising senators and members of the House of Representatives across all parties.
Multiple sources at the meeting told the medium that Tinubu, while calling for a common front devoid of sentiments to salvage Nigeria, the legislators to respect the choices of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the National Assembly leadership.
Tinubu reportedly said he had respect for the individual choices of the legislators but quickly added that it would be a great honour to him, if they collectively throw their weight behind his chosen candidates, Akpabio and Tajudeen, as well as Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano) and Benjamen Kalu (APC, Abia) as Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, respectively, in the interest of carrying all the geopolitical zones along.
Outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and now Chief of Staff to the President, who was at the meeting, commended Tinubu for initiating the gathering, saying it will further strengthen the mutual relationship between the executive and the legislative arm of government.
The meeting was attended by Akpabio, as well as former Governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi and Edo, Adams Oshiomhole.
Others were: Senator Osita Izunaso, former Governors Sani Bello, Niger; Aliyu Wamakko, Sokoto; amongst others.
Tajudeen Abbas was also present.
But Senator-elect Abdulaziz Yari and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, who have ambition to become the President of the Senate and Speaker, respectively, were conspicuously missing at the meeting.
It was, however, reliably gathered that Tinubu’s request did not go down well with some contenders, who have resolved to go ahead with the aspiration.
Yesterday’s meeting was one of several engagements between the president, lawmakers and other stakeholders ahead of inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13.
There are 109 senators and 360 House of Representatives members drawn from about eight political parties from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
In the Senate, the APC has 59 senators, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 36; Labour Party (LP) eight, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) two, Social Democratic Party (SDP) two, Young Progressives Party (YPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) one seat each.
In the House of Representatives, members elected under the platform of the opposition parties put together, outnumbered the ruling party. The opposition parties have a total of 181 while the ruling APC has 179.
It was, however, reliably gathered that Tinubu’s request did not go down well with some contenders, who have resolved to go ahead with the aspiration. Yesterday’s meeting was one of several engagements between the president, lawmakers and other stakeholders ahead of inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13.
‘Why Akpabio, Tajudeen?
A source close to the ruling APC and the Presidency said unlike what happened in the recent past, Tinubu was trying to talk to all those that mattered so that he would not be seen to be “unbothered or dictatorial.”
“He respects the legislators and he is not unmindful of their independence. However, all over the world, there is no country where the president will not have interest in those who will lead the legislature. It is not about having absolute control on wha t they do; it is about establishing synergy for the betterment of the country.
“Therefore, when he met all the members, he told them to support the candidates of the party. He told them he means well for Nigeria and he will not meddle in their internal dealings.
“It was a frank talk and from all indications, the majority of the legislators have agreed to vote for the president’s candidate. This was clear in the way they gave him a standing ovation after he finished his speech. They all stood up and this is a sign of respect, a sign of acceptance.”
On whether the legislators were given an opportunity to talk, the source said, “One of them, who I think is from the South East, stood up and said he was convinced by what Tinubu said.
“He, however, made a passionate appeal to the president to respect federal character in the process of making more appointments.”
Another source explained what Tinubu told all the 36 state governors when he met with them at the Villa on Wednesday.
“It was his first meeting with all the governors led by their chairman, Governor AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman of Kwara State, although he had met with governors of his party last Friday.
“The meeting was significant because it was across party lines. He appreciated them and told them that they are partners in progress; the elections were over and it is time to deliver promises.
“But most importantly, he sought for their support in the selection of leaders of the National Assembly. He said governors are very powerful and drive enormous respect from legislators from their state.
“It is based on this that he pleaded that they should curry support from their respective legislators in order to have rancour free 10th National Assembly.
“Besides, he reminded the governors that by convention, it is always the ruling party that produces the presiding officers of the National Assembly and therefore advised those from the opposition party not to support any move by any group that might attempt to decapitate the convention,” the source said.
Source: Daily Trust