Following in the footsteps of the South-West caucus, the North-West caucus of the Senate on Thursday endorsed the candidacy of Alhaji Ahme d Lawan for President of the 8th Nigerian Senate.
At a meeting of the North-West caucus co-chaired by Abu Ibrahim (Katsina), Kabiru Gaya (Kano) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), which was attended by 18 of the 21 senators from the zone, in Abuja, the senators unanimously resolved to support Lawan from Yobe North in the North-East.
The South-West caucus had earlier on Tuesday endorsed him.
A source at the North-West meeting said the senators adopted Lawan because of his integrity and his not having a case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Another reason cited is consistency in opposition since 1999, just as he is adjudged to be experienced.
“We feel he is the right person that can drive the change agenda of the incoming Buhari administration.
“Moreover, he has never held any executive position,” the source added.
Lawan is currently chairman of the Senate committee on Public Accounts and is credited with standing his ground in holding the executive arm accountable.
His legislative experience includes a stint in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, when he moved over to the Senate.
The endorsement by the South-West and North-West places Lawan as a frontrunner in the race for who emerges President of the Eighth Senate, next month.
Before now, the race for the number three office was a two-horse race between North Central and North East, even as the South East still fancies an outside chance, despite not boasting of any senator from the region elected under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party seems to be split between Minority Leader, George Akume, and Senator Bukola Saraki as successor to incumbent Senate President, David Mark.
Just this week, Akume was said to have begun subtle moves to get the nod ahead of Saraki and has been lobbying top chieftains of the party to get their blessing.
He was reported to have met with National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos to rally support ahead of what could prove to be a keen battle.
However, both Akume and Saraki are wary of Lawan’s ambition, as he could pull a surprise just like it happened in the House of Representatives in 2011 where Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) emerged Speaker ahead of the candidate from the South West, Mulikat Akande-Adeola who was all but sure of getting the position.
The uncertainty on who gets what has not been helped by the inability of the APC National Executive Committee to come out with a blueprint on how it intends to zone the offices, a norm that would have limited the jostle for key positions.
Dogara advised against welding powers excessively to avoid the crush of the party.
He spoke in Abuja, while declaring his intention to contest the speakership position in the 8th Assembly.
Dogara who represent Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State and a ranking member of the House, said his decision to contest is to consolidate on the achievements by the 7th Assembly which has also opened up the independence of the legislature.
According to the lawmaker, the best option to wield a stronger relationship between the legislative and the executive arms of the government is for the party to ensure a level playing field is created for all interested candidates to participate in the election process.
Also on Thursday, APC National Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun challenged the PDP to provide a virile and constructive opposition to the incoming government that the APC will form beginning from May 29.
In that way, Odigie-Oyegun, who received a delegation of the Former Governors Forum at the APC national secretariat, said democracy will thrive in the country if and when the opposition party, which in this case will be the PDP, keeps the ruling party on its toes.
He said “every single well intended head because the problem confronting us demands collective efforts to surmount.
“Nigeria is going through peaceful democratic revolution, all that is happening in the country at present shows that politics do not have to be wars.
“This country needs every single well intended head because the problem confronting us demands collective efforts to surmount,” he said.
While speaking on the historic victory of APC at the last presidential election, Oyegun said all Nigerians should see themselves as victors, adding that the outcome of the election will serve a lesson for our political leaders.
“It is good that this trashing came the way of the PDP because the party has become very used to power to the extent that it’s leaders were becoming arrogant.
“For the PDP, they are part of the history and history in the making. All they need to do is to go into retrospection. We will be glad to have a virile opposition. We want the PDP to be strong enough to be able to keep us on our toes.”
Oyegun described the visit of the former governors as very unique because the personalities involved cut across all divides and parts of the country.
The former governor of Anambra state, Chief Jim Nwobodo who spoke on behalf of the former governors said, Nigerian leaders should learn to eschew bitterness in politics and to support whoever emerges victorious at an election.
Nwobodo who particularly expressed concern over the fractionalization of the governors forum, said there is no reason the country should be having two parallel bodies representing governor of APC and PDP.
Nwobodo said,” the people of this country have voted for Buhari because they know whom he is. We of the former governors forum will support Buhari as he assumes office to govern as from May 29”.
“I really do not feel it is good for us to have two former governor’s forum. It is good to have united body regardless of whichever party leanings. On behalf of the forum I congratulate you.”
He noted that this year’s election has drawn much attention second to the first election held in 1960.
He recalled that the group had visited the APC to share views with the APC
Nwobodo, who was accompanied by former governors Balarabe Musa, Orji Uzor Kalu, Senator Ahmed Markarafi, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chief Fidelis Tapgun, Niyi Adabayo, and Dr. Odera Mbadinuju commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his rare act of humility in conceeding defeat at the polls thereby stemming the anticipated tension and crisis.
The former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu said the parties in opposition now will take up the challenge posed by Oyegun and will definitely provide a strong and virile opposition in the days ahead.
On the side of the APC during the meeting were, the party’s Woman Leader, Hajia Ramatu Aliyu, National Auditor, Chief George Moughalu, National Vice Chairman (S/east), National Secretary, Mai Bala Buni.