•President called for zoning, failed to name anointed aspirants – Sources
•Opposition parties claim majority, plot to use number against APC candidates
Five days to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, President Bola Tinubu’s meetings with lawmakers-elect failed to resolve the crisis over the All Progressives Congress zoning arrangement.
The APC National Working Committee had micro-zoned the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President seats to Senator Godswill Akpabio from South-South and Senator Jibrin Barau from North-West, respectively.
But other aspirants like Senators Abdulaziz Yari, (Zamfara West); Osita Izunaso (Imo West) and Orji Kalu (Abia North) have insisted that they would not step down for the party’s consensus candidate.
In the House, the APC leadership had also endorsed the member-elect representing Kaduna (North-West), Tajudeen Abbas, as speakership candidate, while the member-elect from Abia State (South-East), Benjamin Kalu, clinched the Deputy Speaker slot.
The aspirants, who were among the lawmakers who held a meeting with the President at the Aso Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday night, were still lobbying their colleagues and strategising to upturn the APC’s zoning arrangement for the NASSS principal positions as of Thursday.
This is happening as the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party have concluded plans to frustrate the APC’s plan for the NASS leadership offices.
The PDP confirmed on Thursday it had entered an agreement with other opposition parties to leverage on their numbers in influencing the election of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Findings by The PUNCH indicated that at least two members of the G-7, a group of anti-zoning aspirants for the speaker position, might contest against Abbas.
The group has, however, not officially declared its consensus candidate to run against Abbas.
While Abbas is from Kaduna State in the North-West, members of the G-7 who are from the same geopolitical zone with the APC candidate are Sani Jaji from Zamfara State and Sada Soli from Katsina State.
The PUNCH learnt on Thursday that despite his interventions, aspirants were capitalising on the fact that the President during his meetings with the aspirants and the members-elect did not directly ask for support for Abbas and Kalu.
Member-elect for the Ningi/Warji Federal Constituency in Bauchi State, Adamu Ranga, told one of our correspondents that the President did not voice support for any of the candidates vying for the senate or House leadership, but he simply called for a united front.
Ranga said, “Mr President spoke to the general assembly, both Senate and the House of Representatives, in order to ensure that we have a solid government. Secondly, he emphasised that he will perform an open-door policy for everybody.
“Whoever wants to see him can see him without any hindrance. And whatever you want to discuss with him, he will give you that privilege to discuss. Thirdly, he said we should put our constituency first since we are here to represent them. He mentioned that he wants the Senate and the House to cooperate to elect good leaders.”
A member-elect for Enugu East/Isiuzo Federal Constituency, Prof Paul Nnamchi, told The PUNCH that Tinubu appealed to lawmakers to uphold national interest.
“He appealed that we should forget about party politics and face national interest. That was the major part of his speech. He didn’t mention anybody’s name to be voted for. Maybe he is appealing, but I didn’t hear anybody’s name,” Nnamchi said.
Sources in the G-7 also confirmed that Tinubu asked members-elect to work with the zoning plan of the APC, clearing the way for aspirants for a position allocated to a particular zone to contest against themselves.
A source close to Jaji and Wase said, “Prior to yesterday (Wednesday meeting), there was a meeting of the aspirants with Tinubu at the State House. He was not categorical. What he told them there and then was that the zoning stands.
‘’But he did not say ‘support Abbas’ but he said ‘zoning of the party stands.’ So, invariably, what he was trying to tell them, based on our interpretation, is that those aspirants from that zone can go ahead and contest.”
When asked about Wase who has said he would be the next Speaker of the House despite being from Plateau State in the North-Central, where no leadership position was zoned to, the source admitted that “it does not favour him.”
However, the source stated, “That is what Tinubu told members-elect on that day. I can confirm that one,” adding that, “It leaves Jaji, Soli and Abbas – the three of them – to slug it out.”
When asked to be categorical if Jaji was going ahead to contest against Abbas, the source said, ‘Yes, he is.” The source, however, could not say the same about Wase.
The source further disclosed that Jaji held a meeting with some members-elect at his Abuja office on Thursday afternoon, as part of his continued lobbying for votes.
While the source faulted the reports that Wase and Jaji shunned the Wednesday night meeting with Tinubu, he could not confirm if they were at the general meeting which was held on Thursday.
The source also confirmed the meeting between the G-7 and members-elect scheduled for Saturday.
The PUNCH had reported on Thursday that the group of aggrieved aspirants might declare its consensus candidate at the meeting, ahead of the inauguration of the 10th Assembly.
A member-elect also confirmed that the President urged the incoming lawmakers across party lines to work with the APC.
The opposition PDP member said, “He (Tinubu) spoke very well, frankly. He stressed on the importance of nation-building and working together. He said politics is over, it is time now to focus on governance, in building confidence and ensuring that we focus on delivering service to the people.’’
When asked if the issue of zoning Tinubu mentioned was in the context of the 10th Assembly leadership, the lawmaker said, “Yes, he enjoined everybody to support the choice they have made and work together.”
The member-elect added, “Before then, the Vice-President (Kashim Shettima) had stressed the need not to push too far the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket by allowing a third person – the Senate President – to also have an Islamic background. You know that Yari is contesting for President of the Senate.”
According to him, the senators-elect will decide Akpabio’s fate.
“Let me tell you: many people don’t understand how the parliament works. There is a role for the party. Immediately a party has won the election and it is the majority in the parliament, the party has a decision to make and who to support. And if they zone their way to the leadership position, that is their prerogative. It is not really about zoning, it is about nomination and a party has the duty to nominate and support someone. And they have done that,’’ the lawmaker declared.
Vice President Kashim Shettima, outgoing Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, were present at the meeting.
Others were former Governor of Akwa Ibom and Senate Presidency aspirant, Godswill Akpabio, former governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi and Edo, Adams Oshiomhole.
Osita Izunaso, Sani Bello, Aliyu Wammako and speakership contender Abbas also attended the parley.
However, former Zamfara State Governor, Abdul’Aziz Yari and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, were not spotted at the meeting.
Speaking with The PUNCH, Kehinde Olaosebikan, the media consultant speaking for the senator-elect representing Imo West, senator Osita Izunaso stated that his principal was not stepping down for anyone.
He noted that the president never told anyone to step down for anyone, rather, he demanded a Christian as the Senate President.
He said, “ The President never told anyone to step down for anyone. He only made a case for a Christian as the Senate President, and this makes my boss more qualified.”
Olaosebikan further noted that the boss would be Senate President.
He said, “ Senator Izunazo would be Senate President by God’s grace and he isn’t stepping down for anyone. “
Similarly, Emeka Nwala, the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate Whip, Orji Kalu, stated that nothing had changed as his boss was still in the race.
He said, “It’s too early to determine a thong. Senator Kalu is still in the race.”
Efforts to get the Director-General of Wase Campaign and DG of Jaji Campaign, Messrs Olufemi Bamisile and Olaide Akinremi, respectively, proved abortive on Thursday.
A text message was sent to them asking them to confirm if their candidates would go ahead to contest against Abbas or if they are under pressure to back out of the race. They had yet to reply to it as of press time on Thursday night.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, said the opposition party had entered into a working agreement with other opposition parties ahead of the inauguration of the parliament.
Although the publicity scribe did not disclose if the PDP would field candidates for both positions, he noted that the situation would be clearer on Tuesday when the 10th Assembly would be inaugurated.
According to him, lawmakers elected on the platform of the PDP are united, stressing that opposition parties are ready to leverage on their numbers to have a say on who becomes the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
At the conclusion of the February 25 parliamentary elections, the APC produced 59 Senators leaving the opposition parties with 50. In the House of Representatives, the ruling party boasts of 177 members while opposition parties have 182.
But Ologunagba said the parliament, being the symbol of democracy, must be protected from anti-democratic forces, adding that the party is working in collaboration with its members-elect in both houses to forge a common front ahead of Tuesday’s inauguration.
“With regard to the current race for the Presiding Officers of the National Assembly, it is instructive to note that the opposition parties put together form a strong majority in the National Assembly and we are very mindful of that. The PDP leadership is working together with our members-elect and opposition parties in the two chambers.
Meanwhile, the Abbas/Kalu Campaign secretariat has said the President is firm on the zoning plan of the APC for the coming 10th National Assembly during his meeting with Senators-elect.
According to the campaign in a statement issued on Thursday, the President did not have plans to dump the candidates adopted by the APC for 10th Assembly leadership.
The statement was titled, ‘10th Assembly: Tinubu remains firm on APC’s endorsed candidates…Appeals to governors, lawmakers-elect to work for party’s candidates…as Wase, Jaji boycott meeting with President.’
However, the Abbas/Kalu campaign claimed that most of the G-7 members stepped down after Tinubu’s intervention in the matter.
The statement read, “Tinubu spoke firmly on the need to work for the victory of the APC’s candidates for the 10th NASS leadership. He begged them to work for Akpabio, Abbas, Barau and Kalu.
“He said the success of his administration largely depends on whether or not he gets it right with the leadership of the National Assembly. He urged them to see reason with him. He said the candidates were chosen for the stability of the nation.”
“Wase had said during the House valedictory session on Wednesday that he would go ahead to contest for the Speaker’s seat because it has been prophesied that he would become Speaker. There is a likelihood that only Wase would go to the floor to contest, while others may step down after the President’s appeal.”
LP unfolds plan
Speaking on the election, a member-elect, Victor Ogene, said the Labour Party lawmakers had yet to decide on the aspirant to support, noting however, that once a decision was made on that, it would be a bloc vote.
“The LP has yet to decide on a particular candidate, but I can assure you that we are going to vote en bloc, the consultation is on. I do not know those we will vote for yet, but I know those we will not vote for. I just want to tell you that we will not be railroad in choosing anybody; it will be a conscious decision,’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday.
The Governor of Abia State, Alex Otti, on Thursday, met members-elect of the coming 10th National Assembly on the platform of the Labour Party over the leadership aspirants to adopt as candidates of the opposition party.
Otti, in his brief comment at the meeting, said he chose to meet with the lawmakers-elect after meeting with President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Ahead of the inauguration, 35 members-elect from the South-East geopolitical zone have endorsed Abbas and Kalu as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the coming 10th House of Representatives, respectively.
After a meeting of the caucus in Abuja on Thursday, 35 of the 43 members-elect from the South-East across party lines, signed for the APC’s consensus candidates.
The outgoing Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Iduma Igariwey, made the announcement during the meeting with Abbas, Kalu and their campaign team, noting that more endorsements were still coming.
Igariwey said other members of the caucus who were not in Abuja would sign when they return.
In a related development, a pro-democracy group under the aegis of The Natives on Thursday pleaded with the former governor of Zamfara State, Yari, to step down for the joint ticket of Akpabio and Barau.
Addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Convener of The Natives, Smart Edward, argued that for the sake of equity and fairness, only a Christian and a unifier like Akpabio should be allowed to lead the 10th Senate.
While noting that Nigeria is a secular state, Edward further urged other lawmakers to respect the choice of President Bola Tinubu and the ruling APC on the need to balance the religious representation in the new government.
He said, “We say ‘No’ to Senator Yari’s ambition and in the name of the country, we appeal to him in the name of our dear country to please shelve this ambition for all and become the hero. What the average Nigerian is looking for now is strong institutions not strong individuals, sustainable development in all facets of our nation, and policies that uplift the poor and promote economic prosperity.
“We cannot toy with the expensive portrayal of acts that can widen the divide of the people post elections, while it is politically permissible, we persuade the 10th Assembly to dissociate themselves from any political, financial and insensitive approach or act that will promote a Muslim for the office of the Senate President for this is a display of national sabotage.
“While the ruling party may have presented these candidates, we appreciate its efforts to assuage other regions and make sacrifices to see a pan-Nigerian, nationalistic, equitable and fair balance of the spirit and letters of our constitution.’’
APC Hails Uzodimma, Ododo On Election Victory, Commends INEC
The All Progressives Congress has congratulated its governorship candidates in Imo and Kogi states, Hope Uzodimma and Usman Ododo, respectively, on their victory at last Saturday’s election.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, revealed this in a statement signed on Monday, November 13.
The statement read, “The All Progressives Congress congratulates His Excellency, Hope Uzodimma, on his re-election as Executive Governor of Imo State, and Usman Ododo on his emergence as Governor of Kogi State.
“The landslide victories of both Governor Uzodinma and Ododo at the just-concluded gubernatorial polls attest to the exceptional performance of the APC-led administrations in both states and resonated loudly with voters.
“We are confident that Governor Uzodimma will consolidate and extend the impressive accomplishments of his first term in Imo State, while Usman Ododo, on his part, will build on the solid record of the outgoing APC-administration in Kogi State.
“We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies for professionally discharging their constitutional duties during the election in both states.
“We salute the Imo and Kogi electorate for their invaluable and massive support of our great party.”
Breaking News! IMO DECIDES: Hope Uzodinma Steps Down For Anyanwu, Looses Presidential Support
Gov. Hope Uzodinma has stepped down for SamDaddy Anyanwu as he could not garner support from Mr. President, Bola President Tinubu.
Ahead of the November 11th governorship election, the All progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gov. Hope Uzodinma, has stepped down for Sen. Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu, also known as SAMDADDY, as he could not garner a nod and/or any iota of support from Mr. President, Bola Tinubu.
recall that during the presidential primary election of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2022, Gov. Hope Uzodinma personally purchased the #100m nomination form for Ahmed Lawan, the former Senate President, who got the support of the National Chairman of All progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Abdullahi Adamu.
Our investigation revealed that the embattled Gov. Hope Uzodinma, for over two months now, has been restless trying ferret and/or fetch the attention of Mr. President to help him clutch at his re-election ambition by directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agents to lend him cooperations to rig off the upcoming governorship election but Mr. President insisted while maintaining that he would not interfere in the said Imo election.
Standing on his firm resolve, Mr. President promised that there would be fair play, free and/or unhindered participations in the said upcoming polls in Imo State to all the parties and their candidates without any interference and/or undue favouritism and/or supportations of any kind of from the security agents: military, police, etc as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In fact, it’s gathered, from inside Aso Rock, that Mr. President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would not want Gov. Hope Uzodinma to be re-elected to quell and/or douse the burning fires of insecurity in the State.
Political analysts as well as some political high-fliers both in Imo State and in Nigeria, including elsewhere, have interpreted Mr. President’s position as a payback in Gov. Hope Uzodinma’s coin for the socio-political betrayal or sabotage from Gov. Hope Uzodinma against Mr. President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, during the days in “wilderness” at All Progressives Congress’ (APC’) primary in 2022.
On Thursday, the 9th day of November, 2023, after all efforts made by Gov. Hope Uzodinma to obtain Mr. President’s support dashed away or proved abortive, unfortunately, the said embattled Imo State governor, Gov. Hope Uzodinma, has informed his loyalists and his few myopic supporters in the State that his guber aspiration and/or project was unsure and visibly in confusing jeopardy as his sordid plans to use the military, police and Ebube Agu security to rig the said election has been shattered as the Presidency has directed the disbandment of Ebube Agu secret militia and redeployment of Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde, whom Gov. Hope Uzodinma had already but heavily sorted with millions of Naira and Dollars.
Inside information indicates that Gov. Hope Uzodinma has been directed by the Presidency to work together with the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Candidate, Sen Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu, (SAMDADDY), to save himself from pepertual socio-political condemnation and/or being disgraced by probe.
In compliance with the above, Gov. Hope Uzodinma has directed his loyalists and/or supporters to mobilize and support the candidature of Sen. Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu (SamDaddy) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and vote for him come Saturday, the 11th November, 2023 governorship election in Imo State.
Afenifere: Fasoranti Differs With Adebanjo On S-Court Verdict
FORMER Leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, yesterday, disagreed with the leader of the group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, over the Supreme Court verdict that affirmed President Bola Tinubu’s victory during the February 25, 2023 general election.
Pa Adebanjo and other Afenifere leaders had met in Isanya Ogbo area of Ijebu in Ogun State, and faulted the Supreme Court verdict, which affirmed the victory of President Tinubu.
They said that the judgement has rendered the billions of naira expended on electoral reform, a waste.
But, in a counter-reaction, Pa Fasoranti, in a statement, disowned Adebanjo’s position on the Supreme Court judgement.
Fasoranti said: “The attention of Chief Reuben Fasoranti and other leaders has been drawn to a communique purportedly released in the name of Afenifere by the General Secretary, Chief Sola Ebiseni, where Afenifere is said to fault the Supreme Court judgement upholding Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s election as the President of Nigeria.
“This is far from the truth about Afenifere’s leadership position on the matter.
“Let it be on record that Chief Fasoranti and other Afenifere leaders are not privy to such ignominious press release, did not authorise it and do not subscribe to the seditious act such may portend.
“It is merely an unfortunate misadventure of some Labour Party elements within the Afenifere fold who would rather drag the body’s reputation in the mud to achieve whatever sinister and seditious end they might have concocted.
“The world will recall that Chief Fasoranti had congratulated the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on his election into office, and also expressed solidarity over his victory at the apex court.
“It is then clearly underhanded and mischievous to have such preposterous attack on the judiciary by intemperate elements within the fold, fanning the embers of national discords with political motives, using the name of Afenifere.
“We are unequivocal in reiterating that Pa Ayo Adebanjo is the Acting Leader, who, in the natural and traditional order of Afenifere, is expected to defer to his leader who appointed him, Chief Fasoranti, without reservations.
“To do otherwise is to tread such ignoble path in national discourse as this unfortunate release reveals.
“The meeting recently held in Ogbo Ijebu, at no point raised or decided on the attack on the judiciary as the statements of the General Secretary seemed to portray.
“The leaders of Afenifere would like to challenge Chief Ebiseni to offer the world, the true record of deliberations at the said meeting to confirm its concurrence with the communique he so released to the world.
“The ethos and structure of Afenifere vest the leadership authority in the Leader as the Olori Ebi; until such time that he joins his forebears, notwithstanding whoever he has chosen to act on his behalf.