A sharp crack has been created in the Senate caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the quest to endorse the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan as the consensus presidential candidate of the parliament.
Lawan, who has been at the National Assembly since 1999, is set to formally declare for the presidency this week, multiple sources around him confirmed.
But the Senate president told journalists that only God will determine his next step when asked about plans by some powerful forces in the North to support him for the presidency.
First elected into the House of Representatives in 1999, Lawan crossed over to the Senate in 2007 and since then he has remained in the Red Chamber.
Daily Trust gathered that ahead of the Yobe-born-lawmaker’s declaration, there were plans to declare him as the consensus candidate of the Senate.
It was gathered that the endorsement was being promoted by some of his allies in the parliament including Senator Yusuf Yusuf (APC, Taraba), Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) and a former lawmaker, Senator Abdullahi Gumel.
The push for the endorsement, which started before the Senators’ Sallah recess has polarised the parliament, which is made of 71 APC, 37 PDP and one YPP member.
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The Senators had last week embarked on a recess to enable them to celebrate this Eid-el-Fitr. They are to resume on Tuesday, May 10.
If he declares, Lawan will join the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole (Ogun), Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (Lagos) and the chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) to slug it out for the APC presidential primaries.
The ruling party had fixed its primaries for May 30 and June 1, where its flag bearer for the presidency would be elected.
Crack in APC caucus
It was gathered that moves to endorse Lawan have created a crack in the APC caucus in the Upper Chamber.
Daily Trust reports that many lawmakers have since pitched tents with other aspirants. For instance, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno), is leading the campaign for Amaechi, Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno) is playing a leading role in Tinubu’s campaign, while Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano) is in charge of the campaigns of the vice president.
Aside from these three, there are other lawmakers who are involved in the campaigns of other aspirants, thus the moves to present Lawan as the consensus candidate has been hanging in the balance.
In a phone interview, Senator Ali Ndume said he has not been contacted by those promoting Lawan’s candidature, saying “They have not come because they know my position.
“I have nothing against Ahmad Lawan; he is my colleague but I have everything against injustice. I won’t support even my biological brother. Fielding a northerner is tantamount to injustice and tantamount to a third term. The so-called northern elders that are pushing it are doing so to perpetuate injustice.
“It’s the turn of the South and we have to support them to actualise this. I’m disappointed with those that are pushing this. I had since taken position even before my alignment with Amaechi,” he said.
Another lawmaker, while puncturing the claims that Lawan is under intense pressure to join the race for the presidency, said the project was “The brainchild of Lawan and his few allies.
“It is untrue that he is being pushed by northern elders. He is pushing himself; otherwise, tell them to mention the northern elders. Who are they?
“It is purely his aspiration and nobody is pushing him, rather he is pushing people to key into the project. They are planning to present him as the Senate consensus candidate and we are going to outrightly and publicly resist being railroaded into this failed project,” the lawmaker said.
But a lawmaker in Lawan’s camp insisted that the Senate president was being pressured to join the race by northern elders.
Asked to mention some of the northern elders pushing the Senate President, he said, “It is not for public consumption. I’m one of them. Am I not an elder at over 70 and I have been in politics for over four decades?”
Another lawmaker in the Senate president’s camp said “Lawan is one of us and we will do all possible within our reach to support him. He is one of us.”
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Lawan to pick forms tomorrow – Aide
Contacted, one of the aides of the Senate president told our correspondent that arrangements have been concluded for the declaration of his boss.
“All things being equal, he would pick the expression of interest and nomination forms tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with a northerner to be aspiring to succeed President Buhari. The president would be happy to have a head of one of the arms of government succeed him.
“Let all the aspirants come out to test their popularity. What we all know is that Lawan is capable, experienced and can turn around the fortunes of the country positively. He is the candidate to beat,” he said.
God will determine my next step, says Lawan
While responding to his reported entry into the presidential race, Senator Lawan told State House reporters after joining other residents of the FCT on Sallah homage to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that God will determine his next step.
Asked to speak on the plans, he said: “I thought you were going to ask me about what we want to do in 2022. We passed the budget for 2022, a budget for consolidation of what we have been able to achieve in 2020, when we had an implementation of 100%.
“2022 has just finished, another 100% implementation of budget and we’re looking forward to ensure that the 2022 budget is also implemented by 100%.
“If we stabilize our economy, we stabilize our country, then people can contest, but for now everything is speculative and I believe that God, in His infinite mercy, will show us the way.”
But some political pundits said as a politician, Lawan simply dribbled his way and dodged the question which did not meant that he was not interested.
The Yobe born politician, who said people would have a place to contest elections when the economy and country were stabilised, called on citizens to shun partisanship and work towards making the country better organised.
Lawan, who said the country would have been in a better condition by now but for two recessions and the Covid-19 pandemic, stated that: “Today, we are happy to say that we’re still making progress, but would have done far better if we hadn’t had the COVID interruption.
“So, I believe that as a nation, we are moving in the right direction and President Muhammadu Buhari is giving us the leadership that we need and all that we need to do is to continue to support our leaders, continue to support our government and it’s in the best interest of everyone.
“Let no politics, let no partisanship, let no sentiments derail any of our programmes and projects because you need to have a Nigeria first if you are running to take over government at whatever level. You need to have a country, you need to have a stable country, you need to have a peaceful country in first place and if you do that, you can contest, for example. But as individuals, we have a date with a history.
“How much do we give to our nation? How much do we sacrifice for the sake of others in our communities and in our country? That determines a lot how far we can go because if we decide to be selfish, then I’m sorry, we may not make that kind of progress that we believe can take us to the Eldorado,” he said.
Adeleke freezes government accounts, reverses state name
The newly inaugurated Governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, has frozen all government accounts in the state.
Adeleke directed this in his first executive order upon inauguration on Sunday.
Adeleke, in his speech delivered at the inauguration, alleged that the erstwhile governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola, carried out some actions “maliciously” after he (Adeleke) won the July 16 governorship election, including “hurried” employments without provisions to sustain them.
He claimed these actions were roadblocks channeled at making things difficult in his administration.
Adeleke also reversed the state name from ‘State of Osun’ to ‘Osun State’, saying the former was alien to the constitution.
“My good people of Osun, since you elected me as your governor on the July 16, 2022, which the Independent National Electoral Commission announced on July 17, 2022, the former Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, maliciously started putting road blocks to make things difficult and almost impossible for the new administration to serve you.
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“Mass employments were carried out without budgetary provisions for salary payments for the new employees; even when the state was struggling to pay salaries and deliver other services. Various hurried and criminally backdated contracts were awarded and again without budgetary provisions.
“Appointments of several Obas were hurriedly done without following due process, just to mention a few.
“All efforts to get the governor set up a Transition Committee and submit hand-over notes in line with best practices proved abortive.
“It is therefore my desire to ask for your patience and understanding to give my administration a few weeks to review and sort out all the actions and malicious confusions which the immediate past administration has created since July 17, 2022. Those actions were indeed vindictive measures against the people of Osun State for voting them out of office,” Adeleke said.
Giving new orders, he said, “Consequently, I hereby issue the following directives which will be backed up with appropriate Executive orders:
“Immediate freezing of all government accounts in banks and other financial institutions;
“Immediate establishment of a panel to carry out an inventory and recover all government assets.
“An immediate establishment of a panel to review all appointments and major decisions of the immediate past administration taken after July 17, 2022.
“An immediate reversal to the constitutionally recognised name of our state, ‘Osun State’. All government insignia, correspondences and signages should henceforth reflect Osun State rather than State of Osun which is unknown to the Nigerian constitution.”
Ebonyi INEC office set on fire, PVCs, ballot boxes burnt
Hoodlums on Sunday set ablaze the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office at Iboko in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
This was disclosed by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement.
He said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Pauline Ugochi, reported that that the incident occurred around 10am.
Although he said no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed.
“These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs),” Okoye said.
According to him, this is the third attack on INEC local government office in less than three weeks having earlier recorded similar attacks on the commission’s offices in Ogun and Osun states.
He said that the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies had commenced a full investigation into the incident.
The statement read, “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Ugochi, reported that our Izzi Local Government Area office located in Iboko, was set ablaze this morning.
“The incident occurred around 10.00am when some unidentified persons set the entire building ablaze.
“Although no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed. These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards.
“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies has been drawn to the incident and have commenced investigation.
“Sadly, this is the third attack on our Local Government office in less than three weeks following similar attacks on our offices in Ogun and Osun States on 10th November 2022.”
We haven’t endorsed Peter Obi, Dogara, aggrieved Northern APC
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other members of the aggrieved Northern All Progressives Congress, APC camp have dismissed speculations that the group has endorsed the Obi-Datti presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The group made the dismissal in a statement jointly-signed by Simon Achuba, Hon Albert Atiwurcha, Prof Doknan Sheni, Mela A. Nunge, SAN, Gen Ishaya Bauka Rtd, Prof Ibrahim Haruna and Mrs Leah Olusiyi.
Recall that the Chairman of the group and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, had said the group has endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.
According to him, Obi was endorsed, after painstakingly reviewing and analysing the alternative candidates.
But, Dogara and other members of the group have distanced themselves from the endorsement, saying they are yet to conclude consultations and that their position will be made public.
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He said, “We want to draw the attention of the general public to the recent position canvassed by our Chairman, Engr B D Lawal as the position of our Group. We wish to state that necessary consultations have been concluded, and based on manifestly unassailable empirical data, the group is poised to adopt a position that will be made known to the public at an interfaith event to be held very soon.
“Suffices to say that no one in the group including the Chairman has been mandated to speak to the public about our position at this material time. Based on our modus Operandi, our position was meant to be presented to the general public at the event above referred to. That has not changed.
“Consequently, the decision to endorse a particular candidate and the statement credited to the chairman are solely the decision and views of the Chairman which he is absolutely entitled to but not that of the group. We hope this statement clears all the queries most of us have been inundated with on this all-important subject matter,” he added.
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