10th NASS: Orji Kalu, Akpabio, Yari To Be Nominated For Contest At Inauguration

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As the jostle for 10th National Assembly Senate Presidency intensifies, strong indications have emerged that three nominations for the race to the office of the President of the Senate will be made during the Chamber’s inauguration in June. Saturday Telegraph learnt that the three aspirants who are likely to be nominated to stand for the election to the office of the President of the Senate on June 13, are the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari.

An insider in the ongoing horse trading for the 10th Senate leadership, told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity that, notwithstanding the zoning arrangement by the All Progressives Congress (APC) two weeks ago, Senator Orji Kalu has resolved not to back out from the race. The source hinted that the former Abia State Governor has strong support- ers, who are willing and ready to queue behind him in his determination to emerge as the next President of the Senate, stressing that the contest was going to be tough.

The source also revealed that Senators-elect on the platform of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and other minority parties in the Senate, were working towards giving Kalu block votes, to give him victory to the number three highest political office in the country. Saturday Telegraph checks revealed further, that Yari might collapse his structure to form an alliance with Kalu, explaining that, the aim would be for Kalu to emerge as the President of the Senate while Yari would emerge as the Deputy President of the Senate.

The source hinted that, as at Friday, about 44 Senators-elect were alleged to be supporting Akpabio, saying that when and if Yari joined forces with Kalu, it would be easy for them to have their ambitions actual- ised as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate. According to the insider, the endorsement of Akpabio by the leadership of the APC and the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has attracted the sympathy of some Senators from across the different geo-political zones to Kalu, saying that the outcome of the poll might favour the Senate Chief Whip because the lawmakers would not want a stooge of the Party or the President to be their leader.

The source expressed concerns that Nigerian leaders would not learn from mistakes of their predecessors, warning that imposition of leadership on the National Assembly would end up in crisis that might hamper governance in the coming dispensation. “I am seriously concerned that Nigerians don’t learn from the past. This issue of the party or President-elect choosing who should lead the Parliament is totally wrong. It is an encroachment on the constitutional powers, rights and liberties of the Parliamentarians.

“The choice of Akpabio by the leadership of the APC and Tinubu is totally wrong because it shows that the Executive wants to control the National Assembly. In a Presidential democracy which we practice, it should not be so, otherwise, the legislators will be indirectly controlled by the Executive, and they won’t be able to do the wishes of the people who elected them to represent their interests “It would have been better, if they had zoned it to the South and allow the lawmakers to make their choice from the qualified aspirants, instead of telling them who to choose to lead them.

I see this as abuse of democratic process. And this is what usually causes acrimony among the lawmakers. If the lawmakers are allowed to make their choice, they are likely to cooperate with the leadership and give their best to the electorate,” the source said. On the chances of Akpabio, another source in the Senate, told our Correspondent that, although he enjoys the support of the party and the President-elect, he still has a long way to go in convincing a large number of the Senators-elect to support him following their belief that the Senators should choose their leaders by themselves.

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