NASS Leadership: Lawan, others free to consult with PDP

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has thrown its weight behind its members seeking the support of opposition politicians for the upcoming National Assembly leadership election.

The APC in a statement on Sunday said the move is ‘normal’ and does not contradict the party’s position.

“We are inundated with reports of our members in the National Assembly holding consultations with members of the opposition over the election of leaders into the 9th National Assembly. Let me state that our party has no objection to such consultations. It is a normal democratic practice world over to stretch hands across the divides. And contrary to some media reports, the actions of our members do not contradict the party’s position. APC has a comfortable majority in both chambers, therefore; we have the number to produce the leadership,” the statement signed by Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC Publicity Secretary stated.

The statement came as a reaction to consultations by Ahmed Lawan, the candidate favoured by the party for Senate presidency. The National Assembly leadership election will hold in June.

Mr Lawan’s main challengers, so far, have been other APC senators-elec including Borno senator, Ali Ndume.

According to a report by Punch, Mr Lawan met with three governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a bid to brighten his chances of clinching the coveted position.

Femi Gbajabiamila, the Lagos lawmaker favoured by the APC to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, has also been meeting with PDP lawmakers to seek their support.

The moves have generated controversies as it is perceived as a direct contradiction of the position of the party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

Mr Oshiomhole while meeting with new Rep members-elect in March boasted that the party had enough numbers and would not share leadership positions with the PDP.

He warned against alliances with the opposition following the party’s 2015 experience.

In 2015, the APC endorsed Mr Lawan for the position of Senate President.

However, he lost to the incumbent, Bukola Saraki, who emerged president of the Senate against his party’s wish.

Mr Saraki was able to secure the loyalty of PDP senators and paid back by ensuring an opposition member becomes his deputy. He later dumped the APC in 2018.
In what looked like a contradiction to Mr Oshiomhole’s position, the party in the Sunday statement said such consultation is important as the party does not have a two-thirds majority.

“But democracy recognises the importance of the opposition. Especially when you do not have two-third which would be required at some very critical situations. For us as a ruling party, we understand that a stable and peaceful National Assembly would enhance our capacity to deliver more for the people of Nigeria.

“So the party is not averse to negotiation by Senator Ahmed Lawan and our other senators-elect working to fulfil the position taken by our party.

“It is important to note that one of the key considerations for adopting him as the party’s candidate for the Senate Presidency is his ability to carry everyone along. On top of that, the party has confidence in him not to compromise the progressive ideology of APC. So clearly, Senator Ahmed Lawan is capable of conducting his negotiations within the prism of APC’s objectives.”

The party said it would soon release its zoning arrangements for the principal positions of the incoming 9th National Assembly in both chambers.

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