Though the race for the senate presidency is between Senators Lawan and Saraki, but there are stronger forces behind the scene. In order to protect his political interest and perhaps investment, Tinubu’s unseen hand is visible everywhere against the emergence of Saraki as senate president for obvious reasons writes AROWONA ABDULAZEEZ
The battle for who leads the 8th National Assembly is getting more interesting. In fact the latest event where one of the frontrunners, George Akume stepped down for another candidate has made it more fascinating. It is now a two horse race; between Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ahmed Lawan.
On the surface though, it may look like that, but deep down, the battle looks more like it is between Saraki and Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
It is evident that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s interest of determining who gets what especially the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives is being thoroughly checkmated and if care is not taken truncated by the ambition of Senator Saraki.
In the just concluded retreat by the APC for its senators-elect, two groups emerged; one for Lawan, another for Saraki. Senator Barnabas Gemade-led ‘Unity Forum’ adopted Senators Lawan /Akume candidacy in response to the body language of the APC national leaders and while Dino Melaye led a group known as ‘the like minds’ to endorse Saraki.
Insiders strongly believe that Saraki’s emergence as speaker would surely affect the interest of Tinubu in who becomes the speaker. With Tinubu’s firm support for Femi Gbajabiamila to emerge the speaker, any factor that would knock out Senator Saraki would be highly welcomed. So the calculation is if Tinubu backs Lawan, the president-elect would be under obligation to get his people mainly from North East and North West to back Hon Femi Gbajabiamila for the speaker’s position.
Those in the know believe that it would be the mother of all fights between the PDP elements who are allegedly backing Saraki and those in Tinubu’s camp who are backing Lawan. Curiously, it is not only PDP senators who are sympathetic to the ambition of Saraki, the APC bloc known as the new PDP in APC principally made up of the five defected governors are said to be fully backing Saraki.
While Tinubu and Saraki have both drawn battle lines, the president-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) kept his distance pretending as if he has no interest in who becomes the number three citizen in his government to the extent of coming publicly to declare his readiness to work with whosoever emerge but never forgot his anti-corruption campaign.
However, a former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji AbdulKadir Balarabe Musa, warned the president-elect elect to make his interest reflect in the selection of the leadership of the NASS. When asked whether the president-elect should interfere in the selection of the leadership of the NASS.
According to him, “I think it is wrong to say the president should not have an input in who becomes the president of the senate. He should not impose it but his influence and input is very important because the president of the senate and the president in terms of the supreme interest of the country should work together. I don’t think it is good for the nation for the president and the senate president to be antagonistic or unable to work together.
”I think they should harmonize their position. But I think Buhari is just been modest to have said he doesn’t have any candidate for the position of the senate president. And I support that position. But he knows that he cannot succeed with wrong person as the senate president.”
As the duo of Saraki and Lawan continue to get support even from outside their colleagues, the New Nigerian Initiative Vanguard NNIV, has drummed support for the candidature of Senator Ahmed Lawan (North-East) in the race for the senate president.
The group in a statement issued and signed by its National Co-ordinator, Prince Taiwo Alebiosu, described Senator Lawan as a detribalised Nigerian whose priority has always been the unity and progress of Nigeria over the years.
According to him, “if elected as the Senate President, Senator Lawan would be a rallying point for the third arm government in the country which would further assist in deepening the nation’s growing democracy.”
While appealing to ranking senators and the incoming ones irrespective of their political affiliation to look critically and vote for Senator Lawan as the president of the 8th National Assembly in the overall interest of the nation, the group said its members would soon embark on sensitization and massive campaign for the candidature of Senator Lawan from across the six geopolitical zone of the country.
Meanwhile, the Ilorin Emirate Youth Development Association has appealed to the senators elect at the National Assembly to support and elect Senator Saraki as the next Senate President.
According to the group, the appeal is based on the quality and credibility found in former governor of Kwara State to lead the 8th National Assembly.
In a statement jointly signed by the national president, Alhaji Abdullahi Babatunde Salau and Public Relations Officer, Mallam Muhammed Jagunmo, it was said that, “as a former governor of Kwara state, who doubled as the chairman Nigeria Governors Forum, Senator Bukola Saraki performed excellently and diligently well in leading the state to a greater height and as the former chairman Nigeria Governors Forum coupled with his experience at the Senate so far, he has displayed high level of performance of good governance.
“The entire youth of Kwara state and Ilorin Emirate in particular hereby assure the senators-elect and the good people of Nigeria that Senator Bukola Saraki shall not disappoint or betray the trust of the people in him if chosen as the next president of the Senate.”
Considering Bukola Saraki’s political pedigree, experience and performance as governor and senator, “we thereby present him as the best candidate for the position of the Senate president.”
By the time this battle is over, it may have left a lot of victims many of them unintended.