Ahead of a one-day retreat organized by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for its senators-elect in Abuja tomorrow, checks indicate that the party is going ahead with an open primary to select a sole candidate to succeed David Mark as Senate President next month.
A ranking senator from the South west told Daily Sun yesterday that the APC is set to organise primary election for all contenders for the Senate Presidency, “much in line with how the primary was conducted to select our presidential candidate in 2014.”
All 59 senators and senators-elect of the party would be delegates at the primary. The ranks of the APC senators depleted by one with the death, on Saturday, May 16, of Borno senator, Ahmed Khlaifa Zannah.
It is yet unclear whether the primary would hold in Abuja or Lagos but it was further gathered that, all the 59 senators and senators-elect are “expected to sign an undertaking to abide by the party position on whoever emerges as the party’s candidate after the primary.
“Thereafter, the runner-up is expected to emerge as the deputy Senate President. In the event where the runner-up is from the same zone as the winner of the primary, another primary election would be conducted and whoever emerges would be the deputy.”
Some senators are reportedly not happy with the arrangement. They would rather senators are allowed to “choose our leader in the chamber,” said a senator from the North west but who declined to be named.
Presently, major contenders are: Senators Ahmad Lawan (Yobe, North east), Bukola Saraki (Kwara, North central), George Akume (Benue, North central) and Ali Mohammed Ndume (Borno, North east).
Daily Sun checks reveal that the major contenders have since sited their campaign headquarters at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja and spending heavily with block bookings for presidential suites every week.
The presidential suites are now venues where the aspirants hold court, and also, hold regular consultations and schedule meetings with their returning colleagues as well as senators – elect across the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Another ranking senator privy to the arrangement claimed that “aspirants have been picking hotel bills of members of the incoming Eighth Senate, almost immediately after the one-week induction programme organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).
Meanwhile, about 65 senators, gathered under the aegis of The Like Minds have vowed never to allow imposition of a new Senate “by some highly influential members of the APC.”
They argued that the initial decision to zone the position of presiding officers of both chambers and the endorsement of certain aspirants by some caucuses, was to ensure the emergence of anointed aspirant that would be imposed on the lawmakers.
Some legislators believed that the current arrangement by the party to conduct a primary election would not only guarantee legislative independence but also produce presiding officers who would not take orders from any individual within the party.
“Instead of having a Senate President that would take directives from a particular individual within the party, we would prefer someone who is independent-minded…,”he said.
(Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, THE SUN)