National Assembly Leadership: South East looses Out As Buhari Woo Lawmakers

By Nwangwu Uba

The All Progressive Congress, APC, National Working Committee, NWC, at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari,  appears to have finally   adopted  the Principal officers of the Senate and  the House of Representatives without any position being allocated  for the south east  geo-political region,  comprising of Abia, Anambra, Eboyi, Enugu and Imo states.

Orji Uzor Kalu, a  former governor of Abia state  who had championed President Muhammadu  Buhari re-election bid  by moving from state to state  and reaching  out to prominent Nigerians including Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida,  a retired Army General and former Head of State at his Hill top mansion, Minna, Niger state , to drum their support for  him, had expected  that  the Katsina state born Nigerian President will support him  to contest for the Deputy Senate President to represent the interest of the  south east. He got it wrong.

Unknown to him the party NWC and the Presidency, have  shared the principal offices of the National Assembly  without  any position being  reserved  for the south east.  The position of the  Senate President was allocated to the north  east  and Ahmad Lawan, a ranking Senator from Borno state was adopted by the Committee at in the instance of the President  to be the party Candidate  to contest for the position on the floor of the Senate.

Ahmad Lawan: Buhari Anointed Candidate For Senate President

The Committee  was said to have also  adopted  ,Omo-Agege, another ranking Senator, from Delta state , south-south geo-political region as the Candidate for the Deputy Senate President. The decision to adopt  the Delta state born politician, was said to have been  reached  by the Committee   after  its emergency  meetings held on Saturday and Sunday  , June 8 and 9, 2019, respectively, at the party National Secretariat in Abuja.

Note that Omo-Agege was the only elected Senator  from the Delta on the platform of the APC, in the February 23, 2019, National Assembly  election. He has been  a strong  loyalist of Buhari in the Senate that he was always running into trouble  with the Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state, led Senate.

Indeed, he  never hid his opposition to  Saraki, as he did everything within his powers to pull  him down because of his alleged Presidential backing. His Colleagues who were getting worried about his pro-Buhari  stance  in the Senate had suspended him. The suspension, according to sources may have given him the opportunity to plot his next line of action in the Senate which was allegedly traced to him. He was said to have been cited  at the entrance  to the hallowed Chamber on the day of the incident.

 The Senators  had expected Ibrahim Idris, then Inspector General of Police, IGP, deploy  policemen  to arrest him but  he was rather  escorted out of the National Assembly, NASS,  Complex and quickly  put inside  a black Toyota Hilux pick up van, thus fueling speculations that it was a well organised plot by the government  to  cause confusion in the Senate and  facilitate the removal of Saraki as Senate President.

The Mace was said to have been found where  it was hidden and the Senators conveyed for their plennary session. The  return of Senator  Omo-Agege    to attend the plenary , few minutes he was escorted  out of the  NASS premises  speaks volume.

 Security sources confirmed that he was not arrested or detained  as being speculated in certain quarters  but  simply taken away for security reasons. The Senate had asked  Idris, the  IGP, to investigate  the Senator   who was alleged to have led  thugs  to forcefully  take away the Mace, which was a symbol of Authority, but it was not done.

Political Observers believe that Buhari  may have  thrown, the Delta state born politician  for the position of Deputy Senate President to Compensate for his loyalty in the  eighth Senate.  It was not surprising  why he turned his back on Kalu, his old political ally, from the south east, who was also interested  in contesting for the position on the floor of the Senate.

The Candidates    adopted by the Committee  to contest for the leadership of the House  was not different from that of the Senate, dominated by the Candidates from the north  and south west.  The Committee has adopted Femi Gbajabiamila, a ranking House member,  from Lagos state, south west geo-political region as  the party Candidate  for the Speaker of the House   while Muhammed Idris Wase would contest as the Deputy Speaker .

Lanre Issa- Onilu, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said the  Candidates  who were adopted by the party NWC, would contest for the various  elective  offices  of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Isa-Onilu , disclosed  that the Committee had  arrived at the decision  following wide  consultations with prominent  party leaders including the President and   Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the party National  leader .

 The President  may have allowed Tinubu, the former Lagos state governor  to nominate the Speaker of the Hose to avoid being accused of taking over the whole positions of the NASS, which people may see as an extension of the Presidency. Moreso, he did not want to lose the loyalty of the south politicians godfather. and  give  the opposition People’s Democratic, PDP, room m to spring a surprises in the NASS leadership  election.

Perhaps to ensure that the PDP , will not get any position in the leadership of the Senate or the House,  the President was said to have urged aggrieve  party members who had earlier signified their  interests in these Principal offices of the National Assembly  to support the party adopted Candidates  as” loyal and committed  party members”.

Recall,  that Muhammed Ali Ndume, a ranking Senator, from Borno state, and a  one- time majority leader, in the Senate and Kalu,  have  vowed to go against the party decisions by contesting for the positions of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President on the floor of the Senate respectively.

 Ndume believes that he is much better that Lawan, Buhari’s Candidate for the position of  the Senate President because he could not be easily manipulated  by any person. In the House, Umaru Bago, who has refused to step down to contest for the House Speaker is believed  to have   been mobilising and reaching out to the opposition PDP and other elected  members to support his Candidacy  today,  Tuesday, June 11, 2019,  inauguration of the National Assembly by the President.

The President may have known that without reaching out to the APC national Assembly lawmakers ahead of the inauguration, the PDP may play the spoiler’s role and the next four years will be a  tug of war for him. Going the Saraki way, he was said to have met  the Lawmakers   with Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President,  Adams Oshiomhole, the party National Chairman and  the  NWC,  members at Sheraton Hotel and Towers , Abuja. The governors , elected on the platform were also said to have been  invited for the closed door meeting  to drum their support for the party adopted Candidates for the leadership of the ninth NASS.  The meeting which was held behind closed doors, according to party sources  was aimed at putting finishing touches to the party’s plans to ensure that its adopted Candidates win all the various positions of the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives during the election today.

As a prelude to ensuring that mistakes of 2015, did not repeat itself,  the APC, NWC,  was said to have earlier  met with the governors pleading with them to endorse  Lawan and Gbajabiamila as its choice  for the positions of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House respectively. The President who appeared worried wants   all his Candidates to win the leadership of the Senate and the House to have a smooth second term in office.

Many believe that the decision by the party NWC to scheme out the south east  from the Principal position in the National Assembly ,may not be  unconnected to the massive support given to Atiku Abubakar, the PDP, Presidential Candidate , in the February 23, 2019, Presidential election. The President and the party NWC,may have sent a signal to the  people of the south east that they would not expect much in the present APC  government  in terms of appointments.

Analysts believe that both not for the Constitutional provision which allows for a minister to be appointed  from each state of the Federation, the President would not have considered it necessary to appoint  any Candidate  for ministerial position from the region.

  He would have preferred to make all his  ministerial appointments from the  north, south west and south-south  geo-political regions .  There is no gain  saying the fact that the present APC  Administration are controlled by the north and south-west political gladiators.Buhari, the President is from the north west,    Osinbajo, the Vice President, is from  the  southwest geo-political region and now the Speaker of the House has been allocated to the region by the party NWC, also to satisfy the interest of the kingmakers .

  Insiders believe that  the APC king makers  would have actualised he game plan of tactically scheming out the  from the running of the government by ensuring that the four key positions of the Administration are occupied by  two tribes, leaving out others, particular the ssouth east. Note that they may not have carried  the  south-south along to compensate region for the oil extracted from area  which is the main stay of the economy.  

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