Security beefed up ahead NASS inauguration: Ndume, Gaya, Kalu on their own – APC, govs

Ahead of tuesday’s inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, every structure in the complex located within the Three Arms Zone in Abuja is wearing a new look with renovations, paintings and series of decorations.

This is even as security has been beefed up at the federal legislature to ensure protection of lives and property as well as orderliness throughout the programme.
Blueprint observes that many parts of the complex that needed rehabilitation and painting have been touched while both external and internal parts of the edifice have been decorated.
Besides, security operatives have swung into action by carrying out proper checks on every staff member and visitors at strategic locations, as they either allowed them access into the complex or turn them back for improper identification.
Specifically, security operatives at strategic locations restricted movement around designated areas, especially the accreditation centres of Hearing Rooms 1 and 2 being used for the accreditation and documentation exercise.
Speaking to newsmen after his accreditation, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, PDP-Taraba South said the process was going on smoothly.

On why PDP is keeping quiet on who to endorse for Senate presidency, he said, “There is dignity in silence and mischief in noise making”.
Also, Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC-Kano South also said the accreditation process was going on without hindrance.
Gaya, who is in the race for the position of deputy president of the Senate, however, denied stepping down as insinuated in some quarters.
Also, Senator-elect Ibrahim Gobir (APC-Sokoto East), said: “What is right is that the person we are going to choose, we will choose him tomorrow (today). When we get to the bridge, we will cross it. Certainly, what the president wants is Lawan, and I am going for Lawan.”
He said the 2015 Standing Rules would be used during today’s election of principal officers, saying however that “senators can always adjust their procedures.”

On the position of opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), he said: “The silence from the PDP senators-elect means acceptance.”

He said the opposition would support Ahmad, the APC anointed candidate.

APC, govs restate stand on Lawan

Meanwhile, former Senate Leader and senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, Senator Kabiru Gaya and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu were conspicuously missing Monday at a high-level meeting by the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors and the National Working Committee (NWC) members with the elected lawmakers on the party’s platform.

The meeting was to conclude plans ahead of Tuesday’s National Assembly’s election and to formally ask all senators and House of Representatives members aspiring for principal positions in the 9th Assembly to support the party’s candidates. 

The APC leadership had endorsed Lawan as Senate president and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as his deputy.

 Also, former House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila was endorsed as Speaker, House of Representatives and Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase as his deputy. 

However, those contesting without party’s support were absent at the meeting.

Among them were Senator Ndume, former governor of Abia state and Senator-elect, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and Senator Gaya, both of whom are contesting for  the deputy Senate president, and Hon. Umar Bago, who is contesting for speaker of the House.

Others who had indicated interest to contest one position or the other at the meeting stepped down for the party’s preferred candidates.

They include Senator Ajayi Boroffice, who had indicated interest to contest the deputy Senate president and Hon. Nkiruka Onyejiocha, who sought to be the speaker.

At the meeting, the party reiterated its decision to endorse Omo -Agege and Wase for the deputy Senate president and deputy speaker of the House respectively.

Though they kept details of the parley to their chest, it was gathered that they deliberated on how to avert a repeat of the 2015 scenario where former Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara respectively, pulled the rug off the party’s feet by clinching the seats ahead of Lawan and Gbajabiamila.

Addressing newsmen after the closed-door meeting, National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole confirmed that it was aimed at drumming support for the party’s choices for the various offices.  

Oshiomhole called on Senator Ndume to take a cue from Senator Danjuma Goje by stepping down for Lawan in the interest of the party.

 “Well, for now we are still trying to talk to Ali Ndume. I believe that he is a democrat. He understands that in a democracy, it is important t that he listens to the voice of the majority and accept the decisions of the majority. I mean it is all about sacrifice. 

“Like I said, I do not know of anybody who has been elected who is not qualified to become the Senate president, and senators are equal. For those who have stepped down, they have done that in recognition of the fact that at a particular point in time, only one person will emerge and I believe that my dear friend, Senator Ali Ndume will not be a lone ranger. 

“He will abide by the spirit of the party and he will respect our overall leader who is the president of our country, who is also the leader of our party. I do not have any fear; I believe Ndume will accept the will of the majority.

“All those that have stepped down as a mark of respect for the party leadership are all qualified and they are all unanimous to back the candidates of the party. It (meeting) is basically to firm up all the conversations and lobbying that have gone on and we have already had a meeting with specific conclusions.

“We have all agreed as a caucus to endorse distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan as APC candidate for the presidency of the Senate and distinguished Senator Omo-Agege for the deputy presidency of the Senate.”

‘Lawan set to step in’

Meanwhile, the Lawan campaign group has said its candidate would emerge today as Senate president. Chairman of the group, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi said this Monday in Abuja.

He said:  “We are quite certain that we will succeed by the grace of God. We have worked hard; we started immediately after the election to campaign for Senator Ahmad Lawan.

“We started before we knew we were going to get the blessing of the party and President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Despite the endorsement, we felt it was necessary to reach out to our colleagues in the APC and the opposition parties because the major opposition, PDP has 44 senators-elect which is not a small number out of 109 members expected to make the 9th assembly.

“We also met with them on one- on- one basis. We met with them as a caucus in Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s house and we were well received.

“In fact, Ekweremadu said it was the first meeting of the Senate because everybody was there exchanging banters,” he said.

Abdullahi said the PDP was aware of Lawan’s capacity to deliver on the job and to do justice to all and that its members would vote for him.

On Senator Ndume, who is the only other contestant for the Senate presidency, Abdullahi said he wished him well.

 He said: “In fact I was exchanging banters with him when I went for accreditation this morning.

“We have been friends in spite of our political struggles and positions in the Senate.

“We have cooperated on many other platforms. Besides, Ndume has the right to contest and he is exercising his inalienable right.” (NAN)

Senator-elect Oriolowo

Also, a senator-elect from Osun state, Adelere Oriolowo, has said the resolve of the APC governors and the party to endorse candidates for respective leadership positions in the 9th National Assembly is to forestall conflicts between the legislature and the executive arm of government.

He said rather than being an imposition as argued by some aspirants, the endorsements and reaffirmation of certain candidates by governors of the ruling party was essentially to give direction to the lawmakers on the quality of NASS leadership that would work for the good of the people. 

The lawmaker-elect from Osun West senatorial district said the party’s decision as well as that of its governors to insist on the choices must be respected by all lawmakers elected on the platform of the party.

“No, the insistence of the party that certain candidates be elected as leaders of the 9th National Assembly should be seen as a guide to APC lawmakers to forestall the kind of conflict that occurred following the 2015 exercise when some selfish elements opted to go against the policy of the party.

“In democracy, a party must give direction, guides and ensures that lawmakers elected on its platform facilitate the implementation of its policies and programmes.

“The APC lawmakers complying by the decision and direction given by the party will produce a very good and pleasant assembly that will work harmoniously with the executive to move the country forward.

“The trust is not about legislature, executive fighting each other; it does not translate to check and balances. In fact, the check and balances is to mutually look at what each arm from the perspective of its respective functions and where it becomes necessary for them to sit down and discuss to do so amicably”, he said.

Oriolowo said the frosty relationship that existed between the leadership of the 8th assembly and the executive as a direct consequence of some person’s deliberate refusal to abide by party directive regarding the emergence of its leadership.

He said the current leadership of the party, in conjunction with the governors have brought everyone together and encouraged wider consultations and negotiations among the lawmakers.

He assured that elections into leadership positions today would be characterised by openness and done in conformity with democratic principles unlike the 2015 version where some senators were ‘cornered’ while the leadership from that warped exercise became unduly confrontational to the detriment of the Nigerian people.

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