Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress has said there is no going back on the endorsement of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as the next President of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
Despite the ruling party’s support for Lawan, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno) and Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe) are said to be interested in contesting against him.
Some lawmakers, including from the South-West legislators, have also declared interest in contesting against Gbajabiamila.
But the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, in an interview with our correspondent, said the party was already looking beyond zoning and endorsement.
“We have moved beyond that (zoning and endorsement). The stage we are now is to ensure a smooth election on that day,” he said.
The party’s spokesman expressed the confidence that despite being in talks with members of the Peoples Democratic Party in the National Assembly, lawmakers elected on the platform of the APC would not allow a repeat of what happened in 2015 when opposition party produced the Deputy President of the Senate.
He said, “Our members have been given the free hand to discuss with everybody towards ensuring that the right thing is done.
“That is consultation. It is not the same thing as working with the other party. It is just a way of carrying other people along that what we want is what is obtainable in the best of democracy in the world.
“The commitment is in the fulfillment of the manifesto upon which we received the majority votes. We are all stakeholders in the project.”
When contacted for his comment, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party would not reckon with any agreement reached at meetings with its elected representatives.
“We have not taken any decision yet on zoning or endorsement for principal officers. When it is time, we will tell our members the direction to take.
“Those meeting them or calling them for meetings can continue to entertain themselves,” he said.
Ologbondiyan said a meeting with members would be convened at the appropriate time and the National Executive Council would be required to chart a course.
However, a member of the APC National Working Committee told our correspondent in Abuja that it was already a “sealed deal” for Lawan and Gbajabiamila as the party had decided to throw its weight behind them.
The NWC member also confirmed that the party had zoned the position of the Deputy Senate President to the South-South.
He said the party had not made any official statement on that and other positions because it didn’t want to muddle up things.
He added, “The two (Lawan and Gbajabiamila) have already received the blessings of the party leaders including President Muhammed Buhari. This is why the two have been meeting with lawmakers across the political party divides.
“We don’t want a repeat of 2015 when some traitors stole their way against the party’s interest.
“You can see what their treachery caused the nation as many lofty ideas of President Buhari requiring the National Assembly’s support were either frustrated or delayed.
“Take a look at the unnecessary delay in budget passage for example and when it was eventually passed, it was tinkered with for selfish reasons against national interest. We have learnt that and we are moving ahead as fast as we can.”