The All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate has started pleading with their colleagues who failed to get tickets to contest the 2019 senatorial election not to dump the ruling party.
Some members of the caucus told Sunday Punch on Saturday that the APC leadership might withdraw names of candidates already submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission and replace them with those of the aggrieved sitting senators in order to pacify them.
It was also learnt that the lucky APC senators were currently seeking audience with President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to asking him to reward the loyalty of some of their colleagues who couldn’t get return tickets by considering them for appointments in 2019.
The Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and several other APC senators, who spoke to Sunday Punch, allayed the fears of their colleagues who are considering defection.
They pleaded with them to wait for the INEC’s final list.
The APC and other political parties had submitted the list of their candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives for the 2019 general elections to INEC.
When he discovered that his name was not on the list, Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna-Central) defected from the APC to the People’s Redemption Party last week.
Another defection was recorded in Rivers State last week for the same reason, where Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu (Rivers West) dumped the Peoples Democratic Party for the APC.
INEC has however created a window for political parties to substitute the names of their Senate and House of Representatives candidates by November 18.
Lawan, who said he had yet to see the list submitted to INEC, stated, “We are still working hard for our colleagues – senators and new members from the House of Representatives – to get their nominations because they have shown loyalty, commitment and dedication to the (Buhari-led) administration and the party. The reward for the loyalty is to give people nominations at this point.”
Also, Secretary of the Parliamentary Support Group, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who said majority of APC senators had been rewarded with tickets, however, noted that he was aware of certain peculiar cases in some states where, he admitted, it was not easy for Oshiomhole to protect the interests of some lawmakers.
Omo-Agege added, “Leaving the party at this time because of the outcome of the candidates’ list submission, I think, is premature. I will advise my colleagues, whose names were not forwarded on that Thursday, to be calm and give the National Chairman the chance and the opportunity to continue with his reconciliations.
“This is just the first component of that exercise; the party still has up to November 18 to make substitutions. I think the submission is a work in progress.”
The lawmaker stated that he could only confirm his name and others from Delta State as being on the list of candidates submitted to INEC.
He said, “I am not so sure who and what states have challenges yet, but as far as I know, I believe that the majority of my colleagues, who have challenges, scaled through, with the exception of a few. Beyond my name, I don’t know who else is on the list and who is not.
“However, I know that the National Chairman, who was very resolute in his determination to ensure that the promises made to us that serving senators would get return tickets, has, with the backing of the Presidency, fulfilled his pledge.”
In the same vein, Senator Ali Ndume urged aggrieved APC senators to remain in the ruling party, while urging the Buhari-led administration to seek ways of accommodating the lawmakers in the government in other capacities.
Ndume said, “Honestly, Adams Oshiomhole tried his best to return as many of us as possible but he had to deal with issues that are local. Most of these challenges senators have are from the home front.
“There was not much that the party could do because most of those who could not make the list are those who had issues with their governors. Other than that, the party was willing to reward loyalty with assistance. However, there are a few cases that were not possible.
“My advice is not only to the national leadership of the APC but also to the government, that they (aggrieved senators) should be carried along. The senators, who could not make it but are loyal, should be carried along. The government is big and they can make their contributions in various ways. The government is very large; they should find proper rooms for them (senators) after.”
Ndume stated that how the APC and the Buhari-led administration handled the case of aggrieved senators would determine if they would dump the ruling party or not.
Also, Senator Kabiru Marafa told our correspondent that he was satisfied with the decision of the APC not to recognise any of the party’s factions and candidates for Zamfara State.
He warned the national leadership of the party not to recognise any list as bearing the names of candidates from Zamfara State as there was no primary or consensus by members of the state chapter.
Marafa said, “That one is a painful thing but is it the reality. Whether I am okay or not, that is what happened. And it is not the fault of the NWC; it is our fault – we, the local players in Zamfara. We could not put our acts together to allow the APC panel to conduct the primaries.”