By Timothy Choji, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari alongside the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress APC, Adams Oshiomhole, on Monday night met with Senators-elect on the platform of the governing party to strategise for the emergence of a consensus leadership for the 9th Senate at a dinner in the Presidential Villa.
In his remarks, the National Chairman of the APC cautions the lawmakers from repeating the mistakes of the past where the governing party produced the Senate President, with an opposition Senator as his deputy.
Lack of consensus among Senators on the platform of the majority APC members resulted in the election of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President of the 8th Senate in alliance with People’s Democratic Party PDP’s Senators later produced Senator Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy.
Need for Consensus
Oshiomhole called on the lawmakers to work on a consensus since the APC Senators are in the majority so as not to give room to the PDP members to hijack the Senate leadership.
“We have discussed those specifics and because these are businesses that have to do with elections, as a caucus this is more or less a meeting of the incoming caucus to discuss leadership question and to build consensus around individuals so that people don’t have to go trading, generating heat in a way that can weaken internal solidarity in the party.
“Of course, we are aware that the opposition is expecting that the APC Senators are going to fight themselves, the House of Reps are going to fight themselves and then they will take advantage and pick who they will support. They will be disappointed because our Senators are seasoned Senators, we have a cream of ranking Senators that are in their own right capable of providing leadership of the senate. So, what we have to do is to weave all these together and arrive at a consensus of who leads and everybody follows. So that we will have this time, a more cohesive National Assembly and I think it went extremely well,”Oshiomhole stated.
Oshiomhole urged the President, as the head of the APC political family, to wade into the leadership struggle to avoid the repeat of 2015 power struggle that resulted in the opposition taking over strategic committees in the Senate.
According to him, with about 65 Senators on the platform of the APC and over 230 House of Representatives members, the ruling party is in a comfortable position to form the leadership without the input of the opposition members.
Oshiomhole stressed that it was imperative for the party to get the leadership of the National Assembly right, for a seamless working relationship between the legislature and the executive.
“We had the first meeting with the President who is also the leader of the party and also with serving Senators, newly elected Senators and ranking Senators. The whole purpose of this is to bond the new and old members, to establish a new of relationship between the executive and the legislature.
“The system talks about the separation of powers between the executive and legislature and the two must handshake for things to happen. And when you have a President that is determined to drive changes, fundamental changes that will affect our habits, our life style, review the economy, deal with the security situation, fight corruption as fiercely as he is trying to do, he will need a very supportive legislative arm of government. And happily, the Nigerian people have given us the number in the legislative arm of government, all we have agreed today is that we will use these numbers as a functioning whole to determine the leadership of the senate in a way that we are not going to go to the floor of the senate and allow the opposition dictate who becomes the senate president. Because, we have comfortable majority to drive that, what we have to do is to manage that majority,” he said.
Also commenting, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who is also a senator-elect, said: “We took a step back to 2015 and reviewed what happened in the Senate and House of Representatives. Now, we want to go as one APC family notwithstanding our brothers from the other party. We are now talking about Nigeria first. The President requested that we all work for the betterment of Nigeria. As regards the leadership, the president requested that we work hand in hand to ensure that we come out as one family, so that what belongs to majority goes to majority and what belongs to minority goes to minority.
“We assured him of full cooperation to ensure we revamp economy, tackle insecurity and fight corruption. We assured him that the ninth Assembly will work in harmony with the executive arm.”
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau said: “What the President has done today, I think is the right step in the right direction. The last time we did not have the opportunity of this politics but today, Mr. President invited us. Because, we are governors and we also dialogue with our senators.
“Mr. President said in order to avoid rancour, let me lay the the way forward and we are very happy he has laid the way forward and because of that we are all going to work towards achieving the desire of Mr. President for the good of this country.”
As it stands, four ranking members of the Senate have openly shown interests in contesting for the position of the Senate President.
They include the incumbent Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, Senator Ali Ndume and former Abia state Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.