The race for the Senate Presidency may have become tougher as two contenders, former governors, Godswill Akpabio and Abdulaziz Yari are at loggerheads over the number of lawmakers loyal to their camps.

Senators-elect will at the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, 2023, elect a new Senate President to pilot the affairs of the Senate for the next four years.

According to sources in the Yari’s camp, about 65 senators were already in their camp over the last-minute exit of lawmakers from the opposition’s camp.

The Deputy Director-General of Akpabio/ Barau Campaign Organisation, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central, was quoted to have told the Media on Monday that the campaign is appealing to senators-elect to support Akpabio’s bid.

Some of the senators-elect hinted that they are having a rethink on Sen. Akpabio’s Senate Presidency over accusations that he was disrespectful to the institution of the legislature when he, as the Minister of Niger Delta, openly accused National Assembly members of hugely benefiting from large contracts in the NDDC without a proof.

A senator-elect representing the New Nigeria People’s Party in Kano South, Suleiman Kawu stated that the Northern caucus led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan was pulling their weight behind Senator Yari.

He said, “This 10th Assembly is different, the lawmakers will choose their leaders and the person, we are supporting as Senate President is Senator Yari”

Another senator-elect who pleaded anonymity stated that he has withdrawn his support from the Akpabio’s camp because of an issue he once had with the lawmakers.

He said, “I have withdrawn support for Senator Akpabio. It’s not only me. Many of us have withdrawn our support and it will show on the floor.

“I used to have very high regard for Senator Akpabio as a person but I can’t support him to be the Senate President.

“How can he (Akpabio) come and preside over an institution which he once described as a cesspit of corruption after benefitting from the same institution” the Senator-elect queried.

Meanwhile, the Akpabio camp has said it was seriously mobilising Senators-elect across the three major parties: the All Progressives Congress, People’s Democratic Party and Labour Party.

In a Newspaper publication, the group listed the names of 71 senators who were on their team.

Among others, the 25 Pro-Akpabio Governors include the Governors of Kwara, Nasarawa, Benue, Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Ekiti, Osun, Kogi, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Kaduna, Borno, Ebonyi and Ondo States.

These governors, majority of whom are of the APC-controlled States maintained that they are vehemently upholding the unanimous decision of the National Working of the party.

The Governors added that the NWC has made the most profound decision that will promote institutional stability and the peaceful conduct of legislative proceedings in the 10th Assembly in the next four years.

Specifically when Akpabio visited Governor Yahaya Bello in Kogi State, the Governor described the aspirations of Senators Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau for the positions of the Senate President and Deputy of the 10th Senate as his personal project.

He also stated that Akpabio, a former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, was his role model, adding that the senator’s uncommon style of governance as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, endeared him to want to be like the former governor.

The governor said he will work to achieve stability for President Bola Tinubu Presidency.

Also, the Ekiti state Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, said senators-elect and other stakeholders in the state were behind the candidacy of Senator Godswill Akpabio to succeed Ahmad Lawan as the next Senate President.

He said, “In Ekiti State, we are committed to a united National Assembly and we are also committed to the decision of the National Working Committee of the APC with respect to the zoning and you can attest to the fact that all the senators are here with me just to have dinner with Akpabio.

“We are supporting his aspiration as directed by the national body of the party. We are in this together, we are not only supporting, we will identify with him publicly and that is what I have done.

“All Ekiti senators and the leaders, all the former governors – we are in the same boat. We respect the sanctity of the party and we appeal to all contenders to also follow the advice of the National Working Committee.”

The Governor of Nasarawa state, Abdullahi Sule had also said that APC governors from the North have resolved to support President-elect Bola Tinubu’s choice of National Assembly presiding officers.

Sule told the aspirants: “We cannot in any way fight the choice of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We cannot in any way fight the choice of our party.”

Governor Babajide Sanwo in Lagos State said he hoped the 10th Assembly would be about, “Shaping new course, breaking records” to surpass and improve on the antecedents of the 9th Assembly. He described the group of senators-elect across party divides as “a well-thought-out group.”

Also, a source close to APC Governors pointed out that they are looking forward to a most peaceful, stable, result-oriented and highly productive Senate in the 10th Assembly.

He stressed that based on the demands of governance in Nigeria at the moment, both the Executive and the Legislature must have a cordial and stimulating working relationship.

The source maintained that rapid development and economic stability are only foreseeable in an atmosphere of shared vision and cordiality between the Tinubu administration and the leadership of the 10th National Assembly and other critical stakeholders of the political process.

The source said they detest the despicable situation that reared its ugly head between 2015 and 2019 where the Saraki-led Senate was constantly at loggerheads with the Buhari-led Federal Executive Council.

He added that the messy imbroglio contributed to the situation where salient policy proposals which emanated from the executive were either delayed or thrown overboard on the platter of sheer politics of acrimony, bitterness and high-handedness.

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