President-elect Muhammadu Buhari is not supporting any candidate for the leadership of the National Assembly.
Gen. Buhari will support “due process” in the election of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, his spokesman said yesterday.
Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued in Abuja, said Gen. Buhari was willing to work with any leader of the Senate, irrespective of what part of the country he or she hails from.
He spoke of false insinuations that he was backing a particular candidate, saying: “I am prepared to work with any leaders that the House or Senate selects; it doesn’t matter who the person is or where he or she is from.
“There is due process for the selection of leaders of the National Assembly. I will not interfere in that process.”
Gen. Buhari added that Nigerians should begin to get used to no more “business as usual.
“Nigeria has indeed entered a new dispensation,” he said. “My administration does not intend to repeat the same mistakes made by previous governments.”
There is an ongoing contest for the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly. Gen. Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC), which controls the majority in the federal legislature, has heightened the pervading suspense as it is yet to announce the geo-political zone that will take the Senate presidency and House of Representatives Speaker.
Senators Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) and George Akume Benue (North East) are the frontrunners for Senate president.
Saraki and Akume are from North Central while Lawan is from Northeast.
In the House of Representatives, the frontrunners are Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos), Abdulmumin Jibrin (Kano), Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi), Mohammed Monguno (Borno) and Pally Iriase (Edo).
Already, there are claims and counter claims on who controls the majority of followers in the Senate presidency race.
The Like Minds’ group said 65 senators have endorsed Senators Bukola Saraki and Ali Ndume from Borno State, who is also reported to be interested.
It claimed that 15 senators from the Northeast, nine from Northwest, 11 of the 18 APC senators from the Northcentral, 11 from the Southwest and 27 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators are in The Like Minds camp, led by Senator-elect Dino Melaye, which is backing Saraki.
But another group – the Senator Ahmad Lawan Camp – yesterday faulted the claim.
A senator-elect from the Lawan camp said his group had the endorsement of 20 senators from Northwest, 12 Senators from Southwest and two from Yobe State.
He added that “even PDP Senators have now queued up behind Lawan”
Said the source: “In the Eighth Senate, we want to select our own leaders. The party will have an input but it is important to select someone with integrity, experience and a transparent leader.”
There are indications that the Southeast caucus is split into two camps. Some senators-elect from the zone may have decided to jettison an earlier plan to make the Southeast produce the deputy Senate president.
Also yesterday, a delegation of Benue State leaders took their campaign for Akume to Gen. Buhari at the Defence House in Abuja.
Governor-elect Samuel Ortom led the team, which included retired senior military officers and members of the National Assembly.
Ortom echoed “the will and desires of our people for the candidacy of our leader, Senator George Akume, for the office of President of the Senate”.
He said: “In advanced democracies, leaders move up the ladder after exhibiting tremendous capabilities in their responsibilities. Senator Akume has shown more than enough of these qualities. It is under the leadership of this distinguished Nigerian that the APC grew in leaps and bounds within the Northcentral region.
“Today, we stand here to raise the destiny of this nation because of the contributions of this great leader. For us in Benue, we believe that this effort be recognised and the state rewarded with the position of President of the Senate.”
He also drew the attention of the President-elect to the plight of ex-service men, saying: “His Excellency would recall the role played by ex-Servicemen in keeping the unity of this country.
“Sadly, these patriots are often times ignored and left to die in penury. The situation where the ex-service men go for months without their monthly pension calls for concern. We believe that in tackling corruption, this too should be looked into with a view to nipping it in the bud.”
Ortom said: “Benue State has played important roles in the unity of this country at very critical times. We have also done tremendously well in both the national elections and governorship elections. It is therefore our hope that the state will be rewarded with placements of our people in federal MDAs in your administration.
“We are happy that Benue State shares a long history of affinity with you, right from your service in the Nigerian Army as a Brigade Commander in the state. You are, therefore, not new to us and we are not new to you.
“Mr President-elect, there is no doubt that your victory in the last presidential election was fuelled by your strong conviction to serve Nigeria and the tenacity which you have exemplified throughout your aspiration to the office of the President of this country. We, therefore, admire this courage.
“Your staying power in the political struggle since 2003 is akin to the fighting spirit in every Benue person. This is indeed the same spirit that has led to the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to form the collective will and move Nigeria away from the decadence that pervaded in the last couple of years.
“Benue State is an agrarian state with vast potentials in agriculture. It is a huge base for economic growth when properly harnessed. It is in this light that we are truly encouraged and excited when you declared that your administration will shift focus from oil to agriculture.
“To us in Benue, this singular move and perhaps many more by your administration, would put the state on the fast lane of economic growth where jobs and wealth will be created for our people. It is a great show of commitment in reviving the hidden treasures of the North. We support this initiative completely.
“Another critical issue is that of electricity generation and distribution: Your Excellency would recall that this sector is one that has suffered from inconsistent policy decisions to outright neglect. Like every other state, Benue needs a leap from the present decay in the sector to boost economic empowerment.
He told him to address the security challenges in the country saying “let me draw our attention to a very familiar threat to lives and property in this country. And that is insecurity. As we all know, no country or state can develop without security. When we live in peace, we can then put in place strategic plans to boost our economic development.
“We are all too familiar with the incessant clashes between pastoralists and farmers in many parts of the country. From Benue to Plateau, Taraba to Zamfara, Katsina and name it, several communities have been sacked by these people whose business it has been to spill innocent blood.
“For us in Benue State, our people who are mostly farmers cannot even afford to go to their farms any longer for the fear of these people. Our new government in Benue will be happy to partner with the federal government to bring this menace to an end as soon as possible”.
Gen. Buhari said Nigerians should thank God for the use of the card reader and the PVC which he said made the victory of the APC possible in the elections.
He said: “I think Nigerians have decided, it has been a rough journey for the last years, they have realised it, we thank God and we thank technology which made it possible because if not for PVC and card readers, the normal thing would have happened. The normal thing which sent me to Supreme Court three times and I think that contributed to me aging so fast;
“I was in the Supreme Court 2003, 2007 and 2011 but again it says a lot about tenacity of purpose and eventually I’m here.
“I beg senator Akume and the governor elect not to make my 2019 attempt too difficult. Your shopping list, you are already reporting me to your constituency, what is outstanding in respect of Benue State, if it is done it is you if it is not done it is Buhari.
I assure you that we will do our best to ensure that you understand our subsequent actions from now onwards and we’ll do our best especially as it affects the employment of the youth and the security of the country generally.
He commended the United States and Britain for the role they played in the success of the election saying “they were really very concerned about Nigeria’s security and that’s why we must appreciate people of conscience all over the world
“They don’t need anything from us. They have arrived at a level where they look after their people, they have all the industry in place, have security in place, are people of conscience, they don’t want to see human beings even animals suffering anywhere in the world.
“For them to bring and sustain pressure on our government to respect our constitution, conduct free fair credible elections and hand over I think we are grateful
“A lot of people believe that hell will be let lose this year in Nigeria, a lot of people that could afford it left the country but thanks to technology we are maintaining contact.”
Source: The Nation