Saturday, May 9, 2015

No preferred candidate for Senate presidency, says APC

The All Progressives Congress on Friday said it had no preferred candidate for the Senate President position.

This is even as supporters of former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, have begun to celebrate his perceived secret endorsement by about 70 senators drawn from across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Saturday PUNCH leant in Abuja that APC has yet to take final decision on the issue of zoning. The party has tentatively zoned the position to the North-Central.

Those being touted for the position from the zone include Senators Saraki, George Akume and Abdullahi Adamu.

It was gathered that the national leadership of the party is trying to avoid a backlash from its members in the Senate.

This, it was learnt, gave rise to what some senators say is a gentleman agreement to allow them freely choose the next Senate President.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said the party currently had no preferred candidate.

Mohammed said, “As of today, as I am speaking to you, the party does not have a preferred candidate. Like in every political contest, all those who are qualified and are interested are free to campaign to their colleagues and we cannot stop them.”

It was gathered that party leaders from across the six geo- political zones have succeeded in impressing it upon the party to build upon the success of its presidential primaries by supporting a transparent process.

The campaign team of Saraki is said to have secured the support of 70 senators.

A senator-elect from one of the northern states, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said, “We have been meeting. I can tell you that from the meetings we have had so far, Saraki’s support base is increasing. We were close to 70 at the last meeting.”

Saraki, it was learnt, is relying on his former governor colleagues who are now senators-elect.

Former Benue State Governor, Senator George Akume, had in a statement last week, denied nursing the ambition to become Senate President.

The statement, signed by Akume’s media adviser, Mrs. Beckie Orpin, said, “The Senate Minority Leader is not pre-occupied with positions for now but rather, he is conferring with his colleagues on the need to work for the betterment of the lives of the good people of Nigeria and have a vibrant National Assembly.”

The internal wrangling within the North-East caucus of the party was also received with jubilation by the Saraki camp.

Leader of the caucus, Senator Danjuma Goje, had in a press conference said the caucus had not endorsed any of its members for the position.

He stated this in response to the news that Senator Ahmed Lawan was endorsed by the caucus for the position.

However, the Yobe State caucus of the National Assembly, under the leadership of Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, responded by endorsing Lawan as its preferred choice.

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