Buhari to Goje, Ndume: Lawan is APC’s candidate


* Senate leader meets PDP senators, Mode of voting in June not sure

President Muhammadu Buhari may hold a “frank” meeting with two of the three aspirants for Senate President – Sen. Danjuma Goje and Sen. Ali Ndume — on the adoption of Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan for the office.

The All Progressives Congress(APC) is working towards a lone candidate for the job.

Lawan yesterday intensified lobbying of senators-elect from the opposition, especially those from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).

The main issue between the APC team and the PDP senators-elect has been the mode of voting during the inauguration of the Senate in June.

There are indications that a block vote by PDP senators may not be possible.

According to sources, the President decided to intervene in the race for Senate president to avoid APC going into the battle as a divided house.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President will meet with Goje and Ndume to explain to them the rationale behind the adoption of Lawan as the party’s candidate for Senate president.

“Some of the aspirants have claimed that Buhari has not stated where he stands on the matter. In order not to take things for granted, the President has decided to hold a frank session with Goje and Ndume.

“ The meeting will hold at or before the weekend. But after the dialogue, the President and the party may then draw the battle line if the two aspirants do not want to respect the supremacy of APC.

“We hope reason will prevail and these aspirants will leave the party united.”

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Responding to a question, the source added: “The Presidency and the APC are working towards the emergence of one candidate for the Office of the President of the Senate. This is the maximum Buhari and other leaders may tolerate.”

A member of Lawan’s campaign team said after the meeting with more senators-elect from the opposition, especially the PDP, the Senate Leader was trying to consolidate the gains made “by building confidence and trust”.

“There are some prejudices and fears we have succeeded in addressing to allay misgivings by our colleagues,” he said, pleading not to be named because he is not permitted to talk on the issue.

The source spoke on the mode of voting during the inauguration of the National Assembly on June 6.

“Those in APC are adamant on open voting and some senators-elect in the opposition have stuck to secret ballot system. We are confident that we shall all be on the same page before the inauguration,” he said.

PDP senators-elect are not likely to vote same way.

One said: “I think because of certain interests peculiar to some of us, block voting might be difficult for PDP. We do not have the number to dominate the Senate and if Lawan wins, those opposed to him might not get befiting committees.

“So, in casting votes for any candidate, you have to align the interest of the party with the overriding interest of your constituents who are demanding the dividends of democracy. Some of us are not going to the Senate to be bench warmers.”
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Also yesterday, a Joint Consultative Forum of Northern Youth Groups dismissed the insinuations that Lawan would be remote-controlled by unseen hands if elected as Senate president.

It described the allegation as ”false and cheap blackmail”.

The forum hailed the senator as “a man of integrity, whose consistency in vying for Senate president is in line with his belief in the independence of legislature”.

In a communiqué jointly signed by the forum’s Director of Media and Publication and Chairperson of the communiqué Committee, Isah Imam Muhammed and Zainab Aliyu Sabon-Birni, the forum said among all the contending senators, only Lawan possesses leadership trait which can help Nigeria.

The forum said: “It is pertinent to state that Senator Lawan cannot be anybody’s stooge as a Senate President.”

“We appeal to other aspirants to see reason and rally round Lawan who has the capacity to lead the 9th Senate for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“ Lawan enjoys a lot of respect from the Executive arm of government, which is a good signal of a harmonious working relationship between the two arms of government in the next dispensation. ”As youths of Nigeria who are critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project, our support for Senator Lawan is predicated on our belief that he will serve as a bridge that will unite the Senate, irrespective of party leaning.

”We believe he will deploy his experience and goodwill to bring about harmonious working relationship within and among all arms of government in the next dispensation in the interest of national unity, peace and development.”

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