All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders yesterday moved to prevent the “hijack” of the new National Assembly leadership. They met with would-be lawmakers.
President Muhammadu Buhari dined with serving APC senators and senators-elect at the New Banquet Hall of the State House.
The meeting came on the heels of a similar parley between APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and House of Representatives members-elect at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.
At the President’s meeting with the lawmakers were APC leaders, including Lagos, Plateau, Kogi, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara and Osun governors.
Oshiomhole and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, were also present.
Although, details of the meeting were unknown, it is believed to be connected with zoning and selection of the leadership of the Ninth National Assembly.
Unlike in 2015 when the leadership was hijacked by senators, against the wish of the APC leadership, the ruling party is determined to ensure that its wishes prevail now.
The dinner, which started around 8pm, was still in progress at the time of filing this report.
Senators Ahmed Lawan, Ali Ndume and Danjuma Goje have indicated interest in Senate President.
Also yesterday, Oshiomhole ruled out the possibility of the ruling party sharing legislative powers with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Giving an insight into what to expect from the Ninth National Assembly, the party chair insisted that the mistakes of 2015 would not recur.
The leadership of the National Assembly was constituted on June 8, 2015 against the directive of the party. Those listed for principal offices were meeting at the State House when the lawmakers elected Dr. Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP Deputy Senate President.
Addressing the Representatives-elect, Oshiomhole said the APC was not prepared to share principal offices and headship of critical committees with the PDP, except for positions reserved for minority members.
Oshiomhole told the lawmakers that Nigerians have reposed confidence in the APC, giving it overwhelming majority in the House and will use the numerical strength to its advantage.
According to him, Nigerians have punished 15 out of the 16 senators who defected the APC by not re-electing them.
He urged the members to collaborate with the government on the implementation of the party’s programmes.
Calling on the would-be lawmakers not to allow anybody to divide them, Oshiomhole said his leadership will consult with President Muhammadu Buhari and all the leaders of the APC.
“We will work out a sensible zoning formula that seeks to carry everybody along and give people chances to demonstrate their capacities and their capabilities. We are working on that,” he said, adding:
“Somebody told me the opposition party people are already doing something, raising money to bribe people and I said, ‘no, we are anti-corruption, we cannot be corrupted’.
“If they bring N1 billion to each member, a PDP person will not be Speaker, a PDP person will not be Deputy Speaker, a PDP person will not be Whip, a PDP person will not be Leader and a PDP person will not take any of the committees that are meant for the ruling party. We are determined to achieve that and be rest assured that the party will stand by you.”