Showdown Looms In Senate Over Minority Leadership Seat

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The jostle for the Senate minority leadership seat appears to be creating uneasy calm among senators who are members of the opposition parties following moves by some vested interests to impose leadership on them.

In the 10th Senate, the APC has 59 senators; PDP, 36; LP, 8; SDP, 2; NNPP, 2; YPP, 1; and APGA, 1.

The four principal positions reserved for the opposition parties in the Senate are minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy whip.

In a move to get his allies into minority leadership positions in the Red Chamber, the immediate past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, met Senate President, Godswill Akpabio on Thursday.

The meeting held at the National Assembly lasted for several hours. Wike left the parliament around 6:30pm without talking to the newsmen.

The former Rivers State governor is said to have pushed his associate, Kingsley Chinda, as minority leader in the House of Representatives, though he is yet to be confirmed.

But the PDP which has the highest minority seats with 36 senators vowed to resist any plot by the ruling APC or other interested groups to foist a minority leadership on the Senate.

Also, lawmakers from the opposition caucus said they were aware of moves by forces inside and outside the Senate to divide the minority parties and foist a compromised leadership on them. They, however, assured that the plot would fail.

Speaking with Daily Trust yesterday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said Nigerians should rest assured that the party along with its senators will install a minority leadership that will ensure separation of powers, and checks and balances.  He said, “Our Party is a party of process and we follow our rules. On the issue of minority leadership in the Senate, the PDP is in touch with its senators in line with our democratic practice.

“What is paramount for us as a party is to have a minority leadership that will ensure a robust opposition in the Senate and in the general interest of Nigerians.

“We are going to focus on ensuring that the democratic tenets and practices of checks and balances and the principles of separation of powers. We are in touch with our people and their statement is in tune with our position as a party, we are having conversations with them and at the end of the day what you are going to get is our position in having a firm and robust opposition in the National Assembly.

“We will ensure the principle of checks and balances,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, opposition senators vowed to resist any attempt to foist “compromised leadership” on them by forces within and outside the National Assembly.

The lawmakers, in a joint statement said the minority caucus would select its leaders after consultation with their respective political parties without undue interference from anti-democratic forces.

They emphasized that no senator has yet been endorsed or selected for any minority position.

The statement was jointly signed by Mohammed Adamu Aliero, Henry Seriake Dickson, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Abdul Ningi, Patrick Abba Moro, Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, Sumaila Kawu and Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah.

It said, “It has come to the notice of the Minority Political Parties in the Senate of an attempt by forces inside and outside the Senate to divide the Minority Parties and foist a pliant and compromised leadership on them.

“We have pledged to work constructively with the new senate leadership and the executive branch to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people. We consequently hereby advise and caution that they should not aid any group inside or outside the Senate to divide and destabilise the minority parties and the Senate institution.

“Senators of the minority parties would meet when the Senate reconvenes and, in consultation with our respective political parties, would select its leaders without undue interference from anti-democratic forces within or outside the Senate.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no Senator has yet been endorsed or selected for any minority position as this would await due process as agreed by all minority parties in their last meeting.

“Attempts to foist a one-party dictatorship would be resisted and would fail.

“We call on all members of the minority political parties to work together in unity to defend the democratic institution of the Senate and Nigeria.”

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