Home Politics Minority leader: PDP may dump Tambuwal for Plateau senator

Minority leader: PDP may dump Tambuwal for Plateau senator

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Strong indications emerged on Friday that the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party may pitch its tent with a senator from Plateau State as the minority leader of the red chamber.

This came as more opposition senators oppose the ambition of a former governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, to lead them in the Senate.

In the current Senate, Senator Istifanus Gyang is the only PDP senator from Plateau State, as the two other senators from the state are in the APC.

Investigations by one of our correspondents indicated that the opposition senators felt it was wrong to cede the position to the North-West since the zone already had two principal offices in the National Assembly; deputy Senate president and Speaker, House of Representatives.

The Speaker, Tajudeen Abass, is from Kaduna State while the Deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jibrin, is from Kano State.

A PDP senator who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “North-West is not the only zone in Nigeria. There are six geopolitical zones in the country and we cannot concentrate in the North-West alone.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is from the same zone and he had just finished two terms in office. Tambuwal is a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was a governor for eight years. He was one of those who also worked against the PDP in 2015 and made us (the PDP) an opposition political party. He should go and queue and work for the party in the next elections.

“Don’t forget he even made us lose the Sokoto governorship to the All Progressives Congress in his state. So, he has more work to do in his state than at the federal level.”

Meanwhile, as senators prepare for their resumption on July 4, the battle for the principal offices has continued to gain traction with more lawmakers indicating interest in the principal offices.

For the governing party, some of the lawmakers vying for the position of the Senate leader are Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) and Fatai Buhari (Oyo North). It was also learnt that Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) has joined the race.

According to a reliable source familiar with the matter, Ndume had intensified his efforts to get the position given that he was the director-general of the Godswill Akpabio senate presidency campaign.

As provided for by the relevant laws and rules of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, aside from the two presiding officer positions, eight principal positions are also to be filled by lawmakers on the platforms of both the governing and minority political parties.

The other principal officers from the governing party are the Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Whip, while the opposition parties would produce the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip.

When plenary resumes from its recess, the Senate President, Akpabio, is expected to read letters from concerned political parties on their nominations for the positions.

At the moment, however, none of the parties has disclosed their possible candidates for the principal offices. But according to multiple sources, the ruling All Progressives Congress might zone the Senate Majority Leader position to the South-West.

PDP divided

There are indications that the PDP’s nomination for the minority leader position in the red chamber might face some opposition from other lawmakers. According to findings, different interests are jostling to produce the candidate.

The PUNCH had reported that the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, were in support of Tambuwal. However, Sunday PUNCH learnt that the leader of the opposition caucus, Adamu Aliero, visited the Senate President on Tuesday to inform him that some opposition senators had unanimously chosen him as the minority leader.

A senator from the North-West, who is aware of the development, said, “Aliero went to meet the Senate President that we, the opposition lawmakers, have agreed to make him the minority leader. Where and when was such a decision made?

“Others are also fighting for themselves, so you see that the PDP is facing a lot of challenges with various interests vested everywhere. Although the PDP is yet to communicate its intention to members, the handwriting on the wall says that it is going to the North-West.

“That means it’s going to be a battle between Tambuwal and Aliero.”

Also, sources among the lawmakers said although Tambuwal might be Atiku’s choice, Aliero stood a better chance based on his closeness to President Bola Tinubu.

The lawmaker said, “If things are not carefully done, this might be the end of the opposition caucus, particularly the PDP. Almost everybody wants to be the minority leader. From the look of things, nobody wants to step down to support the other person. Each person is fighting for personal interest.

“Atiku might want Tambuwal but the person that seems to be pulling some weight is Aliero. A lot of personal interests that might tear the PDP apart are coming to play, even outside those of former Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and his men.”

LP’s Kingibe’s chances

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the opposition caucus had decided to cede the deputy minority leader position to Labour Party’s Ireti Kingibe, who represents the Federal Capital Territory. Her choice was said to be premised on her support for Akpabio’s emergence as the Senate President and for gender balance.

A source stated, “Kingibe will get the deputy minority leader. The Minority Whip is likely going to the South-West. That of the deputy minority whip hasn’t been decided, so it’s unclear if PDP will also give one to the opposition parties.”

At the moment, those to emerge as the principal officers might become clear in the course of the week when the chamber reconvenes

“Before Tuesday, everything would have been sorted,” the source stated.

Forum supports Bamidele

The President, African Civil Society Forum, Dr Tunji John Asaolu, on Friday at a media briefing called on senators to support Bamidele in his quest to become the Senate leader. He argued that like in the past, Senate leaders emerged from the geopolitical zone of the President and that the current Assembly should not be different.

Asaolu stated, “The Senate leader should be zoned to the South-West in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice. We also maintain that a ranking senator, a competent and experienced senator from the South-West should be appointed the Senate leader because President Tinubu is from the zone. This will aid the smooth working relationship of both the executive and legislative arms of government.

“Our decisions are based on the antecedent of the last two Senate leaders in the second term of former President Muhammadu Buhari; Senators Yahaya Abdullahi and Ibrahim Gobir were both from the North-West, the same zone with Buhari. Senator Victor Ndoma Egba from the South-South was the Senate leader when Dr Goodluck Jonathan was elected president.

“We recommend Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele based on his pedigree, competence and commitment to nation-building over the years. He was a two-term commissioner in Lagos State, Member, House of Representatives, in 2011, among other numerous achievements.”

Buhari gets support

Earlier, an APC chieftain in Oyo State, Afeez Repete, called on senators, particularly those from the South-West, and other relevant stakeholders to support Buhari to become the Senate leader.

While describing Buhari as a party man endowed with leadership skills, Repete stated, “Senator Fatai Buhari is a great party man and highest ranking senator in the South-West with a high level of competence to assume the post of the Senate leader. He speaks two of the three major languages in Nigeria fluently and he is a unifier, which makes him qualify for that exalted post.

“It is therefore on this note that I call on the National Working Committee of our party (APC), all stakeholders and determinants of who becomes the Senate leader to rally around Buhari, and I can assure them they won’t have cause to regret their support for him.”

Group supports Tambuwal

A pressure group affiliated to the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP Action 2023, has backed Tambuwal to emerge as the minority leader. It faulted the recent attacks on Tambuwal by those it described as ‘dictators’ afraid of the growing political profile of the former governor.

In a statement on Saturday by the group’s chairman, Rufus Omeire, the body accused some unnamed persons of levelling unsubstantiated allegations against Tambuwal, for reasons not unconnected with his aspiration to the Senate minority leadership.

The statement added, “In the National Assembly, a Speaker outranks a senator. As a former Speaker, he has the ranking and qualifications to become the minority leader of the 10th Senate. So, why are they afraid of Tambuwal? Are they worried that he may become a stumbling block to the alleged plot for complete dictatorship in Nigeria?”

He dismissed insinuations that Tambuwal was a betrayal, noting that he never betrayed his party or the country. He added that his leadership qualities also earned him the leadership of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

“To those who are sponsoring these attacks on Senator Tambuwal, let them first purge themselves of the ignoble roles they played in the last presidential elections; some Nigerians have no shame,” he stated.

He called on Akpabio “not to allow people to destabilise the Senate by dabbling into the minority leadership issue of the 10th Senate but to concentrate on assisting the President to deliver on good governance.

Conversely, a bloc in the PDP, Concerned PDP League, said it was opposed to any attempt by the party to present Tambuwal as the minority leader.

The chairman of the group, Mr Daboikiabo Warmate, had in a statement noted that the group was not in support of Tambuwal, based on his actions when he was the Speaker. He said the position should instead be zoned to a state in the North-Central, precisely Plateau.

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