National Assembly Contests: The men driving the issues

The fangs of the battle

A combination of carrot and stick by the , was apparent as the National Chairman of the party, briefed the press in the party headquarters yesterday. Part of the carrot was the softer language and appeal to the sensibilities of members-elect and senators-elect not to break the unity of the newly formed party having its first stay in power in Abuja. The stick was a summons to a meeting with which was yet to commence at press time.

Recalcitrant members were expected to be put under pressure to succumb to the endorsement of the party which last week put forward for the posts of Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The stick of using the office of the vice-president to whip the recalcitrant APC members-elect and senators-elect was of little effect last night following the consensus of supporters of to abstain from that meeting.

The men in the frontline

Hon Ogor is a four term member of the House who first came to the House in 2003 on the basis of the principle of rotation in his constituency. Once he arrived the House he became a central figure in the power caucus and was a central figure in many of the power intrigues in the Aminu Masari House.

Ogor was the Deputy Majority Leader in the last House, having been a central figure in the momentum that pushed forward to upset the party’s choice of for the speaker of the House.

Even as deputy to Mrs. Adeola-Akande, he was generally acknowledged as the real leader of the in the House after Tambuwal’s exit from the party. His position as PDP leader in the new House is now almost indisputable.

He has been a central broker in the discussions between the agents of Dogora and the PDP caucus. Suggestions were that he would come on board as the Deputy Speaker to Dogara. However, such suggestions are countered by the claim that Ogor would be better as Minority Leader and that moving him to the position of Deputy Speaker would lead to the disappearance of the PDP in the House.

He is the leader of the PDP caucus in the party who has just left the office of Senate President that is now in contention. Senator Mark had been believed to be wholly in support of ’s aspiration as his replacement. That was until he formed a partnership with Senator George Akume, who is well known as a harsh rival of Senator Mark in .

Senator Akume contested against Mark in the 2007 leadership contest and lost and not too long after shifted to the opposition.

Given Senator Mark’s past lack of cordiality with Senator Saraki and the latter’s purported 2019 presidential aspiration, there are suggestions that Senator Mark may consider Akume a lesser evil he could stomach than Saraki.

Even though he stepped out of the House less than two weeks ago, Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s popularity remains rocket high among members of the former House. The governor is known to be pushing the Dogara project and has reportedly been working the phones among fellow governors to canvass consideration for Dogara.

His intervention together with Governor Yari have lately helped to check the religious factor among Northern Muslims who had shifted support for Dogara for religious considerations. Dogara is a Christian from Bauchi State.

The is believed to be pushing the party’s position on the endorsement of Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for the office of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.

Tinubu’s involvement in the contest has received mixed reactions with some alleging that it would be wrong for him having produced the Vice-President to also produce the Senate President and the Speaker.

However, has not projected himself as Tinubu’s candidate neither has . However, the convergence of Tinubu’s political machine towards the aspiration of both men has left little doubt on where the party leader is standing on the issue.

Remarkably, almost all Southwest members-elect and senators-elect on the platform of the APC have openly pledged allegiance to the Lawan and Gbajabiamila. However, under the cover of the secret voting system, a number of them will depart from the endorsed candidates. That exactly was the reason Saraki refused to participate in the open voting system last Saturday as at least six APC senators-elect from the Southwest had secretly pledged allegiance to him.

The Jagaban as he is popularly called is believed to be pulling out as much resources as are available to him to push through the party candidates.

President has so far removed himself from the squabble and given his word that he would work with any one that emerges as Senate President or as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

However, the president’s body language is another thing. Indications that the body language tilted towards Lawan is said to have been the primary motif Tinubu dropped Akume for Lawan.

A number of the president’s core loyalists in the Senate are also supporting Lawan. But that is where it stops. The president’s inclinations in the leadership contest in the House of Representatives is as vague as anyone can guess.

Written by Emmanuel Aziken, a political editor for Vanguard Newspaper.

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