Senate presidential aspirants Danjuma Goje, Ali Ndume and Ahmed Lawan have intensified their lobbying of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators, ahead of the election of principal officers of the National Assembly.
The three All Progressives Congress (APC) senators intensified their consultations with the PDP caucus, following official clearance by the party leadership.
Goje, Ndume and Lawan are from the Northeast, underscoring the affirmation of the zoning of the number three position to the region.
However, despite the zoning, there is no consensus on the selection of likely beneficiary among senators from the zone.
Although the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, has declared that the ruling party should produce the key officers of the Senate, there is an understanding that the numerical strength of the PDP senators is a factor in the election.
The APC has 65 senators-elect, but their ranks are divided, owing to their antagonistic positions over the party’s endorsement of Dr. Lawan as the anointed candidate.
Although PDP has 43 senators-elect, parliamentary sources said they are more United, and hence, likely to produce a bloc vote.
Although the Young Progressive Party (YPP) has a senator, Ifeanyi Ubah, the lone senator has been gravitating towards the APC’s direction. He accompanied Lawan to Lagos during his consultative visit to the Southwest.
The three aspirants have appointed contact persons to open talks with PDP lawmakers for the purpose of strategic collaboration, ahead of the poll.
However, the sources cannot confirm whether monetary inducement will be a weapon of lobbying as the lawmakers warn up for the crucial in-house election.
A source said the antecedents of Goje and Ndume, who were defectors from the PDP, has enhanced their consultations with the PDP caucus.
Although Lawan has never associated with PDP in the 20 years that he has been in the National Assembly, he has changed tactics and been reaching out to the opposition lawmakers.
According to a source, the three aspirants who have been lobbying their PDP counterparts have not promised anything to the PDP caucus other than the promise of ‘inclusion.’
A PDP chieftain said the main opposition party is maintaining keen interest in the developments heralding the emergence of the new Senate President and other principals.
“Unlike 2015, the PDP is not bidding for the deputy Senate president. But, with the unity currently existing in the PDP Senate caucus, a bloc vote in a particular direction will be significant.
“I know that PDP leadership will take a position when it decides to meet with its senators before the election takes place,” he added.
An APC senator, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said: “The reality is that none of the three who want to head the Senate can ignore the PDP. The party has endorsed Lawan, only senators-elect will be there to vote and elect a new Senate President. Those of us supporting Lawan in the spirit of party supremacy have agreed to extend our tentacles. If we don’t go to the PDP senators, the other two will go. Therefore, I can confirm that we are interacting with them(PDP senators) on this issue.”
Also, Goje’s old allies in PDP have enlisted in his bid for the highest parliamentary office, said a source.
“But, Goje is cautious. He is in a dilemma. He is sensitive to the party’s position on Lawan’s endorsement. Unlike Lawan and Ndume, it will not be difficult for Goje to penetrate the PDP and secure their support. He is in the race. But, he is not as aggressive as Lawan and Ndume,”added the source.
PDP senator-elect have also told the contact persons that they will resist any attempt to change the Senate Standing Order on the open secret ballot system.
Yesterday in Lagos, Ndume confirmed that he has started lobbying PDP senators, saying that they are critical to the proposed exercise.
He told reporters that, as far as the election of the Senate Predident is concerned, all senators-elect, whether of APC or PDP, are very important.
Ndume said he has put into motion the machinery for reaching out to PDP Senate caucus, following the clearance by the APC national leadership.
He said: “I have the number of all the 109 senators-elect.”
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