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.
He said: “The first is the challenge of ensuring that this time around we ensure that we have a leadership of the National Assembly that shares the vision of the executive. Although we speak to separation of power, but there is only one government and unless the various arms pursue the same agenda, it is difficult for the executive to
realise its purpose because legislative backing is often required for the executive actions.
“So, I will expect that you bear in mind that we are one family joined together as shown in our broom, with a share commitment to bail Nigeria out of the condition in which we found it in 2015.
“And that you have the numbers and we will use those numbers to ensure that we have a leadership that commands the trust and the respect of all the members of the House of Representatives.
“There will be contestation; that is why we are in democracy, but after the contestation and debate, we have to agree, and once you have agreed, you move forward.
“We have the numbers to produce the Speaker and we will produce the Speaker who must be a member of the APC. We have the numbers to produce the Deputy Speaker and we will use the numbers to produce the Deputy Speaker, who must be a member of the APC. We have the number and we must use the number to elect a House Leader who must be a member of APC.