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Buhari Silent As Lawan, Ndume Claim Support

• I stand with party’s choice, Shettima affirms

• Beware sabotage, Borno elders warn president

• Coalition tasks Oshiomhole, APC on Onyejeocha, Tinubu

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja) and Ijeoma Thomas-Odia (Lagos)

Barely
55 days to the election of the next Senate President, the cloud of
uncertainty over President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice remains dense.
While
the president has kept silent on his preferred candidate, the top
contenders, Ahmed Lawan and Mohammed Ali Ndume, claimed they both have
his coveted backing to occupy the nation’s number three position.

Lawan’s
campaign group argues that the position of the ruling All Progressives
Congress (APC) is automatically that of the president. But Ndume’s
supporters disagree, saying Buhari gave his blessing to their candidate
before and after the February 23 presidential and National Assembly
elections.

But Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima yesterday
openly adopted Lawan, urging APC members to demonstrate loyalty and do
the same.He told reporters in Abuja: “I hail from the same state with
the distinguished Senator Ali Ndume and I appreciate the fact that
politics is local, but politics is also national.

“I fully align
the aspiration of my party with the aspiration of President Muhammadu
Buhari. By the grace of God, we are going to mobilise all our goodwill
to see that we are fully on board. We are for Senator Ahmed Lawan. We
are for Femi Gbajabiamila and all other senators and other House of
Representatives members endorsed by the party.” He added: “We are for
party discipline that allows everyone to aspire to political offices. We
believe that we must respect the party. All of us won on platforms.
There is no provision for independent candidates. I don’t know whether
anyone has won on an independent platform.”

This was as a group
of elders from the state expressed fear that some forces were plotting
to hijack the leadership of the ninth National Assembly for selfish
gains. They also warned that this could be counterproductive to policies
of the Buhari presidency.The elders on the platform of Concerned Borno
Citizens made the disclosure in a statement by their spokesman, Alhaji
Yakubu Umar.They said they decided to publicly mobilise support for
Ndume after he confided in them that he discussed with and obtained the
support of the president.

The group cautioned Buhari against
alleged plots to sabotage his second term administration should the
wrong person be elected as Senate President.It urged Buhari to
personally scrutinise Ndume and Lawal to determine who is more loyal,
experienced and qualified. Nduma is the better, having served as
Minority Leader in the House of Representatives and later as Senate
Majority Leader, the group said.

It claimed Ndume was removed as
Senate Leader because he was perceived as too close to the presidency,
and was suspended from plenary for defending Buhari’s policy. It said
Saraki replaced Ndume with Lawan, considered a willing partner, and
under whom the presidency allegedly began to suffer sabotage.

“It
is the responsibility of the Senate Leader to liaise between the Senate
and the president. Perhaps this was not taken seriously under Lawan.
The Senate Leader is the one who markets executive bills to the Senate
and carries out any improvement such bills require to be accepted by the
Senate. This is the function Lawan failed to achieve.”

The
group, which claimed it has the support of former governors, former
ministers and leaders of the APC in Borno State, recalled that the state
gave the APC over 90 per cent of votes in the recent elections.
Meanwhile, a coalition, More Women, has submitted a letter to APC
Chairman Adams Oshiomhole urging party leaders to support Mrs. Nkeiruka
Onyejeocha and Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, who are vying for the positions of
Speaker and Deputy Senate President.

According to the group,
“taking this step will not only position APC as a gender-friendly party,
it will also place Nigeria in the comity of nations committed to gender
equality and women’s participation in power and decision making. It
will set a precedent for other governments across Africa and increase
the gender rating of Nigeria.”The coalition, consisting of over 150
organisations, made this known in a joint statement endorsed by the
executive director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre
(WARDC) and chairperson, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Dr. Abiola
Akiyode-Afolabi; executive director, Women Aid Collectives (WACOL),
Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, and others.

It said: “Onyejeocha is no
doubt a ranking member and has recorded landmark achievements, and
worked tirelessly to advance and institutionalise societal development.
As a federal lawmaker, her attendance and participation at parliamentary
sittings are phenomenal. She has successfully put together and assisted
in the passage of several bills into laws of the federation.”

On
why Tinubu should clinch the position, the coalition said: “She is very
connected to her constituency and holds frequent town hall meetings
with the people, a record which distinguishes her from the pool of
people in the National Assembly. She is a regular, vocal and
distinguished member of the hallowed chamber who hardly misses any
sitting and at different times expressed support for the popular views
of the people in the Senate.

Source:- Guardianng

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