SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that more lawmakers were expressing their interests by the day to preside over the chambers and be among the principal offices of the Senate and the House of Representatives. An aide to one of the aspirants in the Senate, who is privy to the discussion in the All Progressives Congress caucus, said the ruling party had zoned the Senate presidency to the North-East and the Speaker of the House as well as the Deputy Senate presidency to the South-West. The source disclosed that three ranking senators wanted to become deputy senate president. According to the source, the leading aspirants in the South-West gunning for the Deputy Senate President seat are Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who is the wife of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, (Lagos Central); a former Senate Majority Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin (Oyo Central) and Senator Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North). The source stated, “The latest from the APC is that there is a zoning arrangement the party wants to implement, which the leaders seem to have agreed on. The North-East will produce the Senate President while the South-West will produce the Speaker. “The South-East and South-South would be included at certain levels. It will be planned the same way it was done in 2015. “Now that the South-West will produce deputy Senate president, the race is now between three ranking members from the geopolitical zone, namely Teslim Folarin, Oluremi Tinubu and Ajayi Boroffice.” Also, a prominent APC member in the House from the North-East, who is part of those backing an aspirant to be speaker, disclosed that they had begun to lobby their colleagues in the chamber. The lawmaker said although it was certain that Dogara would lose the Speaker’s seat, aspirants would not openly declare their bid for the seat until it was close to the end of the Speaker’s tenure. The lawmaker added, “Although the APC might want to go for the old template; within the House, members from the North-East are insisting on having their slot as speaker. So, for the North-East, it is between Abdulrazak Namdas (Adamawa) and Mohammed Monguno (Borno). They are the two main contenders. “For instance, Namdas came from the constituency of the presidential candidate of the PDP, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, and he is the only one who won for the APC in the entire senatorial district Atiku comes from.” When contacted on the aspiration, Namdas neither confirmed nor denied vying for the speaker of the House. “I am eligible to be speaker but it is too early to make a stand because we are still dealing with the governorship and state House of Assembly elections. We will make our positions known as soon as we are back; when we resume,” the Rep added. Monguno could not be reached to confirm being in the race. When contacted on the telephone, his line indicated that it had been switched off. SATURDAY PUNCH had exclusively reported that barely one week after the National Assembly elections were held, several lawmakers, who won, had begun to lobby for leadership positions. The ruling APC, which has retained its majority status according to the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, is said to have already zoned the presiding and principal offices of the chambers to geopolitical zones. Several lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives, who spoke to our correspondents, stated that the APC would soon name its nominees for the leadership of the National Assembly. A source close to the leadership of the House, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the APC was already considering re-presenting its choice candidates in 2015 as leaders of the National Assembly in 2019. The APC, as the ruling party and with the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, had, in 2015, chosen the current Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe, North-East), to be President of the Senate, and the House Majority Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos, South-West), to be the Speaker. However, Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara, North-Central) and Mr Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi, North-East), though APC members then, had formed an alliance with the opposition and minority Peoples Democratic Party to emerge as Senate President and Speaker, respectively. While Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu, South-East) of the PDP was elected Deputy Senate President as part of the deal, Mr Yusuff Lasun (Osun, South-West) of the APC emerged Deputy Speaker, against the wish of the ruling party. However, while Saraki lost his bid to return to the Senate in the election held last Saturday, Dogara won. Speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH on Thursday, the National Assembly source disclosed that Lawan and Gbajabiamila might be nominated by the party again for the leadership of the chambers. When asked if those picked by APC for the positions had fresh chances in the 9th National Assembly, the official said, “By the grace of God.” The source added, “The APC is still going with the 2015 template. The positions that may be in contention will be deputy senate president and deputy speaker. This is due to zoning (of top offices to geopolitical zones) and the characters of 2015 are now different from those of 2019.” Speaking on the majority status of the APC in the 9th Assembly, the official noted that the ruling party was already leading even though not all the results had been declared by the INEC. “So far from our estimates, when the 8th Assembly was inaugurated in 2015, APC had 214 and PDP had 140, while other parties shared the remaining seats. But from the headcount we have done so far, we now have more than the 214,” the source said. According to the official, with more opposition parties winning seats in the chambers, the PDP might be forced to lose principal and committee seats usually zoned to the minority. PUNCH had, on August 18, 2018, exclusively reported that the APC and its Senate caucus were considering no fewer than three senators to replace Saraki for defecting from the ruling party to the PDP. For the replacements, Lawan is from Yobe State in the North-East; Ndume is from Borno State, also in North-East; while Abdullahi Adamu is from Nasarawa State in the North-Central.]]>

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