Battle for deputy begins as Goje steps down for Lawan

WITH Sen. Danjuma Goje’s withdrawal yesterday from the race for Senate president, the coast seems clear for Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan to get the trophy.

Five Senators-elect from the All Progressives Congress (APC) are jostling for Deputy Senate President.

They are: Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta); former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Sen. Francis Alimikhena (Edo); Sen. Ajayi Borrofice (Ondo); and Sen. Kabiru Gaya (Kano).

Although the odds favoured Omo-Agege last night, some APC senators are afraid of likely cracks in the party’s caucus if the contest is not well managed.

PDP senators are said to be ganging up against Omo-Agege as the party plots to retain the seat in the manner in which the former Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, was elected in 2015.

But the APC Caucus yesterday raised a 20-man delegation to meet with National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, for the party’s position and direction on deputy Senate president.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said the APC senators-elect were neck-deep in permutations last night on who to pick for Deputy Senate President.

The source said: “We are really overwhelmed by the competition for deputy president of the Senate. We all belong to the same family, but we have not been able to agree on any of the five candidates

”The race actually is between Omo-Agege and four others because the Delta senator has been highly committed to the party’s directive. There is also pressure to concede the slot to the Southsouth in line with the unwritten zoning formula of the party.

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“A few of our colleagues from the Northwest have now ganged up to ask for the office, but some of the senators-elect are opposed to the agitation for the slot by Gaya, who is from the Northwest with President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The same factor is being advanced against Borrofice, having come from the Southwest with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The same zone aspires for Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Some Senators also claimed that since the National Chairman is from Edo State, it will be difficult for the deputy Senate president’s slot to be ceded to the state for Alimikhena.”

“Kalu’s major constraint is the southeast’s disdain for APC during the last general elections. The Southsouth delivered more votes to APC than the Southeast.

“Yet, we are trying to be tactical in order not to cause division among ourselves ahead of our inauguration on Tuesday,” the source said.

A ranking senator, however, said the APC Caucus in the coming Ninth Senate could not untie the knot and it has decided to send a 20-man delegation to Oshiomhole.

“We mandated the delegation to mount pressure on the party to take a decision on who to pick as the deputy president of the Senate.

“This may require Oshiomhole also consulting with the President and other national leaders of the party.

“We do not want cracks in our fold at all. We need direction, we want guidance and we deserve to have consensus before going to the field.

“If there is no presidential intervention, Lawan may not have a team to work with because the voting pattern may change for other offices,” the senator added.

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As at press time, it was gathered that PDP was planning to stop Omo-Agege from becoming deputy president of the Senate.

The opposition party is yet to forgive Omo-Agege over the mace crisis in the Eighth Senate.

A PDP senator said: “While we have accepted Lawan, we will not allow Omo-Agege to lead us as deputy Senate president, unless APC speaks with one voice. A committee of the Senate indicted him but he went to court. We will have our say, APC may have its way, if this is what they have chosen.

“But from inter-party negotiation so far, the choice of deputy Senate president can either come from APC or PDP. We are working on what the late Chief K.O Mbadiwe called ‘accord concordiale’. Definitely, the two parties have drawn the battle line for the deputy Senate president.

“So far, some APC senators-elect are on the same page with the opposition PDP. Just wait and see what will happen on Tuesday.”

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