The desire of the All Progressives Congress to go into the elections of a new leadership of the National Assembly as a united house has put on hold threats to the position of Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the ruling party, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
It was learnt that party leaders across geopolitical zones were reaching out to one another on the need to get aggrieved party members to “sheath their swords” in order not to give the opposition room to spring a surprise on the floors of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
A highly placed member of the party leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said, “We are talking to ourselves.”
The party leader further stated, “We all agree that mistakes were made during the primaries leading up to the recently concluded 2019 general elections.
“We also agree that there is a need for us to come together and forge a way forward and that the letter, recently written by one of us, spoke the minds of some and angered some others because it was leaked to the press.
“However, we have National Assembly leadership elections in a little over one week and as a party, we cannot afford to lose these elections. In order to succeed, we must work as a team and present a common front.”
The source added, “The predominant view at the moment is that we cannot afford a distraction which a struggle for a change in the party’s leadership will certainly bring at this time.
“I cannot predict what may follow after the National Assembly leadership election matter is settled because whether you like it or not, we have lost three APC votes from Zamfara in the Senate.”
In a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, on Saturday, however, the APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, said Oshiomhole’s position as national chairman was not under threat.
He said, “Our National Chairman’s position is not under threat. The letter written by our deputy national chairman (North) was a personal opinion which he, like every member of our party, is entitled to. If there was any decision we took as members of the National Working Committee which he was not comfortable with, the best thing for him to have done was to have resigned.
“After he resigns, then he can stand on a sound moral ground to call for another person’s resignation; this will make Nigerians take him seriously.”
In a related development, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, has said his open endorsement by a Peoples Democratic Party Senator-elect, Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North), is a sign of greater things to come.
Lawan, who is the APC’s preferred candidate for the position of Senate President, said this while speaking to reporters in Abuja on Saturday.
While expressing appreciation for the endorsement, he said his campaign team would, within the next couple of days, hold further engagements with the PDP caucus among Senators-elect with a view to reaching an understanding.
He said, “We are expecting the PDP Senators-elect, all of them, to have an understanding with us and endorse me as a caucus.
“Let me pay tribute, first, to Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Yes Peoples Party. He identified with our aspirations the first day the idea of running for this office was muted and he has been with us. We have been campaigning together; sometimes he goes along to campaign to spread our vision for the 9th National Assembly.”
Speaking specifically about Nwaoboshi’s endorsement, he described it as a move borne out of a patriotic heart.
He said, “Nigerians don’t care about what platform you represent in the Senate. What they care about will be what the 9th Senate is able to do to better their lives. What Nigerians care for is an improvement in the security of their lives and property.
“What Nigerians care for is how the economy will be improved and revitalised so that it is an all-inclusive economy; an economy that will work for those at the lowest level of the ladder and those at the highest level, those who will create the business and those who need to be employed.”
The Senate Leader further explained that at various times, as a member of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, he had cause to support and campaign for Aminu Masari (now Katsina State governor) to become Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator David Mark for Senate President.
This, he said, was not without prejudice to the fact that both men were members of the PDP.
He said, “In 2007 when I came to the Senate, I campaigned for Senator David Mark even though I was not in the PDP, (but) because I saw him as a distinguished man that will give us the kind of leadership we needed at that time.
“That would give us a sense of purpose, a direction and a focus as a Senate to perform; we did that again in 2011. Of course, then he was unopposed. It was in 2007 that there were rigorous campaigns and the elections were held transparently for everyone to see.” (Punch)
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