*Ekweremadu may opt for Mark’s strategy
*S/West PDP insists zone keeps slot
*Decamping Melaye’s albatros
By Ezeocha Nzeh
Top shots of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have settled for the position of Senate Minority Leader, removing fears of possible upset during the inauguration of the 9th Senate, against what happened in 2015 when it helped some senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) revolt against the party’s leadership choices.
The AUTHORITY gathered at the weekend that three senators elected on the platform of the PDP have commenced intense lobbying of its members and senators of the APC extraction to pitch their tents with them for the position.
Those who are said to be gunning for the office included the incumbent Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West), Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) and Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central).
Though the PDP leadership has not come up with a position on any preferred candidate for the post, unlike the APC, which has publicly endorsed the current Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan for the position of Senate Presidency, The AUTHORITY learnt that the opposition party may settle for DSP Ekweremadu.
Sources told our reporter that although Senator Dino Melaye was a good choice, Ekweremadu’s consistency in refusing to decamp despite mouth-watering offers by the APC and his display of leadership sagacity during the trying moments of the PDP are not matters PDP leadership would sweep aside.
PDP sources informed that Ekweremadu is seen as the most experienced senator in the fold, not just for being one of the longest serving senators in the country, but has shown that he would not be intimidated by the ruling party, especially with his doggedness even during previous intimidations by the presidency.
But with the display of statesmanship exhibited by former Senate President David Mark, who turned down offers by the PDP, Ekwermadu is said to be likely to tow the same path.
This leaves Senators Dino Melaye and Ayo Akinyelure to offer the best choices for the seat, especially as they have also displayed class even in the face of intimidation by the ruling party.
Melaye is however being hunted by his decamping to the APC when he was denied ticket in the build up to the 2015 general elections. However, his political strength and ability to match down intimidation and threats, remain his apple card.
But, Akinyelure seems not to be a rooky in the game, having reportedly been silently mobilizing support especially among his South-West colleagues, cutting across party lines.
Recently, a South-West PDP group, The Southwest PDP Frontiers (SWPF), had in a statement by its leaders, Asipa Iyanda Adeoye Ogunfojuri and Ameen Adekanye, warned PDP against repeating what it described as “ill-treatment meted out to the zone during the battle for the PDP national chairmanship”.
Insisting they would not take any such, they said they were “speaking out early enough to avoid being told that we kept mute when it mattered, for that was what we were told after the Southwest was disgraced out of the PDP national chairmanship race.
“The position of Minority Leader in the senate is currently being held by the Southwest, and since nothing has changed as regards zoning at the national level, it shouldn’t be taken away from us.
“It is worrisome to see that the body language of many of our leaders suggests the possibility of the position being used to compensate another zone for whatever reason.
“The Southwest will no longer agree to be sacrificed within the opposition party, more so when we have eminently qualified persons that can serve in the said capacity,” the group said in the statement.