*APC Senators block PDP’s choice of Ndume, Ekweremadu ticket
*As Lawan, Gbajabiamila emerge SP, Speaker
By Ignatius Okorocha and Cosmas Ekpunobi
The election of Senator Ahmad La¬wan (Yobe) as the president of the 9th Senate and Ovie Omo – Agege as his deputy, may have given the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) a firm grip of the Senate, thereby foiling what looked like a plot by the opposition Peoples Dem¬ocratic Party (PDP) to foist an Ali Ndume, Ekweremadu combination on the Senate.
The plot by PDP was said to have been hatched and perfected at Monday’s it’s governors meeting with party leaders and Senators – elect, where the party en¬dorsed Sen. Ali Ndume as its candidate for Senate president, but maintained ab¬solute silence on the deputy senate pres¬ident position.
The election of senator Ahmad Lawan(Yobe) as the president of the 9th senate and Ovie Omo – Agege as his deputy, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is now in firm grip of the senate, thereby foiling plots by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to foist an Ali Ndume, Ekweremadu combination on the senate.
The plot by PDP was said to have been hatched and perfected at Monday’s governors meeting with party leaders and Senators – elect, where the party endorsed Senator Ali Ndume as its candidate for the Senate president, but maintained absolute silence on the deputy senate president position.
The APC preferred candidate (Dr Lawan ) in a keenly contested election presided over by the Clark of the National Assembly, Sani Omolori, polled a total of 79 votes to bury the long political dream of his kinsman, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno), who scored 28 votes.
The election of the presiding officers of the senate may have put to rest the long fierce battle for the political soul of the nations apex lawmaking organ. Though the victory was a tough one, the important thing was that the APC finally had its way this time around as two of her preferred candidates sailed through the big political hurdle in a tension soaked red chamber yesterday.
The party and indeed the sponsors of the two presiding officers have every reason to roll out the red carpet in celebration as the last minute move to rekindle the 2015 political drama failed on the floor of the senate yesterday . It was indeed APC day on the floor as the party loyalists foiled last minute alliance between the opposition senators and some members of the ruling party to nail the party’s choice for the second time.
A Source claimed that the last minute deal to push for Ndume and Ekweremadu ticket filtered into the chamber few minutes to the election. The source noted that the APC would have been embarrassed again but for the prompt intervention of Lawan’s supporters .
The opposition PDP was alleged to have pledged bloc votes of about 44 senators for Ndume, and part of the deal was for Ndume to convince over 24 senators of APC extraction to vote for Ekweremadu in return.
However, Ndume scored 28 votes, suggesting that not all the PDP senators voted for him. . Even the 24 senators he claimed to have signed in for him did not all vote for him. What happened is today history.
The business of the day commenced the moment the clerk of the National Assembly walked into the red chamber at about 10.15 am armed with a letter from President Mohammadu Buhari proclaiming the 9th senate. And having done that, the next business of the day was to elect the presiding officers of the senate.
The Clerk, who doubled yesterday as the returning officer was quick to call for nomination of senators elect (as they were called before inauguration yesterday) for the office of the president of the senate.
The Senator Yahaya Abdulahi (Kebbi) nominated Senator Ahmad Lawan, and the nomination was seconded by Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilakan (Lagos). The Clerk again called for another nomination. And to do that was the youngest senator of the 9th senate senator Ishaku Abo (Adamawa (APC) . He was quickly seconded by River state born senator Mpigi Barinada .
And with the two nominations for the number three job in the land, the stage was set for the big contest. Interestingly the two nominees had those who nominated them as their agent for the election. And by 1.23 pm, the exercise was over and Omolori announced Senator Lawan winner with 79 votes . Lawan was immediately sworn in as the president of the 9th Senate. Ndume scored only 28 votes.
But to conclude the business of the day , the Clark of the National Assembly invited nomination for the office of the deputy senate president. Senator Ovie Omo -Agege was nominated and seconded by Abdulahi Sabi (Niger) . Members were however stunned when the Clark called for another nomination and second term senator Chukwuma Utazi (Enugu PDP) nominated the immediate past deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, for the job.
The nomination was seconded by Senator Rose Okoh (Cross River). The nomination of Ekweremadu and his immediate acceptance for the nomination came rather as a surprise to many of the senators. Not many of them were in the know of the last minute decision by the fifth term Enugu state born senator to contest for this same job for the fourth time . All eyes were on him on the floor the moment he was invited by the Clark to give acceptance speech.
Senator Ekweremadu told his stunned colleagues that he was in the race to win and to preserve the sanctity of the red chamber which he said was desecrated last year . Apparently referring to the snatching of the Mace (Senae symbol), on the floor of the senate last year .Ekweremadu was short of accusing Omo Agege of masterminding the ugly incident as he asked his colleagues to vote according to their conscience and always remember the snatching of the mace. Senator Utazi also made reference to the snatching of mace.
Some senators however believed that the mace snatching was midwives by one of them and yesterday should have been a payback time for the suspect .
Sources alleged that the deal to draft Ekweremadu into the race was hatched Monday, during a last minute meeting between PDP governors and their senators – elect. It was also alleged that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, facilitated the said meeting. The deal was for Ekwremadu to run with Ndume. PDP at the said meeting directed its members to vote for senator Ndume and Ekweremadu,
Though they made public their choice of Ndume as the party’s preferred candidate for the senate presidency, they maintained absolute silence of the party’s position on deputy senate president, using it as a game plan to actualize the party’s plot for another coup, though it failed this time around as most APC senators followed the directives of the party in their voting pattern, to avoid a repeat of the 2015 incident that brought in the Saraki and Ekweremadu ticket that almost rocked the 8th senate