What looks like a major crack in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators’ fold emerged on Friday with the public declaration of support for Senator Ahmad Lawan’s Senate Presidency aspiration by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.
Senator Nwaoboshi, a former Chairman of PDP in Delta State, represents Delta North Senatorial District in the upper chamber.
He threw his support for Lawan to emerge President of the Ninth Senate at a crowded press briefing in Abuja.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, who is a known backer of Lawan’s aspiration, was at hand to receive Nwaoboshi.
The obviously elated Enang “thanked” Nwaoboshi profusely for his “support” for Lawan Senate Presidential project.
Only last month, a PDP Senator elect, Abba Moro, who represents Senator David Mark’s Benue South Senatorial District, also came out to declare support for Lawan’s Senate Presidency aspiration.
To show his support was for real, Moro did not only declare his support for Lawan, he is also a member of Lawan’s campaign organisation.
Moro said that he was there because he believed in the capacity of Lawan to lead the Ninth Senate.
Nwaoboshi is a known ally and staunch supporter of Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Saraki has not openly declared support for any of the front line contenders for the Senate President of the Ninth Senate.
The implication of Nwaoboshi’s open declaration of support for Lawan is that PDP Senators may not go for block vote during the election of the presiding officers of the Ninth Senate as being taunted in some quarters.
It may also mean that PDP Senators are in disarray especially as more in their fold are said to be warming up to declare support for Lawan ahead of the inauguration of the Ninth Senate this month.
Nwaoboshi noted the leadership of PDP will not direct its elected senators to vote for any particular candidate for the position of the Ninth Senate President.
The Delta North Senator whose victory was revalidated by an Appeal Court judgement on Thursday, said the best the PDP leadership would do was to give the elected members of the incoming Ninth Senate, the direction to follow.
He insisted that the party would not necessarily impose a candidate on its elected members of the National Assembly.
Nwaoboshi said” “The PDP has not taken a decision as a political party as far as the presiding officers of the Ninth Senate is concerned. Our party has not also told us the candidate we should vote for.
“I know the PDP leaders will not say this is the candidate they want. They would only give us a guideline.
“I also have a right as the representative of my people to determine what is good for the Anioma people.
“I am a loyal PDP man. I have not left the PDP and it is not part of my agenda to do.
“However, regarding the leadership of the Ninth Senate, I know my people would be happy with my choice of Lawan.
“My people know what they benefitted from the support that I gave the incumbent Senate President.
“I can make a choice on my people’s behalf because I have lived among them over the years.”
Nwaoboshi added that even if his party, PDP takes a position on the issue of Senate President, as a Senator he has the right to decide who to support for the position.
He noted that most importantly his constituents, Anioma people of Delta State preferred Ahmad Lawan to other Senators-elect eyeing the same position.
Nwaoboshi explained that though he did not support Lawan’s aspiration during the Eight Senate in 2015, realities on ground as far as the 9th Senate is concerned, showed that Lawan is the most qualified having been in the National Assembly as an elected federal lawmaker since 1999.
He said, “All those contesting for the position have approached me for support and as a student of history, I have studied their backgrounds which clearly show that in terms of experience, Lawan is the one with the requisite legislative experience.
“I have found in him, competence and the required intelligence legislatively and politically to steer the ship of leadership of the 9th Senate and by extension, that of the 9th National Assembly.”
The Delta North Senator noted that opposition of many of the PDP Senators to Lawan had been watered down by recent pronouncement by the Deputy National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Lawal Shuaibu that leadership at both chambers cannot be imposed but through consensus across party lines.
On the revalidation of his victory at the poll, Nwaoboshi dismissed insinuations that his challenger at the Appeal Court, Ned Nwoko, would present the Certificate of Return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission to be inaugurated as Senator on June 11 during the inauguration of the Ninth Senate.
He said, “Once the election has been declared and the certificate of return issued to the winner, it is only the highest court in the land that can order the withdrawal of the certificate.
“I have my certificate of return. Nobody has withdrawn it. What was issued to Ned Nwoko was a piece of paper and not a certificate of return. I was the one that contested the election having declared him in the primaries.”