Few hours to the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, vote buying has taken the centre stage in both camps of the lawmakers seeking elective positions.
While Senators Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe) and Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) are slugging it out for the position of the President of the Senate, Francis Alimikhena (Edo) Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia) and Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta) are in a hot chase for the position of the Deputy President of the Senate.
Recall Lawan was endorsed by the presidency and the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC), while Ndume vowed never to step down but contest even though the party had endorsed Lawan.
Lawan had last weekend said that he has the backing of 60 APC members, 38 People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members and one Young Democratic Party (YDP) member, making 99 senators out of the 107 senators that will vote today.
It was, however, learnt that the lawmakers contesting for elective positions are spending heavily to lobby to win the support of members. It was also learnt that in a bid to outdo themselves, thousands of dollars have exchanged hands just to woo members for support.
Despite the endorsement of Lawan, Omo-Agege, Femi Gbajabiamila his Deputy, Gaya, Alimikhena and Orji have vowed never to step down, even when the leadership of APC has taken position.
Alimikhena had on Sunday said that he’s still in the race and has not stepped down for anybody, Gaya while speaking with newsmen yesterday said that he would contest the election today.
He boasted that despite the endorsement of Senator Omo-Agege by the APC leadership, his chances of emerging as DSP was very bright, adding, “this is not my first time of contesting an election. Tomorrow will make it the fourth time and by the grace of God, it will be peaceful.
“I’m still in the race. I will contest with whoever that would also contest the position of the DSP tomorrow. Democracy is actually a game of number. Whoever has the highest number would win.”
Boroffice, who withdrew from the race in deference to President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, appreciated the senators-elect for their support and also thanking them for their warm embrace and a great display of camaraderie.
Boroffice, in a statement by his Press Secretary, Kayode Fakuyi, also appreciated the people of Ondo North senatorial district and friends across the country for their prayers, support and goodwill messages.
“For the far-reaching endorsements, steadfastness and unflinching support, gratitude goes to all concerned political groups across the country especially, the Women for Buhari and Osinbajo group, and the Ondo APC Youth League,” he said.
Orji on his part disclosed that President Buhari had not adopted any candidate. This is contrary to speculations in some quarters that the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, after wide consultations with the President and other stakeholders of the party, had formally endorsed Senator Omo-Agege as the party’s candidate for the position of Deputy Senate President in the 9th National Assembly.
The former governor of Abia state, who said that he has withdrawn from the contest, added that “I hold the President in high esteem as well as the National Chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other members of the NWC and as such, I will not disobey any formal pronouncement by them.
“However, I am still in the race to become Deputy Senate President because the President and the NWC have not adopted any candidate and as such the contest is open to all members of the party, who have the capability.
“I have the political dexterity, leadership qualities and goodwill to complement the efforts of the Senate President in actualizing the objectives of the legislature in support the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in taking Nigeria to greater heights.
“Leadership positions in the 9th Senate should be given to people who have the will to support the agenda of the APC while not deviating from the ideals of democracy.
“As I continue to mobilize support for the position of Deputy Senate President, I commend the President, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other stakeholders of the party for their support.
“Come tomorrow (today) by the special grace of God and to the admiration of APC members and Nigerians at large, I will emerge as Deputy Senate President in the 9th national assembly.”
Meanwhile, the PDP governors last night met to finally take a position on who the party will support.
The meeting, which was held at Bayelsa state governor’s lodge in Abuja, it was learnt was for the governors, under the platform of PDP Governors’ Forum to take their position.
It was also that the PDP senators-elect are having a crucial meeting with the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike to impress it upon the senators, which direction to take and who to vote for during the election.
A source told newsmen that Ekweremadu invited the elected lawmakers for a meeting with Wike and thereafter a final meeting of the forum will meet at Ekweremadu’s residence.