The presidency on Sunday said President Muhammadu Buhari will not interfere in the bid by some lawmakers to challenge the zoning formula of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on the leadership positions of the 9th National Assembly.
Already the APC has settled for the duo of Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) and Femi Gbajabiamila (Surulere 1) as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, for the 9th National Assembly.
However, the positions are being challenged by some lawmakers who described the party’s position as imposition and an attempt to meddle in the leadership selection process of the National Assembly.
In the Senate, Ali Ndume (Borno South) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) have indicated interest to contest for the exalted position, though Goje is yet to formally declare his ambition despite mounting pressure from his loyalists.
In the House of Reps, Idris Ahmed Wase (APC, Plateau), John Dyegh (APC, Benue), Mohammed Umar Bago (APC, Niger) and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC-Abia) are angling to succeed Speaker Yakubu Dogara against the party’s directive.
In a bid to avoid the events of 2015 where the candidates adopted by the party lost, many had thought President Buhari as the leader of the party will call the gladiators together and speak with them on the need to respect the position of the party.
However, speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, Ita Enang, Senior Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters (Senate), said President Buhari will not intervene in the matter as he has devolved powers to the party.
According to Enang, there is no cause for alarm over the leadership positions in the 9th Assembly as the APC is handling the situation well while majority of the lawmakers have promised to abide by the position of the party.
“The president is the leader of the party and the party is handling the situation. The president does not have to speak on every matter. He devolves power which he has done in this case.
“He does not give the power to the party because the power belongs to the party, he is just the leader of the party. So, the party of which he is the leader chaired by the national chairman is handling the situation and is on top of it. The members themselves, both senators and Reps members are very serious stakeholders at the highest level. So, we are relating with them and they have given assurances that they will respect the party’s position”, he said.
However, speaking to our correspondent, a top source in the party said there are attempts by some power brokers in the presidency to whittle the influence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, one of the national leaders of the party, who is being speculated to be nursing the ambition of succeeding Buhari in 2023.
According to him, many people believe that after having his protégé, Yemi Osinbajo as the vice president, it will be dangerous for Tinubu to also have his loyalists as the number three and four man in the incoming political dispensation.
“Yes, the party had settled for Lawan and Gbajabiamila but from feelers we are getting, a lot of people in the presidency and APC are not really keen about this. These people are the ones giving hidden support to the likes of Goje and Ndume. They felt with Lawan and Gbajabiamila, Tinubu will be too influential and they don’t want that.
“I believe the issue at stake goes beyond Tinubu or his presidential ambition, if truly he has. 2023 is still far ahead. We need to deal with the present situation which is to have a National Assembly which will be in synergy with the executive arm of government in taking the country to the Next Level. We have traveled this rough, thorny road before and we all came out bruised”, he said.