9th Senate presidency: Goje’s entrance alters calculation

The 9th National Assembly’s inauguration is barely a month away. Ahead of the inauguration, Senators-elect and members-elect appea

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9th Senate presidency: Goje’s  entrance alters calculation

The 9th National Assembly’s inauguration is barely a month away. Ahead of the inauguration, Senators-elect and members-elect appear to be making last minute consultations as key political actors continue to jostle for the position of Speaker and the President of the Senate respectively.

Already, Ahmad Lawan, who prides himself as the most suitable for the position of the President of Senate, has the backing of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). His recent pilgrimage to media houses, in company of his constant 19 senators and senators-elect, has been described by political pundits as a last minute attempt to change the media narrative about his candidature.

Former Leader of the Senate, Mohammed Ali Ndume on the other hand appears to be reaching out to lawmakers who are still undecided. He has reached out to almost every senator and senators-elect. Despite series of calls that he should throw in the towel, the Borno South lawmaker appears ready to fight till the end.

In the midst of the uncertainty surrounding the race, a new possible entrant, Danjuma Goje, has now expanded the conversation. For many keen observers, Goje is seen as the biggest threat to Lawan’s emergence as the President of the Senate.

Last weekend, many returning and senators-elect attended his daughter’s wedding in Abuja, an indication that he enjoys their support, an observer noted.

According to insider sources, more senators are expected to throw their weight behind Goje’s candidature. Several meetings are being held to recruit more senators-elect for Goje, ahead of the inauguration of the parliament on the 11th of June.

Although he is yet to officially declare for the position, his supporters have already gone ahead to launch a nationwide campaign on his behalf. 

A group, North Central Alliance, said it would mobilise a 2000-man match to the National Assembly in support of Goje as the next President of the Senate. The group, however, didn’t mention a date for the match, but said it would hold before the election of the next President of the Senate in June. 

Chairman of the group, Nasiru Isiyaku, at a news briefing called on all senators-elect to support Goje for the position. He described Goje as a faithful member of APC family and deserves the party’s support. He said Goje’s credentials were good enough, having been governor for eight years from 2003 to 2011, and having been in the Senate since then.

“The position of the President of the Senate requires administrative and parliamentary knowledge which Goje possesses. Our party, APC, is a party of the people and for us, Senator Danjuma Goje is the right man for the job. He has the required experience as a tested administrator and high ranking lawmaker. 

“He is a man of the people and a senator who has what it takes to carry others across party lines along,” he said.

The chairman of the group further said Goje is a party man to the core and “fits perfectly into the next level agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari”. 

Interestingly, Goje’s candidacy recently received a boost with his endorsement by the North East Consultative Forum (NESF) and five other groups in the geopolitical zone.

Rising from an emergency meeting held in Bauchi, the groups including North East Elders Mobilisation Forum, APC National Youth caucus, Borno Discussion Circle, Gombe Political Associations and North East Youth Awareness for good governance, urged Goje to immediately declare for the position.

The meeting had in attendance persons from the six states that make up the North East geopolitical zone. To this effect, the group has written the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole on their endorsement of Goje.

In the letter, dated April 17 and titled: “North East stakeholders endorse Goje,” the conveners, Mustapha Saidu and Bello Ambo, commended APC for zoning the position to the North East. 

They said the zoning of the position to the geopolitical zone was a confirmation of the party’s commitment to reward hard work, following the zone’s contribution to the party’s victory in the just concluded general election.

“Following very wide consultations among stakeholders, party members and North East Consultative Forum and after careful assessment of his contribution to the party and Muhammadu Buhari- led administration, we hereby present to you, Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje as the choice of the people of the North East for the President of the Senate of the 9th Assembly,” they told Oshiomhole.

Describing Goje as the candidate of the North East, they asked Oshiomhole to immediately review his position on Senator Ahmad Lawan who he had earlier recommended for the position.

“Senator Goje is eminently respected among members of the National Assembly and the country for his immense contribution to the success of the APC in 2015 and 2019 elections respectively.The landslide victory of the APC in Gombe State in the just concluded general election is a sure testimony of his gallantry, loyalty and commitment to APC.

“It will serve the best interest of the party if Your Excellency and the party review your stance on the choice of Lawan and allow for a level playing field for all aspiring candidates from the North East zone to showcase themselves to their colleagues. We therefore urge Goje to come forward and declare his interest to vie for the position of the President of the Senate in the 9th Assembly,” the groups said.

Regardless, on the 11th of June, 109 senators will be sworn in. Currently, the APC has 64 senators-elect. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has 44, while Young Democratic Party (YDP) has one. However, since three of the APC senators are in the race for now, the APC cannot on its own unilaterally decide who will emerges as the President of the Senate, pundits say.

The PDP which is yet to reveal who it will support may eventually decide who takes the day in the end.

But some PDP lawmakers who have spoken to reporters, said they are uncomfortable with the body language of Lawan, who has not openly distanced himself from the position of his party that no PDP senator will be appointed chairman of any committee of the Senate. They said they are not also comfortable with Lawan’s silence on how he wants to run the Senate, beyond keying into President Buhari’s agenda.

“He has not unveiled his blueprint. So he has no plans to change the status quo and introduce something new, “one of the lawmakers said.

“There is another bloc in the incoming Senate- former governors. Currently, the number stands at 16. None has openly identified with any of the candidates, including Lawan, despite his endorsement by the party. It is too early to predict if they will rally support for one of their own, Goje as the inauguration day draws near,” another lawmaker said.