Ninth Assembly leadership: Senators divided over use of 8th Assembly Rule Book, secret ballot

•PDP lawmakers turn beautiful brides •APC zoning delay causing ripples in Reps

THE delay in unveiling details of the zoning formula to be adopted for the 9th National Assembly is causing ripples among senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect from the different geopolitical zones.

Sources in the APC confirmed to Sunday Tribune that the senators and members-elect are also battling over the particular Rule Book to be adopted for the conduct of the elections of the Senate President and his Deputy during the inauguration of Senate in June.

It was gathered that many of the incoming lawmakers are already agitating over the particular Rule Book to be used for inauguration of the 9th senate.

The Rule Book of the 8th Senate was the source of squabbles between the loyalists of Senate President Bukola Saraki under the aegis of Like Mind Senators (LMS) and The Senate Unity Forum (SUF) led by Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan at the start of the 8th Senate.

The SUF, had moved to enforce the decisions of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), especially its recommendations for leadership positions in the 8th Senate.

Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, however, emerged against the wishes of the APC, leading to a fierce battle between the Like Minds Senators and the Senate Unity Forum.

The SUF thereafter alleged that the Rule Book of the 8th Senate was forged, leading to a legal battle at the Federal High Court, which eventually got withdrawn.

But investigations by Sunday Tribune revealed that in the build-up to the 9th Senate, a division had arisen over which of the Rule Books to be adopted for the 9th Assembly.

It was gathered that there is now a sharp division between elected senators on the platform of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

While a number of APC senators are claiming that the Rule Book of the 8th Senate should be set aside in view of the controversy that dogged its introduction, Senators of the PDP are of the view that the Rule Book of the 8th Senate has to be used since it was adopted by the outgoing Assembly.

Sources said that at the end of the controversy “is the allegation that the PDP lawmakers are seeking to influence the emergence of the next presiding officers through the back door.”

According to sources, the conspiracy theories are already fuelling insinuations that some PDP senators-elects are orchestrating a two-pronged plan to wrestle the leadership of the National Assembly from APC through the use of the secret voting pattern.

The Senate Rule Book 2015 (as amended), otherwise known as the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) recognised secret ballot system for the election of Senate President and the Deputy Senate President.

In the earlier Senate sessions up to 2007, the Rule Books were silent on secret ballot.

In those years, the senators were usually called to answer their “fathers’ names.”

It was gathered that the two camps are already setting “political landmines” on the path of APC lawmakers, especially if more than two APC senators should contest the Senate presidency.

Sources also said that the PDP lawmakers “are already turning beautiful brides in the process leading to the inauguration of the new Assembly,” as contestants in both chambers are falling over themselves to win their support.

Sources also said that the delay in announcing the totality of zoning formula for the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 9th Assembly is causing further ripples among the new lawmakers.

As it is, the APC is yet to announce zoning arrangements for the House of Representatives positions, as well as other leadership positions in the Senate.

At least, four geopolitical zones are at loggerheads over positions in the Senate and the House: the North-West, South-West, South-South and South-East are hoping to secure the Deputy Senate President seat, while the North-Central is battling the South-West to clinch the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives.

It was gathered that the delay is also fuelling geopolitical enmity and could truncate any zoning formula if it eventually gets announced late in the day.

At least 15 members of the House of Representatives have declared their intention to contest the speakership of the 9th Assembly, with the key zones being the South-West and the North-Central.

Investigations further revealed that as the June date approaches, the agitation might increase, thereby opening the way further to PDP lawmakers.

In 2015, the delay in formally announcing zoning arrangements for the APC led to the fierce contest between Senate President Saraki and the Senate Leader, Lawan.

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