9th Assembly: Horse trading begins as Lawan, Senate contender strike deal

•APC, Lawan plan emergence of sole candidate from North East •Speakership contest takes new dimension as North Central plans sole candidate

THE contest for the Senate Presidency of the ninth Senate appears to be taking a two-horse race shape at the weekend, following indications that the camp of Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan and one of his contenders for the post met to explore some working agreement.

It was learnt that if the agreement sails through, only two contenders would be left in the race from the North-East, barring any last-minute intervention by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress.

A source in the know said that if the leadership of the APC intervenes in the race as planned, the other challenger of Senator Lawan might be asked to step down and given another of the top positions in the Senate.

Some of the key positions the APC could negotiate with include the Majority Leader, the Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Services Committee.

Sources in the polity confirmed that the duo of Lawan and his other challenger from the North-East met on Friday in a bid to fan out a form of memorandum of understanding which will lead to the withdrawal of the candidacy of the other lawmaker.

The source said that once that sails through the contender can then be considered for one of the top committees, possibly Appropriations.

It was also gathered that having realised its initial mistake, the leadership of the APC was contemplating reaching out to the duo of Senators Danjuma Goje and Ali Ndume, who have announced their intention to challenge the partys anointed candidate, Senator Ahmad Lawan.

The meeting, which is being planned to take place before the end of April, will also coincide with the conclusion of ongoing state-by-state consultation with lawmakers-elect embarked upon by Senator Lawan.

A source in the APC said: The party leaders are not talking conciliation and consultation. They have been able to realise that the lawmakers cannot be forced to support a particular candidate.

“They needed to be made to understand the need to support the person, who clearly merits the position. It was the failure of tact that caused the resistance we have seen.

“Right now, our party has 12 positions in the two chambers of the Assembly to deal with. The twelve will go round the six geopolitical zones and so it doesn’t look like we have to haggle over this for too long. We now have a clear picture and we have resolved to meet with all aggrieved lawmakers, quietly.”

The ongoing horse-trading between the campaign team of Senator Ahmad Lawan and one of the aspirants from North-East might also pave the way for the emergence of a sole candidate in the Senate, a source sated ,

The source said the camp of Senator Lawan would not rest until it successfully markets the Senate leader to become the next Senate President.

It was gathered that the discussions between Lawan and the said North-East aspirant were described as “initial interactions  which could see the two camps come up with a memorandum of understanding that would be communicated to all Senators-elects.”

Sources said it within the next few weeks an agreement is expected to be reached and publicly announced.

It was also learnt that the leadership of the APC has been briefed about the development.

In the House of Representatives, contestants for the post of Speaker, especially those from the North-Central, were said to have concluded on a meeting to be held during the week, which would kick-start the search for a sole candidate to fly the flag of the one.

A form of a shadow election might hold in Abuja among lawmakers from the zone, a source said, adding that the lawmakers from the area are planning seriously to upstage the South-West in the race for the nation’s number four position.

“The zone has realised that throwing two or three aspirants into the race could come with disadvantages and that a common candidate has to be worked out,” one of the campaigners said.

In another development, a group, Society for Grassroots Political Participation, said at a roundtable that the APC should adopt “international best practices” in determining who gets what in the incoming assembly.

The group said that adherence to internationally recognised best practices in the processes for the emergence of the leadership of the legislature would save the nation of any threat of opposition as witnessed in the outgoing eighth National Assembly.

The group, in a communiqué signed by Executive Secretary, Sewaola Johnson and the External Communication Officer, Musbau Alade, urged lawmakers-elect to “ensure that the foundation blocks on which other programme and activities of the legislature are cemented by proven parliamentary experience.