With the All Progressives Congress (APC) unsuccessful in its last-minute moves to avoid a contest, the senate president and speaker of the house of representatives will be decided by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP, which lost control of both houses for the first time since 1999, has officially adopted Bukola Saraki for senate president and Yakubu Dogara for speaker – in opposite direction of APC’s choices.
Olisa Metuh, the PDP national publicity secretary, issued a statement early Tuesday morning announcing Saraki and Dogara as the candidates endorsed by the party. Both are former members of the party.
The APC leadership had at the weekend held a “straw poll” to pick candidates for the 8th national assembly which will be inaugurated on Tuesday.
Ahmad Lawan was the winner of the senate straw poll, but with only 32 senators-elect backing him in the open ballot, he cannot feel at ease in the secret ballot on the floor of the senate. APC has 59 senators while PDP has 49, bringing the total to 108. Ahmed Zanna, who would have been the 60th APC senator, died in May.
Saraki, who rejected the outcome, is claiming to have 65 senators in his camp, which would be more than enough to install him as senate president. He is banking on the support of APC senators who migrated with him from the PDP before the general election, as well as the PDP senators.
APC is officially backing Lawan, who has also been marketed as the choice of President Muhammadu Buhari, even though Buhari has openly declared a disinterest in the process. But the senators from Buhari’s home state, Katsina, are with Lawan, who is also being supported by Bola Tinubu, a national leader of APC.
Tinubu initially backed George Akume, who has now settled for the deputy senate president slot apparently to pave the way for Tinubu’s candidate for speakership, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a give-and-take deal.
Gbajabiamila won the straw poll for speakership. If all 153 APC reps repeat their votes for him, he will need only 27 of PDP’s 147 reps to clinch the nation’s No. 4 position.
Dogara also fancies his chances. He was a member of PDP until the mass defection of 2014, and is banking on the PDP reps to do him a favour. He is also believed to be enjoying the support of former speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who still has his loyalists among the old APC guard.
From every indication, however, PDP will decide the leaders of the APC-dominated national assembly.
Senate President: Meet the Gladiators
Abubakar Bukola Saraki
|Date of Birth||December 19, 1962|
|Legislative Experience||Senate (since 2011)|
|Social Media||97k facebook likes; 194k twitter followers|
|Support Base||Claims support of 65 out of 108 senators. Only 55 senators needed to win.|
|Chances||Not backed by the APC hierarchy but relying on the support of the “New PDP” faction in the party as well as the PDP senators. Chances brighter than acknowledged by opponents.|
|Did you know?||His late father, Abubakar Olusola Saraki, was the NPN senate leader in the second republic|
Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan
|Date of Birth||January 12, 1959|
|Legislative Experience||House of representatives (1999-2007); Senate (since 2007)|
|Social Media||1,300 facebook friends; 200 followers on twitter|
|Support Base||APC hierarchy. Already endorsed by 32 senators and needs 23 more to win.|
|Chances||If he is able to break the PDP ranks, he may just nick it. Just.|
|Did you know?||Lawan has a bachelor’s degree in geography, a master’s in remote sensing and a PhD in remote sensing/GIS.|
Speaker: Meet the Gladiators
|Date of Birth||June 25, 1962|
|Legislative Experience||House of representatives (2003)|
|Social Media||32k facebook likes;14.9k twitter followers|
|Support Base||Backed by the APC hierarchy and 154 members, needing only 27 more to hit the 181 threshold.|
|Chances||Bright. Easier to secure 27 more votes from the 147 PDP members if they don’t vote as a bloc.|
|Did you know?||Says he was born after eight years of prayers by his parents who had suffered secondary infertility after having a set of twins.|
|Date of Birth||December 26, 1967|
|Legislative Experience||House of representatives (since 2007)|
|Social Media||3.6k twitter followers|
|Support Base||A former member of PDP, he is backed by many PDP house members and some APC reps.|
|Chances||If the PDP votes as a bloc for him as he has been promised, Dogara could win by a narrow margin.|
|Did you know?||Dogara is a minority Christian from Bauchi state.|