2023 Presidency: Crack in Senate over moves to pick Lawan as consensus candidate
A sharp crack has been created in the Senate caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the quest to endorse the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan as the consensus presidential candidate of the parliament.
Lawan, who has been at the National Assembly since 1999, is set to formally declare for the presidency this week, multiple sources around him confirmed.
But the Senate president told journalists that only God will determine his next step when asked about plans by some powerful forces in the North to support him for the presidency.
First elected into the House of Representatives in 1999, Lawan crossed over to the Senate in 2007 and since then he has remained in the Red Chamber.
Daily Trust gathered that ahead of the Yobe-born-lawmaker’s declaration, there were plans to declare him as the consensus candidate of the Senate.
It was gathered that the endorsement was being promoted by some of his allies in the parliament including Senator Yusuf Yusuf (APC, Taraba), Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) and a former lawmaker, Senator Abdullahi Gumel.
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The push for the endorsement, which started before the Senators’ Sallah recess has polarised the parliament, which is made of 71 APC, 37 PDP and one YPP member.
The Senators had last week embarked on a recess to enable them to celebrate this Eid-el-Fitr. They are to resume on Tuesday, May 10.
If he declares, Lawan will join the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole (Ogun), Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (Lagos) and the chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) to slug it out for the APC presidential primaries.
Other aspirants eyeing the APC ticket include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi ), Dr Chris Ngige (Anambra), Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba (Imo), Senator Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ihechukwu Dallas Chima (Abia), Usman Iwu (Imo), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim (Kwara), Mr Tein Jack-Rich (Rivers), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Adamu Garba II (Adamawa)
The ruling party had fixed its primaries for May 30 and June 1, where its flag bearer for the presidency would be elected.
Crack in APC caucus
It was gathered that moves to endorse Lawan have created a crack in the APC caucus in the Upper Chamber.
Daily Trust reports that many lawmakers have since pitched tents with other aspirants. For instance, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno), is leading the campaign for Amaechi, Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno) is playing a leading role in Tinubu’s campaign, while Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano) is in charge of the campaigns of the vice president.
Aside from these three, there are other lawmakers who are involved in the campaigns of other aspirants, thus the moves to present Lawan as the consensus candidate has been hanging in the balance.
In a phone interview, Senator Ali Ndume said he has not been contacted by those promoting Lawan’s candidature, saying “They have not come because they know my position.
“I have nothing against Ahmad Lawan; he is my colleague but I have everything against injustice. I won’t support even my biological brother. Fielding a northerner is tantamount to injustice and tantamount to a third term. The so-called northern elders that are pushing it are doing so to perpetuate injustice.
“It’s the turn of the South and we have to support them to actualise this. I’m disappointed with those that are pushing this. I had since taken position even before my alignment with Amaechi,” he said.
Another lawmaker, while puncturing the claims that Lawan is under intense pressure to join the race for the presidency, said the project was “The brainchild of Lawan and his few allies.
“It is untrue that he is being pushed by northern elders. He is pushing himself; otherwise, tell them to mention the northern elders. Who are they?
“It is purely his aspiration and nobody is pushing him, rather he is pushing people to key into the project. They are planning to present him as the Senate consensus candidate and we are going to outrightly and publicly resist being railroaded into this failed project,” the lawmaker said.
But a lawmaker in Lawan’s camp insisted that the Senate president was being pressured to join the race by northern elders.
Asked to mention some of the northern elders pushing the Senate President, he said, “It is not for public consumption. I’m one of them. Am I not an elder at over 70 and I have been in politics for over four decades?”
Another lawmaker in the Senate president’s camp said “Lawan is one of us and we will do all possible within our reach to support him. He is one of us.”
Lawan to pick forms tomorrow – Aide
Contacted, one of the aides of the Senate president told our correspondent that arrangements have been concluded for the declaration of his boss.
“All things being equal, he would pick the expression of interest and nomination forms tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with a northerner to be aspiring to succeed President Buhari. The president would be happy to have ahead of one of the arms of government succeed him.
“Let all the aspirants come out to test their popularity. What we all know is that Lawan is capable, experienced, and can turn around the fortunes of the country positively. He is the candidate to beat,” he said.
God will determine my next step, says Lawan
While responding to his reported entry into the presidential race, Senator Lawan told State House reporters after joining other residents of the FCT on Sallah homage to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that God will determine his next step.
Asked to speak on the plans, he said: “I thought you were going to ask me about what we want to do in 2022. We passed the budget for 2022, a budget for consolidation of what we have been able to achieve in 2020 when we had an implementation of 100%.
“2022 has just finished, another 100% implementation of the budget and we’re looking forward to ensuring that the 2022 budget is also implemented by 100%.
“If we stabilize our economy, we stabilize our country, then people can contest, but for now everything is speculative and I believe that God, in His infinite mercy, will show us the way.”
But some political pundits said as a politician, Lawan simply dribbled his way and dodged the question which did not mean that he was not interested.
The Yobe-born politician, who said people would have a place to contest elections when the economy and country were stabilised, called on citizens to shun partisanship and work towards making the country better organised.
Lawan, who said the country would have been in a better condition by now but for two recessions and the Covid-19 pandemic, stated: “Today, we are happy to say that we’re still making progress, but would have done far better if we hadn’t had the COVID interruption.
“So, I believe that as a nation, we are moving in the right direction and President Muhammadu Buhari is giving us the leadership that we need and all that we need to do is to continue to support our leaders, continue to support our government and it’s in the best interest of everyone.
“Let no politics, let no partisanship, let no sentiments derail any of our programmes and projects because you need to have a Nigeria first if you are running to take over government at whatever level. You need to have a country, you need to have a stable country, you need to have a peaceful country in the first place and if you do that, you can contest, for example. But as individuals, we have a date with history.
“How much do we give to our nation? How much do we sacrifice for the sake of others in our communities and in our country? That determines a lot how far we can go because if we decide to be selfish, then I’m sorry, we may not make that kind of progress that we believe can take us to the Eldorado,” he said.