As the 9th Assembly begins sitting today with the election of the principal officers, the nation’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set to tackle the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) by endorsing Ali Ndume for Senate President and Umar Bago as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
According to a press statement signed by the party’s national secretary, Umar Tsauri, in the early hours of Tuesday, the party told the elected legistilators under the party flag, to support the choice of the party to be able enshrine the principle of separation of power in the nation’s polity.
The statement reads: “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after very extensive consultations with critical stakeholders resolves to support Senator Ali Ndume and Hon. Umar Mohammed Bago for Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively, ahead of National Assembly inauguration on Tuesday” .
It said: “the final resolution on Senator Ndume and Hon. Bago was reached at the end of a decisive meeting of members of the National Working Committee, party leaders, state governors as well as senators and members-elect on the platform of the PDP.”
The statement said the decision is in the best interest of the nation, in line with the party’s determination “to deepen democracy, ensure a strong and independent legislature, strict compliance with the principle of separation of powers as well as constitutional checks and balances in the polity.”
“All senators and members-elect on the platform of the PDP are to be guided accordingly.”
Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila are major contenders for the position of Senate President and Speaker respectively having emerged as candidates favoured by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, there are other lawmakers who have insisted on challenging the decision of the party by contesting the election.
In the Senate, Ndume has vowed to run against his party’s preferred choice, while Umar Bago, the main challenger against Mr Gbajabiamila, has also vowed not to back out of the race.
As experienced in 2015, the votes of opposition lawmakers are very crucial in the emergence of presiding officers of the Senate.
It would be recalled that Lawan and Gbajabiamila were the favoured candidates of APC in 2015, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara were able to lobby the PDP lawmakers and eventually won and both of them later decamped to PDP, the opposition party.