More information has come to light regarding President Bola Tinubu’s support of Senator Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, for the position of senate president.
One of our journalists was informed on Saturday by sources close to the president that the agreement to elect Akpabio as senate president had been reached the day before the APC’s primary election.
Tinubu, Akpabio, and other candidates participated in the primary, which took place in Abuja between June 6 and June 8, 2022, in Eagles Square.
A day before the primary, Asiwaju (Tinubu) met with Akpabio and asked him to resign on his behalf. Since Akpabio would be the first candidate invited to the podium to speak, Tinubu claimed that if the former governor agreed, it would send a positive message to the audience and other contenders.
Akpabio agreed, but said he needed to know what would be his “gain” since he had quit as a minister and wasn’t running for senator, according to the source, who didn’t want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the subject.
Asiwaju (Tinubu) gave him the assurance that he would have support in becoming the Senate President. A powerful woman (name withheld) entered as they were talking. That sealed the deal, according to a different source.
On the day of the primary, Akpabio reportedly visited with Ahmad Lawan, the departing president of the Senate, to solicit his support.
According to reports, Lawan allegedly informed the former minister that he had been chosen to represent the party and the “northern caucus” as their candidate.
However, Akpabio claimed he had already spoken to Tinubu and would be unable to support Lawan’s ambition, according to one of the sources.
Other trustworthy individuals with direct knowledge of the situation told Sunday PUNCH that Lawan had not forgotten Akpabio’s purported snub of him and that as a result, Lawan had accused Akpabio of “bringing the senate into disrepute while serving as the minister in charge of the Niger Delta Ministry.”
When Akpabio, the Niger Delta Minister, announced in July 2020 that some contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission had been granted to federal lawmakers, the head of the investigation team nearly begged him not to.
Prior to the 10th National Assembly’s June 13 inauguration, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of planning to harass and detain lawmakers-elect who were viewed as advocating the independence of the legislature.
Having boasted that it will use the number of MPs elected on the platforms of opposition parties to select the leadership of both chambers, the party made this statement only 24 hours later.
Senator Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State and a leading candidate for the Senate presidency, is rumored to be one of those wanted for arrest.
Yari had gone to the Federal High Court in Abuja to request a court injunction barring the arrest of him by security forces. Prior to the hearing and decision on a move on notice, the court on Monday prohibited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offenses Commission, and the Department of State Services from detaining the former governor.
Yari, who had bragged that he had the support of over 65 senators, had declined to endorse Akpabio, who had been named the preferred candidate of the President and the ruling party.
Addressing journalists at the party’s national secretariat on Saturday, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba said, “Information at our disposal which is verifiable and some of which we got from reports, is that there are attempts by some APC elements to intimidate, harass and threaten lawmakers-elect with a view to influencing the outcome of the election on Tuesday on the floor of both chambers as to who emerges the Speaker and the President of the Senate.
There have been allegations of intimidation against those who are prominent advocates for the legislature’s independence and who are at the forefront of the need to uphold standing rules stipulating that members-elect should choose their leadership independently of outside influence.
“These claimed measures and plans to apprehend such people exist. We, as a party that supports democracy and had the honor of serving as its “midwife” for 16 years, acknowledge that the legislature is a component that is crucial to the maintenance of democracy. Therefore, we must sound the alarm.