Senator Danjuma Goje’s decision to withdraw from the Senate presidency race to back his All Progressives Congress colleague, Senator Ahmed Lawan, has allegedly caused division among the Peoples Democratic Party senators-elect.
Goje and Lawan were in the race alongside their APC colleague, Ali Ndume, but Goje decided to endorse Lawan after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Investigations by our correspondents revealed that the majority of the PDP lawmakers-elect in the Red Chamber had been pushing for Goje’s adoption by the PDP for the position before the former Gombe State governor announced his withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the PDP is expected to decide whether their 44 members-elect to the 9th Senate should cast their votes for one candidate or vote according to their conscience at the end of their ongoing consultations with the lawmakers.
However, indications that there is already division among the PDP caucus appeared on Friday when five senators elected on the party’s platform attended an event in Abuja where Lawan unfolded his agenda.
The PDP lawmakers in attendance, who also pledged their support for Lawan, were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Mathew Uroghide (Edo), and Clifford Odia also from Edo State.
Others were Abba Moro (Benue), Gershom Bassey (Cross River) and Lawali Anka (Zamfara).
The PDP Senator representing Delta North, Peter Nwaoboshi, had earlier told reporters that he would vote for Lawan in accordance with the directive of his constituents.
Two of the PDP senators-elect told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that their decision to support Lawan was personal and in line with the aspirations of their constituents.
They also confirmed that the party’s caucus was divided over the issue.
One of them said, “Our decision to support Lawan is in the overall interest of Nigerians. We need to move the country forward and it is better to elect a leader who has the backing of the party and the Presidency.
“Lawan has been able to convince us that the nation’s parliament will not be a rubber stamp under his leadership and we believe him. I think it is better to have a smooth relationship between the executive and the legislature in the best interest of our people.”
Moro said the support for Lawan was based on his (Moro’s) conviction that Lawan had the best agenda.
He admitted that the leadership of the PDP had yet to take a decision on the matter.
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He said, “We are still expecting a position from the PDP. I am a senator-elect of the PDP and whatever opinion I am expressing now as a member of the party is personal to me.
“I can assure you that the PDP as an organised body will definitely make a statement and take a position on it.”
Asked if he would defy his party and support Lawan if the PDP directs its 44 members to vote for another candidate , Moro said, “When we come to the river, we would cross the bridge.
“I am supporting Lawan because he has a very good resume. He is one of the longest serving legislators in this country and the Leader of the Senate. He is the best candidate for this job, for now.”
Further investigations revealed that other PDP senators already supporting Lawan would make their position know via the ballot on Tuesday, June 11.
Lawan unfolds agenda, pledges to unite all senators
Meanwhile, Lawan on Friday unfolded his agenda for the Ninth Senate tagged, “A National Assembly that works for Nigeria”, at an event attended by 42 elected senators including those of the opposition parties, in Abuja.
The three-main point agenda covered a broad-based interventions including improving institutional capacity and capabilities of the Senate for effective performance; Legislative interventions for good governance and other areas of concern.
Specifically, Lawan said the agenda has as part of its objectives, repositioning of the Senate to carry out its constitutional duties of legislation, oversight and representation in an open and transparent manner.
He added that it was aimed at strengthening the internal operations and processes of the committees of the Senate towards efficient service delivery.