President Tinubu To Meet Lawmakers From PDP, LP, Other Opposition Parties Over NASS Leadership
President Bola Tinubu will, on Monday, meet with senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives from opposition parties, the Nation newspaper has reported.
The meeting is scheduled to hold between 3 p,m. and 5 p.m. at the State House, Abuja.
The invitation to the meeting was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Tijanni Umar, on behalf of the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Mr Gbajabiamila is also the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The current ninth session of the National Assembly will end on 11 June while the 10th session will be inaugurated on 13 June.
It is therefore not clear if the outgoing senators and members of the House will participate in the meeting as the invitation does not indicate such.
Similarly, the agenda of the parley is not indicated in the invitation.
However, it is speculated that it is one of the ways the president is using to persuade the opposition lawmakers to support his nominees for the leadership of the two chambers.
Mr Tinubu is reportedly backing former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, and the current senator for Kano North, Barau Jibrin, for the positions of senate president and deputy senate president.
He has also endorsed Tajudeen Abbas from Kaduna and Ben Kalu from Abia State for speaker and deputy speaker of the House.
The president’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has since endorsed the aspirants.
However, the endorsement of the quartet has been criticised by some ranking APC lawmakers who vowed to remain in the race for the leadership positions.
Many of them have continued to campaign in objection to the position of the president and the party while others have since dropped their ambition.
For instance, while David Umahi and Ali Ndume have exited the race for the senate presidency, Osita Izunaso, Orji Kalu and Abdulaziz Yari are still campaigning for the position.
In the lower chamber, while Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, Muktar Betara, Yusuf Gagdi, Sada Soli and others are going ahead to campaign to be the speaker, Ado Doguwa has quit the race.
Mr Tinubu’s desire to meet the opposition lawmakers-elect ahead of the 13 June inauguration of both chambers may not be unconnected with his desire to ensure the victory of Messrs Akpabio, Jibrin, Abbas and Kalu, especially because the APC does not have a comfortable majority in both chambers.
In the 109-member Senate, apart from the APC with 59 seats, there are six other opposition parties represented. They are PDP 36, LP 8, SDP 2, NNPP 2, YPP 1 and APGA 1 bringing the total to 50.
Seven parties have members in the 360-member lower chamber. They are PDP 114 seats, LP 35, NNPP 19, APGA 5, ADC 2, SDP 2 and YPP 1 totalling 182. The ruling APC has 178 seats thus not having a simple majority needed to elect its member as speaker if all opposition lawmakers vote against its candidate. However, those challenging the APC-endorsed candidates are also members of the party, indicating that the votes of the APC lawmakers will be split if an election was held today.
In line with the tradition of the National Assembly, the party with the majority seats produces the speaker, deputy speaker, leader and chief whip.
Strategically, Mr Tinubu may have also convened the meeting because APC is divided following the insistence of some of the aspirants to run for leadership positions.
This may be a move to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2015 in the senate when Bukola Saraki emerged as senate president against the wish of the APC and in 2011 when Aminu Tambuwal was elected speaker against the choice of the then-ruling PDP.
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