Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, wrote personal letters to members of APC NWC and the 108 senators-elect, intimating them of his intention to contest the position of Senate President.
Kalu, however, refuted stories making the rounds that the South-east senators-elect had endorsed him. He explained that they only met to make a demand from the president-elect and APC.
In an official statement released by his media office, Kalu said he was offering himself for the position of Senate President to the Nigerian people, the senators-elect, and the party with sincerity of heart, humility, and candour.
Kalu noted that his seeming inactive posture in the senate presidency race was because of the one month mourning of his late wife, Mrs Ifeoma Ada Kalu.
Attached to the letter of intent was a copy of Kalu’s legislative agenda, which had six priorities, listed as follows: Economic Growth and Reform; Constitutional and Electoral Reform; National Security; Improved Social Conditions and Welfare; Efficient and Effective National Assembly and Global Influence
Kalu promised to promote and defend the constitution and foster a congenial and cordial relationship between the executive and judiciary.
Nonetheless, some former senators, who were in the second to fourth National Assembly, met in Abuja yesterday and expressed support for the planned zoning of Senate President to South-south and Deputy Senate President to North-west.
Convener of the group, Senator Basheer Lado, who read the communiqué at the end of the meeting, said their resolution was based on the need for fairness, equity and justice.
The ex-lawmakers noted that the National Assembly required experienced and level-headed leaders at the helm of its affairs to calm the current tension in the country.
They stated, “We believe that, in the spirit of equity, fairness, political expedience and following extensive consultations with stakeholders, hereby express our total support for the zoning of the position of the President of the 10th Senate to the South-south geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
“We also affirm our unfettered support for the position of the President of the 10th Senate, who also doubles as Chairman of the National Assembly, to be conferred on His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON.
“The position of Senate President represents the third position in hierarchy of our current democratic dispensation. This position carries considerable weight in discharging vital constitutional responsibilities and for charting the right course for our national development.
“It is also important that the holder of such a position enjoys the confidence and support of the party leadership and that of his peers, as Senator Godswill Akpabio undoubtedly does.
“With this same spirit of fairness, we also affirm our solid support that the position of Deputy President of the 10th Senate be conceded to Distinguished Senator Barau I. Jubril, CON, representing Kano North Senatorial Zone, Kano State.
“It is our conviction that a diverse and united legislative leadership is critical to good governance. At a trying period in our nation’s political history, the National Assembly requires experienced and level headed leaders at the helm of its affairs.”
Other former senators present at the press briefing included Barnabas Gemade, Abba Aji, Magnus Abe, Ayogu Eze, Ridwan Soji Akanbi, Eta Enag, Ayo Arise, and Sunny Ugbuoji.
But the position of the former senators was rejected by a group loyal to another aspirant for senate presidency, Abdulaziz Yari.
The group, Good Governance Initiative (GGi), condemned the action of the former senators and described it as double-standard and undemocratic.
The group berated the former senators for calling on other aspirants to step down for Akpabio.
The pro-Yari group said the call by the former lawmakers amounted to double standard, as many members of the hitherto unknown group had championed the independence of the legislature in the past when it suited their interests.
The group said, “These were people who functioned as lawmakers at the highest level of this country previously. They ought to understand fundamental rights of individuals as enshrined in the constitution. They ought to understand constitutional democracy like ours. Many of them on the list once championed the independence of the parliament. So, what has changed? The best answer to the question is double standard on their part, for their selfish gains.
“However, His Excellency Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari will exercise his rights within the confines of the Senate Standing Rule and the 1999 Constitution, as amended. He cannot be intimidated by this kind of gang-up since the former senators have no voting rights on the floor of the senate, on one hand.”