One of the top contenders for the Senate presidency, Senator George Akume, and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday met at the Lagos home of Tinubu.
PUNCH Newspaper correspondent that at the meeting which took place around 3pm, Tinubu told Akume to shelve his ambition and support Senator Ahmed Lawan, who represents Yobe-North senatorial district in the 8th Senate.
The battle for the Senate presidency was between the North-East and the North-Central. Akume, who is currently the Senate Minority Leader, represents Benue-North senatorial district in the Senate.
Senator Bukola Saraki, who represents Kwara-Central senatorial district in the North-Central geopolitical zone, had also openly expressed his intention to contest the number three seat in the country.
However, it was learnt that the leadership of the APC finally decided to zone the Senate presidency to the North-East following ‘fresh developments’.
A reliable source in the APC told our correspondent that Lawan had already been backed by the current Senate President, David Mark, and other members of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He said, “Tinubu explained to Akume that Lawan and Senator Mark are very close and already, some members of the PDP support him. Lawan has a good track record in the Senate and has been backed by almost all the senators in the North-East who feel the zone has been seriously marginalised.
“The catch there is that if the APC members in the Senate do not support Lawan and he wins the Senate presidency with bloc votes from the PDP and his friends in the North-East, he will be loyal to the PDP and may sideline us just as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, attributed his victory to the APC back in 2011 even though he was a member of the PDP.
“Mark will definitely do everything possible to ensure that Akume does not emerge Senate President if we pick Akume because they are not on good terms. Tinubu told Akume that he sacrificed his presidential ambition for the sake of the party.
“Tinubu, therefore, urged Akume to settle for the Deputy Senate presidency or Senate Majority Leader.”
The 8th Senate will have 60 APC members while the PDP will have 48. The number of senators in the North-East is 18.
The source said Akume was also asked to step down because the North-Central, where he hails from, had been holding the Senate presidency since 2007 while the North-East had never presided over the upper chamber of the National Assembly since independence.
He added that giving the North-East the seat would also be a way of rewarding them for giving the APC the second highest number of votes during the presidential election.
He said, “The current Senate president is from Benue State and has been in charge for eight years. Would it be fair to also handover the Senate presidency to another person from Benue?
“The President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, got more than 2.5 million votes from the North-East and this should be rewarded.”
It was learnt that Lawan, who just won a third term in office, had already been accepted by those close to the President-elect because he was among those who led Buhari’s presidential campaign in the then All Nigeria Peoples Party in 2007 in Yobe State.
The source told PUNCH that a committee comprising Tinubu’s wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Senator Gbenga Ashafa and Senator Ajayi Boroffice had been set up to meet with the aggrieved parties.