Senate President Race: Akpabio, Kalu Draw Battle Line
The battle for the number three citizen, the Senate Presidency of the 10th Senate now appears to be between the Southeast and the Southsouth geopolitical zones.
Over the past couple of days, the call for the Senate President to be a Christian from either the Southeast or Southsouth has gained significant momentum.
This latest development has increased the chances of Sen Orji Uzor Kalu and Sen Godswill Akpabio, who are from the Southeast and Southsouth zones, respectively.
In this this article, DAILY POST looks at the chances of the two aspirants and the intrigue within the ruling party.
The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu are expected to decide on the zoning of the offices. There have been countless meetings at the residence of the president-elect on the zoning of the offices.
READ ALSO: 10th NASS Leadership: Why Akpabio May Drop Senate Presidency Ambition
It was learnt that the deliberations have been divided between those calling for the inclusion of the Southeast and those calling for reward based on the outcome of the presidential election.
Those opposed to Kalu argued that his inability to deliver votes for Tinubu during the presidential election should count against him.
Kalu polled 30,805 votes to win the Abia North-senatorial district election; however, Tinubu only managed to poll 8,914 votes in the entire Abia State.
Akpabio on the other hand delivered 132,683 votes, a tally that is more than the 115,401 votes he garnered in his senatorial district election.
Some loyalists also pointed to the primary election where Kalu backed Senate President Ahmad Lawan for the APC ticket, while Akpabio was the first presidential aspirant to step down and endorsed Tinubu during the primary election in June 2022.
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These are the two main talking points that have shaped the conversation on the choice of the Senate President.
It would be recalled that the APC Governors recently sent a memo to the president-elect on the appropriate zoning of the offices. The governors stated that contribution to the presidential election must be a major factor in zoning.
In the memo, governors faulted the voting pattern of the southeast, noting that the region exhibited “exclusionary electoral conduct”.
“The South-east contributed the least to Asiwaju’s victory, consistently exhibited the most exclusionary electoral conduct since the advent of the Fourth Republic, and yet also feels entitled to the Senate Presidency,” it reads.
The APC governors went further to state there is a need to signal to the South-east in order to ensure “adequate deterrence for exclusionary electoral conduct.”
READ ALSO: Senate Presidency: APC May Settle For S-South, Tips N-West for Deputy
Many believe that the language of the Governors shows that they are leaning toward the South-south zone.
If the South-east loses out in the race for the Senate President, there is a possibility that the region will equally lose out on the Speaker and the Deputy Senate President due to zoning.
However, it was learnt that other voices are pushing for the Senate President to be zoned to the South without micro-zoning and that the Speaker should be zoned to the North without micro-zoning to any region.
Head to head
Both Akpabio and Kalu have corruption allegations they are carrying. The former is facing an investigation concerning over N108 billion alleged misappropriation during his time in office.
Also, as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, he has been linked to the alleged corruption that happened in the Niger Delta Development Commission. It would be recalled that Akpabio was accused of corruption by the former Managing Director of NDDC, Joi Nunieh.
READ ALSO: Seven In Battle For Senate President
Akpabio subsequently appeared before the House during the N81 billion probe of the NDDC by the House Committee on Niger Delta. The probe produced the infamous “Off your mic” moment.
Meanwhile, Kalu was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on 5 December 2019. The judgement was subsequently voided by the Supreme Court in May 2020 and ordered a retrial.
After the pronouncement, Kalu was subsequently released from prison and he returned to the Senate.
If the race is thrown open, both aspirants will have to rely on their connections in their previous party, the PDP for support.
In the last 72 hours, the two have recently met with the president-elect separately. But they must show the capacity to reach out to senators outside their party. The minority parties in the Senate have a combined strength of 50 lawmakers.
The recent visit of Atiku Abubakar to the House of Kalu has already set tongues wagging within the APC. Although Atiku was there to visit the former Abia Governor on the death of his wife, the timing of the visit is raising eyebrows.
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The PDP is divided between Atiku and G5 camps; however, going by the outcome of the 2023 election, the G5 lost several seats in the Senate race. PDP lost ground in Abia, Enugu, Oyo and Benue.
On the other hand, PDP has significantly increased its strength in the North— Kaduna, Kebbi, Gombe, Bauchi and Plateau States now have a significant number of senators. Support from Atiku could change the dynamic of the race in favour of Kalu.
With Aminu Tambuwal in the Senate, the PDP senators-elect will play a significant role in deciding where the pendulum swings with their 36 seats in the House.
Akpabio’s supremacy battle with PDP in Akwa-Ibom State could count against him, as the outgoing governor may be wary of empowering his rival.
However, the opportunity to have the Senate Presidency may override the local squabble.
The race is no doubt expected to be tough between the two Senators.
UPDATED: Why I Resigned From PDP – Sen. Urhoghide
Senator Mathew Urhoghide, representing Edo South Senatorial District, on Wednesday announced his resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This was contained in a letter to the acting chairman of the party and made available to newsmen in Benin.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Account in the letter, said that the decision was due to the irreconcilable differences and squabbles within the PDP at the national and in the state.
His letter reads in part: “I write to formally inform you and entire member of the PDP that I am resigning my membership of the party, effective immediately.
READ ALSO: Edo 2024: Edo Senator, Urhoghide, Resigns Membership Of PDP
“My decision arose out of the negative political energy emanating at the moment from the irreconcilable differences and squabbles within the PDP at the national level and especially in my dear state.
“These squabble have spiked to the level that have made it impossible for someone who is a confirmed democrat to function and grow as I envisage in my political journey
“This letter is fulfilling the promise I made to the leader of the PDP that I will consult and inform formally when and if I decided to step out of the PDP.
” I am grateful to the party which yielded me the opportunity to achieve the mission of serving as a two-term Senator .
“Which afforded me the opportunity to express my self and in a way that I have been able to affect my senatorial district,” he said.
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Urhoghide noted that the opportunity has helped him to build lasting friendship within the national and state party hierarchy and at the Senate.
He added: “These friendship I shall draw on going forward, and above all imbibed in me knowledge and experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.”
Urhighide, however, solicited for prayer as he took the bold step in the belief that it was the purpose of the almighty God in his interference in the affairs of men.
Edo 2024: Edo Senator, Urhoghide, Resigns Membership Of PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State has lost the membership of Senator Matthew Aisagbonriodion Urhoghide, an influential member and leader of the party in the state.
Urhoghide is the current senator representing Edo South in the National Assembly.
Urhoghide’s resignation is contained in a letter sent to the press of the senate today.
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The former Senator is rumored to be oiling his political machinery to contest the 2024 governorship election in the stats on the platform of the Labour Party.
Wike No Longer In PDP, Says NEC member
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Executive Committee, Timothy Osadolor, says the immediate-past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is no longer a member of the party, given his conduct before, during and after the 2023 general elections.
Osadolor, who gave the hint in a telephone conversation with The PUNCH on Tuesday, noted that the leadership of the party had decided to isolate Wike and render him inconsequential in the affairs of the PDP.
According to him, Wike’s recent public outings wherein he appeared to be leaning towards the All Progressives Congress, give him away as a man in perpetual craving for the spotlight at all times and regardless of the cost to his image as an opposition political leader.
He said, “The PDP has ignored Wike because the man is no longer himself. There are more ways to deal with people apart from sanctioning them. You can keep someone in isolation. He (Wike) can boast that he is the one that stayed away but is it not better to stay away than come to party activities and nobody wants to associate with you? He has been given a cold treatment because he went to court to procure a judgment that says he cannot be suspended but there is no judgment that says he cannot be avoided. That is what the PDP has been doing to him and technically, if Wike wants to say the truth, he will tell you that he is no longer a member of the PDP. No PDP leader or member behaves the way he does.”
But in a swift reaction, a chieftain of the PDP and immediate past Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Chris Finebone, said Wike remained a bona fide member of the opposition party.
Describing Osadolor’s comments as wishful thinking, Finebone said he does not have any power to speak for the party.
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He stated, “We can’t identify who he represents, but I think it is wishful thinking. It is wishful thinking and the man who is said to have said that is inconsequential as far as we are concerned.
“And so, whatever he has said is of no effect. His Excellency, the former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is 110 per cent a member of PDP and nothing has changed. And nothing can change it.”
On the accusation that Wike has been hobnobbing with Tinubu, he said it was petty and frivolous.
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