By Shola Abayomi
Ahead of the impending elections of the principal officers of the ninth assembly, there are indications that the leadership of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will be meeting in Abuja sometime this week to adopt a common position on who to support in both chambers.
The meeting, which expectedly would have the members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in attendance, would be chaired by the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. Selected members of the party’s National Executive Council, all elected lawmakers as well as outgoing principal officers of the party are also expected to grace the meeting.
“The party’s national leadership will carry everyone along in the decision-making concerning the issue,” PUNCH newspaper reported a party source as saying.
As part of the agenda of the meeting, the outgoing Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his counterpart in the lower chamber, Hon. Yakubu Dogara may be required to provide reference on those who already indicated interest to succeed them.
In the Senate, names of three ranking senators are already in the public domain as likely successors to Saraki. These include the current majority leader in the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and his predecessor, Senator Ali Ndume. The Chairman of the senate committee on appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, is also said to be in the race, although he is yet to make any public declaration to that effect.
In the House of Representatives, six members of the ruling party, the APC, led by the party’s preferred candidate and current House majority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila have already indicated interest to replace Dogara. Gbajabiamila is from Lagos state.
Others are, Mohammed Bago from Niger, John Dyegh from Benue, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha from Abia, and two members from Oyo state; Segun Odebunmi and Olatunbosun Olajide.
Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP’s spokesman, confirmed the planned NWC to INSIDER. According to him, the party will have two meetings, one with PDP’s Senators-elect and the other with members-elect of the House of Representatives.
While noting that the party will not seek to treat its members in the national assembly like kids who should be directed on what to do, because they are the ones who will work with anyone elected, Ologbondiyan said the party had not decided if there will be any form of sanctions against any members who jumped the gun by declaring support for candidates in the race for the National Assembly leadership.
“The party will certainly meet this week and take a decision on whether our elected members of the Ninth National Assembly would be directed to cast their votes for a particular aspirant or be given freedom to vote for any aspirant of their choice.
“We will meet with the PDP caucuses in the Senate and House of Representatives separately because they know the particular aspirant they could work with.
“We have not got to the level of determining sanctions against our members who have already started identifying with a particular candidate,” the party’s publicity secretary said.