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N’Assembly leadership: PDP NWC meets lawmakers-elect Thursday, Friday

The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party will on Thursday begin a two-day consultation with the party’s members-elect of the ninth National Assembly.

The consultation will end on Friday.

The PUNCH had on Monday reported exclusively that the party’s leadership would meet with the 44 senators-elect as well as 118 members-elect of the House of Representatives in Abuja this week.

The meeting, according to sources, would decide among others, the aspirants members would vote for as the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives after the proclamation and inauguration of the ninth session of the National Assembly on June 11.

It was also learnt that the parley would deliberate on whether the PDP members should contest presiding officers’ positions.

Another issue on the meeting’s agenda, according to another source, is the contentious voting method.

A senator told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the caucus meeting would insist on the secret ballot as stipulated in the current Senate Standing Rule.

He said, “The meeting will also enable us to decide whether any of our member should contest as presiding officer or not.

“We would also decide on the aspirant to support for the President of the Senate position between Senators Ahmad Lawan and Ali Ndume.

“We would also decide on the aspirants that would get our votes between Femi Gbajabiamila and other aspirants contesting the position of Speaker.”

Meanwhile, strong indications emerged on Tuesday that the incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and the current Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, are perfecting strategies to seek re-election.

Dogara and Ekweremadu had neither denied nor confirmed their intention to run despite growing concerns among their colleagues that they might likely spring a surprise on the day of inauguration.

The Special Adviser to Dogara on Media, Turaki Hassan, in a statement on Sunday simply said his principal had yet to declare his ambition but did not categorically rule out his involvement in the race.

Similarly, the media office of the Deputy Senate President had also yet to deny social media reports claiming that Ekweremadu was eyeing his seat again for the fourth time.

Attempts to speak with Dogara through Hassan failed on Tuesday as he neither responded to calls put across to him nor replied any of the text messages sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

But Ekweremadu’s media aide, Uche Anichukwu, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that he was not aware of plans by his principal to contest the deputy senate presidency again.

He said, “It is not to my knowledge that Senator Ike Ekweremadu is contesting election to retain his position in the Ninth Senate.

“He is not in the country at the moment. So, I cannot confirm your enquiry.”

However, some PDP senators who spoke with one of our correspondents on Monday on condition of anonymity, explained that Ekweremadu had been reaching out to his colleagues for support.

A senator from the South-East geopolitical zone said, “The leaders of our party are currently divided over the ambition of Dogara and Ekweremadu.

“While some of them are of the opinion that the two presiding officers should take advantage of the number of the PDP lawmakers in both chambers to seek re-election, others believe that we should support friendly aspirants for the positions.”

One of our correspondents further learnt that a leading aspirant had contacted Ekweremadu and asked him to endorse him openly but that he declined.

The Enugu-born politician is believed to be collaborating with one of the aspirants to emerge as DSP just like it happened in 2015.

An elected PDP member of the House of Representatives from the North-East geopolitical zone also told one of our correspondents on Monday that nothing suggested that Dogara would not contest the election.

“The Speaker, (Dogara) is currently working silently to actualise his ambition. He is still loved and he would win if he contests,” he said.

Another House of Representatives member-elect, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Dogara has not openly declared support for any of the six APC aspirants because of his own ambition.

He said, “Speaker Dogara should not be ruled out in the election of the Ninth House of Representatives. He has some people secretly working for him.”

One of our correspondents learnt that the PDP lawmakers in both chambers were awaiting the outcome of their meeting with the party’s leadership to know the direction to follow on Dogara and Ekweremadu.

Recall that the spokesperson for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, had confirmed in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday that its members in the National Assembly would this week, get the directive on how to vote for presiding officers.

Ologbondiyan had said the executives of the party would meet separately with their members in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Punch

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