More facts have emerged on how President Bola Tinubu endorsed a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for the senate presidency.
Sources close to the President told one of our correspondents on Saturday that the deal to make Akpabio president of the senate was sealed a day before the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress.
The primary, which was held at the Eagles Square in Abuja between June 6 and 8, 2022, had Tinubu, Akpabio and others as aspirants.
“Asiwaju (Tinubu) met with Akpabio a day before the primary and approached him to step down for him. Tinubu said if the former governor would agree, it would send a positive signal to the audience and other aspirants since he (Akpabio) would be the first aspirant to be invited to the podium to speak,” one of the sources said.
According to the source, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter, Akpabio agreed but said he needed to know what would be his ‘gain’ since he had resigned as a minister and was not a senatorial aspirant.
“Asiwaju (Tinubu) assured him that he would be supported to emerge as the President of the Senate. As they were speaking, an influential woman (name withheld) also came in. That was how the deal was sealed,” another source stated.
It was also gathered that the outgoing President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, met with Akpabio on the day of the primary to seek his support.
It was gathered that Lawan reportedly told the former minister that he had been anointed as the candidate of both the party and the ‘northern caucus’.
But Akpabio, according to one of the sources, said he had given his words to Tinubu and would not be able to support Lawan’s aspiration.
Sunday PUNCH gathered from other impeccable sources close to the matter that Lawan had not forgiven Akpabio for allegedly snubbing him and, therefore, accused him of ‘bringing the senate into disrepute while serving as the minister in charge of the Niger Delta Ministry’.
In July 2020, Akpabio, who was the Minister of Niger Delta, revealed that some contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission were given to federal legislators, but the chairman of the probe panel practically begged him not to spill the beans.
Meanwhile, ahead of the June 13 inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party has accused the ruling APC of plotting to intimidate and arrest lawmakers-elect seen as championing the independence of the legislature.
The party stated this barely 24 hours after boasting that it would leverage the number of lawmakers elected on the platform of opposition parties to determine the leadership of both houses.
A former Governor of Zamfara State and top contender for the senate presidency, Senator Abdulaziz Yari, is speculated to be one of those being targeted for arrest.
Yari had approached the Federal High Court in Abuja to seek an order of court restraining security agencies from arresting him. The court on Monday restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Department of State Services from detaining the former governor, pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice.
Yari, who had boasted of having over 65 senators backing his ambition, had refused to support Akpabio, who had been announced as the choice of both the President and the ruling party.
Addressing journalists at the party’s national secretariat on Saturday, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba said, “Information at our disposal which is verifiable and some of which we got from reports, is that there are attempts by some APC elements to intimidate, harass and threaten lawmakers-elect with a view to influencing the outcome of the election on Tuesday on the floor of both chambers as to who emerges the Speaker and the President of the Senate.
“There are reports of harassment to arrest those people who are considered to be strong proponents of the independence of the legislature and who are at the forefront of the need to respect those standing rules that provide that members-elect should elect their leadership without any external influence.
“We have these reported actions and plots to arrest such individuals. We as a party that believes in democracy and had the privilege of ‘mid-wifing’ this democracy of ours for 16 years, recognises the fact that the legislature is an ingredient that is very important and key to the sustenance of democracy. So, we need to raise an alarm.”