• We won’t low any external interference – Kawu

From Fred Itua, Abuja

The race for the position of the President of the Senate by former Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has suffered a major blow as senators-elect have withdrawn their support ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly next Tuesday.

This is even as Senator-elect from Kano State, Sumaila Kawu, has warned President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, not to interfere in the election of presiding officers of the two chambers of the 10th National Assembly.

Daily Sun has learnt that senators-elect who were hitherto expressing support for Akpabio, is reportedly withdrawing on account of issues connected with his relationship with the National Assembly when he held sway as Minister of the Nigeria Delta.

Deputy Director-General of Akpabio/ Barau Campaign Organisation, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), on Monday, appealed to senators-elect to support Akpabio’s bid.

Some of the senators-elect hinted that they are having a rethink on Akpabio’s Senate Presidency over accusations that he was disrespectful to the institution of the legislature when he, as the Minister of Niger Delta, openly accused National Assembly members of hugely benefiting from large contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) without proof.

A senator-elect who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the withdrawal of support for Akpabio, querying how he can preside over the National Assembly he despised.

“I have withdrawn support for Senator Akpabio. It’s not only me. Many of us have withdrawn our support and it will show on the floor.

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“I used to have very high regard for Senator Akpabio as a person but I can’t support him to be the Senate President.

“How can he (Akpabio) come and preside over an institution which he once described as a cesspit of corruption after benefitting from the same institution,” the Senator-elect queried.

Senators-elect will at inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, 2023 elect a new Senate President to pilot the affairs of the Senate for the next four years.

Kawu said: “The constitution is explicit about how the President and Deputy President of the Senate shall be elected. For instance, Chapter 2 of the 9th Standing Orders of the Senate 2022 (as amended) stipulates the procedures for the selection of Presiding Officers of the Senate.

“Similarly, Section 50(1)a of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) states that, “there shall be a President and Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.

“Also, section 50(1)b stipulates that, “A Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.

“It is therefore clear that the election of these Presiding Officers is purely an internal affair that concerns only members of the National Assembly and therefore, they should be allowed to decide who among them would occupy the positions in order to avoid repetition of the past mistakes – we may all recall the incidences of the 7th and 8th National Assembly.”