Tinubu Pushes for Christian Senate Presidency as Non-Christian Contenders Withdraw
In a move aimed at promoting stability and inclusivity in Nigeria, the Presidency announced its support for a Christian candidate to assume the position of Senate President. Vice-President Kashim Shettima conveyed this decision during a dinner with lawmakers from various political parties in Abuja. The choice of Senator GodsWill Akpabio as Senate President and Jibrin Barau as Deputy was determined as a consensus ticket by the ruling party. This decision was influenced by the country’s current leadership being composed of Muslims, both at the presidential and vice-presidential levels.Shettima emphasized the importance of balance of power and inclusivity, asserting that it was crucial to have a Christian occupy the third-highest position in the nation’s power hierarchy. The All Progressives Congress (APC), in response to calls for inclusivity, designated the Senate President position to the South-South region and nominated Christian candidate Akpabio as the preferred choice, with Senator Jibrin Barau from the North-West as the Deputy Senate President.Despite the zoning arrangement announced by the ruling party in May, some aspirants for the Senate Presidency and Speaker positions remained defiant, refusing to step down. Senators Abdulaziz Yari, Orji Kalu, Osita Izunaso, and Sani Musa insisted on contesting for these positions. However, Vice-President Shettima validated the zoning arrangement during the dinner, emphasizing the need for inclusivity and unity in governance.Senator Akpabio, the consensus candidate, expressed his commitment to working for the stability of Nigeria, while Senator Barau reiterated the President’s dedication to the progress, unity, and stability of the country. The Stability group’s Director-General, Senator Ali Ndume, indicated that they had the assurance of 73 senators’ votes.In a related development, the Joint Task – 10th Assembly, a coalition of members-elect of the House of Representatives from different parties, announced that two leading contenders, Aliyu Betara and Yusuf Gagdi, had withdrawn from the speakership race, making way for the APC consensus candidate, Tajudeen Abbas. The group refuted claims that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not explicitly endorse Abbas during a meeting with the members-elect, stating that the adoption of Abbas was made after consultations with the President.However, concerns were raised by the Coalition of Northern Groups about alleged plans to arrest and intimidate northern aspirants for principal positions in the National Assembly. The group alleged that some elements aimed to create divisions between President Tinubu, the North, and the APC, mentioning suspicious voting systems and plans to block access to the NASS complex on the day of the inauguration.In a meeting held at Tinubu’s residence, Vice-President Shettima disclosed that Betara and Gagdi had withdrawn their candidacies to support the APC’s zoning arrangement. President Tinubu commended their gesture and called on other contenders to follow suit for the benefit of the party and the nation.As the nation eagerly awaits the outcome, the decisions made during this period will play a significant role in shaping Nigeria’s political landscape and ensuring a more inclusive and stable future.