Saturday, 23 May 2015

David Mark Set to Join Race for Senate Presidency

The rumoured plot by the out­going Senate President, David Mark to stage a comeback as leader of the 8th Senate may not be false after all, as fresh indications show that the retired military General turned politician may spring a surprise on June 4 when the next Senate session is expected to begin.

A reliable Peoples Democratic Party, PDP chieftain, who knows about the plot, told Saturday Sun that Mark may join the race for the Senate President should the All Progressives Congress (APC) fail to get a consensus candidate among its three contenders for the seat. They are Senators Bukola Saraki, Ahmed Lawan and George Akume.

Though Mark, who has spent eight years on the same seat, is a member of the mi­nority party, PDP, with about 45 members in the upper chamber, it was learnt that he is going to capitalize on the division within APC to emerge.

“I can put a bet on it that If APC fails to pick one of Saraki, Lawan or Akume at their retreat this weekend, then they should prepare for a David Mark on the day of in­auguration because the APC will share its 64 votes among its three contenders while the PDP will deliver all our 45 votes to Mark. We even hope to get some protest votes from APC members”, the PDP leader stated with confidence.

“I won’t deny we have met on that and a decision has been taken to get all PDP senators to give a bloc vote to Mark the moment one of them nominates him, only after the three APC contenders must have been nominated. We will only back out if APC presents only one contender or a con­sensus candidate”, the source added.

Though APC has called for a two-day retreat for its Senators-elect, to enable the party leadership to arrive at a consensus but the hardline position adopted by dif­ferent power blocs within the APC on the choice of some principal officers of the 8th National Assembly especially the Senate, may make a peaceful agreement elusive.

Although it is not clear if the party’s leadership has got wind of the clandestine move by David Mark and the PDP, but in a swift move on Thursday, the party said the retreat would be held at the Ibeto Hotel in Apo area of Abuja and urged all its Sena­tors-elect to arrive at the venue where ac­commodation arrangement had been made for them, by 6 p.m. on Friday, May 22, as there would be a closed-door meeting be­tween all Senators-elect and party leaders at 8 p.m. of the same day.

APC in a statement by its spokesman, Lai Mohammed said: “The two-day retreat is part of efforts being undertaken by the party to ensure that the legislators hit the ground running for the benefit of Nigeri­ans.’’ The undisclosed objective of the re­treat, it was learnt, was to find a way out of the logjam over the choice of a Senate President.

The party leaders had made initial moves to zone some principal offices but the struggle for control by major power blocs within the party frustrated the bid. Earlier in the week, a former Interim Chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, had said that zoning of political offices has never been the po­sition of the party and rejected the notion that the party was standing in the way of any qualified Senator in its fold to contest the position of Senate President.

The APC chieftain said it was the Peo­ples Democratic Party that brought zoning into Nigeria’s polity and that no way would his party adopt the debilitating tradition.

“Zoning is not part of APC,” he said. “It is a PDP arrangement and we will not practise it. What you see with the Senate Presidency is us trying to ensure there is no rancour among the senators. Of course, we want the best man to emerge and that is what will happen.

“It is true that sometime after the elec­tion, the National Chairman (Chief John Oyegun) wanted to toy with the idea of zoning. But as a united party, we unani­mously said, ‘No.’

“We know that zoning could create a room for the opposition to take advantage and snatch these positions. We have been sacrificing and compromising in the inter­est of our nation and that is what we must continue to do.”

Mr. Akande spoke when a group of re­porters met him as he arrived Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos for a meeting.

The President-elect had earlier dissociat­ed himself from claims that he was backing the candidature of one of the three contend­ers for the seat.

When asked on plans by APC to scuttle PDP’s ambition, Lai Mohammed, the par­ty’s spokesman, simply said: “We are not leaving any stone unturned.”

He added that PDP as a minority party “cannot reap where it has not sowed.”

Efforts to get the reaction of Senator Mark on his secret bid were unsuccessful. His Media Adviser, Kola Ologbodiyan and Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh refused to pick calls to their telephone lines while text messages sent to them were equally not replied as at press time.

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