Battle for the presidency of the 10th National Assembly may end up producing a dark horse as northern and South-West leaders have weighed into the raging storm over the choice of National Assembly principal officers.
At present, the tussle has pitched the loyalists of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, against those of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, splintering the ruling All Progressives Congress into camps.
There have been reports of a silent war raging between the two camps following the micro-zoning of Senate President to Senator Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State.
The battle has also set the legislators from the six geo-political zones of the country against one another and widening lines of ethnicity and religion among the senators-elect and their contemporaries in the House of Representatives, a development now spreading to various parts of the country and further generating bad blood amongst Nigerians.
Worried by this development, the northern statesmen including two former military heads of state and some first-class traditional rulers in the North and South West have intervened and spoken to key senators to douse the tension in the country.
According to a Senator-elect, who spoke to Vanguard in Abuja on condition of anonymity; the elder statesmen took the task individually and reached out to key senators particularly from the North to give preference to Nigeria’s unity and national cohesion in their actions over the election of the Assembly leadership.
The top source said that in their talks with the senators, the major appeal was for the North not to use their higher numerical strength to emasculate the Senate in the contest for its leadership.
“Instead, they appealed to us to emulate the APC governors from Northern Nigeria who in the most patriotic manner gave all their support to the emergence of a southern candidate for the party and did all within their powers for the victory of Bola Tinubu from the South-West at the polls.
“They are talking to us, especially those who have declared interest in the presidency of the senate to drop their legitimate ambitions for the sake of unity and cohesion of Nigeria and support the Southern region in producing it”.
The Senator-elect, however, confirmed that the Northern Senators were not initially against the South producing the senate president but that they were piqued because of the way the president-elect unilaterally went for Senator Akpabio.
“But, with the seriousness of the moves by these patriotic and highly respected statesmen and the esteemed traditional rulers, I see the major contender from the North, Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari dropping the gauntlet and supporting a more credible and consensus-vibrant aspirant from the South.
“Apart from the manner he was chosen by the President-elect, Northern Senators see an Akpabio-led Senate as an attempt to bring back the agitations for resource control, something they loathe with a passion.
“We can not trust his leadership as he is unlikely going to protect the interest of the North,” a northern Senator said.
From the North, there are three contenders, namely, Abubakar Yari, Jibrin Barau, and Sani Musa, while from the South are Osita Izunaso, Orji KaluGodswill Akpabio. There are also unconfirmed reports that a former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomole, may join the race.