The race for the position of president of the Senate by former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, has again, suffered a major blow, as senators-elect have reportedly withdrawn support, ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly next Tuesday.
This is even as senator-elect from Kano State, Sumaila Kawu, warned President Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to interfere in the election of presiding officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Reports gathered that senators-elect, who were hitherto expressing support for Akpabio, are reportedly withdrawing on account of issues connected with his relationship with the National Assembly when he held sway as Minister of the Nigeria Delta ministry.
Deputy Director General of Akpabio/Barau Campaign Organisation, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), on Monday, appealed to senators-elect to support Akpabio’s bid.
Some of the senators-elect said they were having a rethink on Akpabio’s Senate presidency over accusations that he was disrespectful to the institution of the legislature when he, as minister, 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 and queried how he can preside over the National Assembly he despised.
“I have withdrawn support for Akpabio. It’s not only me. Many of us have withdrawn our support and it will show on the floor.
“I used to have very high regard for 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 would during inauguration on June 13 elect a new 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 should be elected. For instance, Chapter 2 of the 9th Standing Orders of the Senate 2022 (as amended) stipulates the procedures for selection of presiding officers of the Senate.
“Similarly, Section 50(1)a of the 1999 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 they should be allowed to decide who among them would occupy the positions to avoid repetition of the past mistakes.”