former Abia State governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) senator-elect Orji Uzor Kalu says that all the 58 progressive senators-elect and the only Young Progressive Party (YPP) senator-elect are backing Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan.
Lawan is seeking to occupy the Senate President’s seat when the Ninth National Assembly opens on June 11. According to Kalu, the identified senators have signed up in support of the Senate Leader.
Besides, Kalu said that any APC member opposed to the emergence of Senator Ahmed Lawan and House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila as Senate President and House of Representatives will be fighting the wish of President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians.
The former governor, who spoke when he received Gbajabiamila at his Abuja home, said the two positions were the only ones the President has shown interest in, adding that it will be wrong to conclude that Gbajabiamila is the candidate of APC stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu because he hails from Lagos.
According to him, President Buhari has interest in the two candidates because theydefended the party.
He said even though the party has the required number to produce the Senate President, it is still working on a bipartisan approach so as not to have a divided Senate on the day of inauguration.
Kalu hopes that in the coming days, the leadership of the party will also plan for a smooth process to pick the Speaker through a bipartisan arrangement.
He said: “Fifty-eight senators have signed for Ahmed Lawan and when you add YPP, you have 59. But we still need other parties to join us for bipartisanship so that there will be no division in the Senate. On the candidacy of the House Leader, Kalu said: “There is no doubt that people have been blackmailing you. The President has told all of us collectively and individually that you are not Tinubu’s candidate. It is a mistake. You are endorsed by the Commander-in-Chief and President of Nigeria. He told us that in an open place and he told all members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate.
“Apart from that, just on Monday (last week), I had a private session with the President and asked him what we are going to do. He said the only two people he wanted are Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
“You people can take every other thing. This is the truth. I am quoting him correctly. He said I only asked them to give me Lawan and Femi because I see them defending the interest of the party.
“So, if Mr. President said so, it means you are not a candidate of Bola Tinubu. You are a candidate of the APC and a bipartisan candidate. You are a candidate of every party that is represented in the National Assembly.
“I am not going to speak too much because action speaks louder. On the voting day, we will be there and I am assuring you that I have spoken on bipartisan level to almost every member of the House from my zone and beyond. So, I can assure you that they will vote for you because this is a serious business.
“You have been endorsed by the President and the National Working Committee (as well as the progressive governors and I have no regret in endorsing you. What we have done in the Senate will happen in the House of Representatives.
“We have concluded the issue of the Senate and within the next four days, we will conclude the issue of the House of Representatives.
“What happened in 2015 cannot happen again. In a normal democracy, you don’t need to contest with anybody because you are already Majority Leader.”
Gbajabiamila said he had been going round the country to seek the support of well-meaning Nigerians for his ambition.
He said: “We have gone round soliciting for support and that is why we are here to seek you support and blessing. Wase and I come to the table with about 30 years’ cumulative legislative experience. He is serving his fourth term and I am serving my fifth term and you cannot buy experience.