By Ibidapo Balogun
A battle royale of sort seems underway in the All Progressives Congress for the position of Senate President of the 8th Senate, WESTERN POST can reveal this weekend.
Already, the battle seems to have been narrowed down to Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State and former Kwara State governor, Senator Bukola Saraki.
At a meeting of some APC Senators on Friday in Lagos facilitated by APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Minority Leader of the Senate and a major contender for the Senate presidency, Senator George Akume, reportedly agreed to step down for Senator Lawan from Yobe in order to give the North-east a chance to produce the Senate President.
Senator Barnabbas Gemade from Benue State, who read the communiqué of the meeting, said Lawan had been adopted by the group of Senators for the plum position while Akume would be the Deputy Senate President.
Gemade later raised the hands of both Lawan and Akume up to give credence to the decision.
Among those known to be backing this pairing are the APC Senators from the South-west and some of their counterparts in the North particularly in Benue, Yobe and some North-western states.
But at another meeting in Abuja, a group of APC Senators, who claimed to be 35 in number, said they had endorsed the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ecology, Senator Saraki for the Senate presidency.
The group led by Senator Dino Melaye from Kogi State said Saraki was the best placed for the job. Among the Senators in this group are former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje.
The APC parades about 64 Senators while the Peoples Democratic Party has about 45 Senators. Saraki is said to have been romancing the PDP Senators led by Senate President David Mark.
If the PDP Senators stick together, they may hold the ace in determining who emerges Senate President between Lawan and Saraki.
It is not clear yet where President-elect Muhammadu Buhari stands in the divide. He had said he would not interfere in who the National Assembly elects as their principal officers.
But WESTERN POST recalls that Lawan was the Chairman of his Campaign Committee in Yobe State in 2007 when Buhari was the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party presidential candidate.
Besides, in the last presidential poll, the North-east which is now demanding the office of Senate President polled about 2.5 million votes for Buhari.
Following the ranking rule of the Senate, Lawan has a clear edge over Saraki. He (Lawan) did two terms in the House of Representatives and has just been elected for a third term in the Senate while Saraki is going for his second term in the Senate.