Tension is mounting within the fold of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over decision by its National Working Committee ( NWC) to draw up criteria that would be used to determine the best candidate for the post of Senate president during the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
The NWC, at its meeting held with President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday night, had listed certain critical criteria which the next Senate president must possess.
The meeting had agreed that the party’s candidate for the post must come from the geopolitical zone with the second highest number of votes after the North West, during the Presidential Election held on March 28, 2015.
The party leadership also agreed that the next Senate president must not have any corruption charges hanging on his or her neck and should be one of the most ranking senators in the current Fourth Republic.
Insider sources at the meeting revealed that the leadership of the party was mandated to, within three days, present the most eligible aspirant as a consensus candidate for the post, based on the listed criteria during inauguration next week.
The two gladiators currently contesting the office of the Senate President are, Senators Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) and Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North).
Two groups, “Like Minds Senators” and the “Senate Unity Forum” who were supporting the candidatures of Saraki and Lawan respectively, claimed to have secured the endorsements of enough relevant number of senators to win the race.
While the Saraki camp compiled a list containing the names of 34 APC senators-elect, the Lawan loyalists claimed that 40 APC senators-elect had endorsed the Yobe senator as their own consensus candidate.
The development created serious confusion because there are just 59 APC senators-elect expected to be inaugurated in the Eighth Senate following the death of Ahmed Zannah (Borno Central) last month.
Some elected senators who spoke to newsmen in Abuja yesterday expressed fears that the decision of the APC to use the criteria considered strange to the rules of the Senate and constitution of the country could be counterproductive.
The party had planned to announce its preferred candidate between Lawan and Saraki during a meeting with the senators-elect today in Abuja. But those who reacted to the issue urged the leadership of the party to allow the most popular aspirant to emerge through a due process that would be free, fair, credible and generally acceptable to all concerned.
Further investigations by the Newswatch Times revealed that the choice of a consensus candidate from the APC senators-elect might rob the party of the position, because the opposition lawmakers might take advantage of the division to present a candidate.