President Muhammadu Buhari has personally taken charge of lobbying incoming members of the 9th National Assembly in the bid to install Dr Ahmed Lawan as the next Senate President and Mr Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The President, according to well placed sources, is taking nothing for granted this time around to avoid a repeat of the 2015 ‘coup’ when dissenting members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their allies in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hijacked the election process and picked candidates other than those preferred by the ruling party.
The Nation gathered that shortly before leaving for London on a private visit last week, Buhari took the driver’s seat at meetings with some of the aspirants for the two plum offices.
He was said to have met Senator Danjuma Goje who enjoys the backing of the opposition PDP, and a member of the House, Ahmed Idris Wase, rated as enjoying wider backing from Reps.
One source said the President has already sent an emissary to Senator Ali Ndume who has consistently said that the President is yet to discuss with him on his ambition.
The source said the President plans to meet soon with Umaru Mohammed Bago, who has vowed not to step down for Gbajabiamila.
A top source who is familiar with the situation said: “Following complaints of imposition, the President has decided to reach out to the main aspirants to explain to them that he is actually the one who is interested in working with Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
“His determination to leave sustainable legacies has made him be involved in opening talks with some aspirants.
“The President is reaching out because there is a lot of disinformation as if he is not personally involved in the demand for Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
“He is also worried that the election of principal officers is being personalized beyond the actors in the National Assembly.
“He met with Goje and begged him to support his choice of Lawan.
“Actually, the meeting with Goje was facilitated by Governor Nasir el-Rufai after preparatory discussion with the former governor of Gombe State.
“Goje admitted that he had some difficulty and would need to consult more before giving the President any feedback. A second session between the President and Goje is expected any moment from now.”
Investigations also revealed that the President has indirectly opened talks with a former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume on why he should allow Lawan to be the next President of the Senate.
It was learnt that Governor el-Rufai has already held discussion with Ndume preparatory to the aspirant’s meeting with Buhari.
“Apart from the APC governors, the President will have a follow-up meeting with Ndume. But his emissary (el-Rufai) has done preliminary consultations,” a Presidency source said.
It was similarly gathered that Buhari has met with one of the aspirants for the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase from Plateau State on the need for him to step down for Gbajabiamila.
Buhari met with Wase in the company of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State. Wase is from the state.
A source privy to the session said: “The President persuaded Wase to concede the Speaker slot to Gbajabiamila in the light of his second term agenda.
“He told Wase that although as a ranking member, he is entitled to lead the chamber but he wants to work with Gbajabiamila while Wase can be part of the team of the new Speaker.
“It was a confidence-building session facilitated by an APC governor. But Wase is yet to make any commitment.”