David Diai

Delta North Senator-Elect and current Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi has lent voice to the robust and contentious debate over who becomes the next Nigerian Senate President and thrown his weight solidly behind the ambition of Senator Ahmed Lawan, who appears to be the front runner and most favoured contender, for the plum job of the Number Three citizen in the country.

NAN reports that Senator Nwaoboshi, who belongs to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta, made the declaration while addressing media men in Abuja on Friday, May 31, following his legal triumph at the Court of Appeal and the restoration of his mandate by the Appellate Court, as the authentic Senator-Elect for Delta North Senatorial zone, after successfully appealing the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja, headed by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, which had, on April 3, 2019, nullified his October 2, 2018 emergence as the victorious PDP Delta North Senatorial candidate at the party primaries and his subsequent victory at the February 23 National Assembly elections, which the PDP won.

Nwaoboshi, who clearly outlined his reasons for backing Alhaji Ahmed Lawan as the fit and proper Senate President to lead the forthcoming 9th session of the National Assembly, equally stated unequivocally that with his mandate as Delta North Senator-Elect restored by the Court of Appeal, he was fully aware of the reported intention of his challenger Prince Ned Nwoko, to take the matter to the Supreme and was fully prepared to meet Nwoko at the Supreme Court, to defend and secure his mandate once and for all.

Justifying his decision to pitch his tent with the Yobe North, All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator, against his main rival, also of APC, Senator Ali Ndume from Borno South, who he ironically replaced as Senate Majority leader in 2016, Nwaoboshi averred that Senator Ahmed Lawan, from his assessment of the key political gladiators on the field, had better credentials than all the other contenders for the Senate Presidency position.

Nwaoboshi said: “In 2015, I made my support clear that I was going to support the incumbent Senate President (Bukola Saraki), even before other persons came to join and my prediction came to pass.

“I have called you people again this year to make my position
clear because I believe that after the election, what should be
paramount on our minds now is Nigeria. Not party, not religious affiliation, but what we think is good for Nigeria.

“To that extent I have been thinking and I have been watching all the aspirants closely. Many of them have come to consult with me, spoken with me on phone, visited me personally both in the chamber and outside the chamber. So, I feel it is necessary for me to make my position clear so that some of these questions people are asking can be resolved”.

Speaking further, the Delta North Senator-Elect said: “Now this is my personal position. When I believe in a cause, I would always work to advance that cause. For the Senate presidency, I have made it clear to my friends that I will support Sen. Ahmad Lawan for the presidency of the 9th Senate,” he said, adding that his decision was informed by Senator Lawan’s competence and experience, as well as what Nwaoboshi described as his intelligence and ability to carry others along irrespective of party
affiliation or ethnicity.

“It is for the following reasons that I am backing him. I have found out that Sen. Lawan has been in the National Assembly for the past 20 years and as such he has gathered a lot of legislative experience both from the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

“The president of the senate is the chairman of the national assembly and someone who ought to understand the workings of both chambers and Lawan has experience from both chambers. Also as a leader, I have found competence and intelligence in him. He also appreciates the views of others and he listens to sound arguments. Any leader who is going to preside in that chamber must be able to accommodate other persons and must be intelligent.

Setting the records straight, Senator Nwaoboshi stressed thus: “Make no mistakes about it, I never supported him (Lawan) as Senate President, when he was put forward by his party the APC, in the 8th senate and I had my reasons. But now, I also believe that in this one I am making a good choice in supporting him,” he said.

While cautioning the APC against unguarded statements that might affect the goodwill the senators-elect had for Lawan, Nwaobosh pointedly noted that it was the prerogative of the Senators to choose their leaders, even as he stressed that the legislature had its mechanism for choosing and removing its principal officers, advising further that rather than
handing down instructions, stakeholders ought to consult with the lawmakers to be in order to achieve their objectives in the emergence of their favoured candidates.

“I must give kudos to the APC Deputy Chairman, North, Distinguished Sen. Shuaibu. He made a statement that is
consoling and acceptable, by saying that leadership must consult and negotiate and not
sit in your house and say it must be this person or that person. Nobody is a child and that is why you see that even those who supported Lawan initially, are
withdrawing especially within my party PDP. In as much as we
agree that whoever is going to be senate president will come
from your party APC, it is not for you to tell us it is this person or else, he will never have anything to do with us.

“That is not statesmanly. We are going to choose our leader and
when we find out that the person is no longer serving the Nigerian people, we have our own mechanism. The senate is made up of men who have distinguished themselves in their various careers. So you do of sit in your office or in your high heaven and dictate to them who is going to be their leader,” he cautioned emphatically.

Disclosing further, Nwaoboshi hinted that: “The PDP has not taken a decision as a political party as far as the presiding officers of the 9th Senate are concerned. Our party has not also told us the candidate we should vote for.

“I know the PDP leaders will not say this is the candidate they want. They would only give us a guideline. I also have a right as the representative of my people to determine what is good for the Anioma people.

“I am a loyal PDP man. I have not left the PDP and it is not part of my agenda to do so. However, regarding the leadership of the 9th Senate, I know my people would be happy with my choice of Lawan. My people know what they benefitted from the support that I gave the incumbent Senate President. I can make a choice on my people’s behalf because I have lived among them over the years.

“Most of the resistance that people are seeing especially in my own party is not because someone is questioning Lawan’s competence or that he does not have the experience or intelligence. The senate should be left to choose their leader,” he said unequivocally.

Addressing his legal triumph at the Appeal Court and the success of his challenge against the Federal High Court ruling that overturned his mandate as Delta North Senator-Elect, Nwaoboshi said he had been confident of winning and reclaiming his mandate because he had faith in the Judiciary to give him justice.

“I knew that the judgement of the Federal High Court will not stand,” Nwaobishi declared with conviction.

He equally dismissed insinuations that his challenger at the Appeal Court, Ned Nwoko, would present the Certificate of Return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to be inaugurated as Senator, on June 11, when the 9th Senate is expected to be inaugurated.

“Once the election has been declared and the certificate of return issued to the winner, it is only the highest court in the land that can order the withdrawal of the certificate. I have my certificate of return. Nobody has withdrawn it. What was issued to Ned Nwoko was a piece of paper and not a certificate of return. I was the one that contested the election having been declared winner in the primaries,” he said.

Senator Nwaoboshi then assured that he was also sure of victory, should the matter go up to the Supreme Court, as his Challenger had reportedly vowed to do.

“I will meet them at the Supreme Court, if they decide to go all the way. We are fully ready and prepared for them,” Senator Nwaoboshi declared confidently.

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