The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will meet in Abuja this week to determine who to support as presiding officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
According to a report by Punch newspaper, those expected to be at the meeting are members of the party’s National Working Committee led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus; lawmakers-elect for the ninth National Assembly; outgoing principal officers of the eighth National Assembly who are members of the party and some selected members of the party’s National Executive Council.
Both the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are expected to speak on those aspiring to succeed them.
Confirming the development, spokesperson for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, told Punch newspaper that the meeting would hold within the week.
He said the party’s leadership would meet separately with their members in the Senate and House of Representatives.
He also said the party had not taken any decision on whether there would be sanctions against any member who had already declared support for a particular candidate.
“The party will certainly meet this week and take a decision on whether our elected members of the Ninth National Assembly would be directed to cast their votes for a particular aspirant or be given freedom to vote for any aspirant of their choice.
“We will meet with the PDP caucuses in the Senate and House of Representatives separately because they know the particular aspirant they could work with.
“We have not got(ten) to the level of determining sanctions against our members who have already started identifying with a particular candidate.”
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Nicholas Ossai, told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone, Monday morning that he is not aware of the slated meeting.
He also said if such meetings would hold, “he doesn’t think the party will tell its members who to vote.”
“The party won’t tell us who to vote because we already invited all the aspirants to interview them. They all gave us their manifesto and we have set up a committee to look into it.
“When our committee comes out with their report, we will then decide on the candidate to vote for,” he said.
Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila are major contenders for the position of Senate President and Speaker respectively having emerged as candidates favoured by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, there are other lawmakers who have said they will challenge the decision of the party by contesting the election.
Ali Ndume and Danjuma Goje are two other APC aspirants for the position of senate president, even though the latter has not publicly declared intention.
In the House of Representatives, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Abia), John Dyegh (Benue) Mohammed Bago (Niger), Olatunbosun Olajide (Oyo) and Segun Odebunmi (Oyo) are currently aspiring to succeed Mr Dogara as the Speaker.
As experienced in 2015, the voting pattern of opposition lawmakers is very crucial in the emergence of presiding officers of the Senate.
Even though Messrs Lawan and Gbajabiamila were the favoured candidates of APC in 2015, other party men (Dogara, Saraki), were able to lobby the PDP lawmakers and eventually won.
The duo later decamped to the PDP.
Election of presiding officers of the 9th Senate is expected to hold on June 11.