Contrary to the widely held notion that the All Progressives Congress, (APC), willingly ceded the Senate Presidency to the South, facts have emerged that the Vice President, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, saved the country from having a Muslim Senate President.
It was learnt that before the APC finally settled for the South for the Senate President, some returning Senators from the South-West had sold the candidacy of Senator Jubrin Barau from Kano State to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Three senators from Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti respectively, had met with President Bola Tinubu and convinced him on why Senator Jubril Barau was the man to work with. That was considering the role the former Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje played in the election of Tinubu and Shettima. But competent sources said Shettima’s intervention and pan-Nigerian superior argument that such action would negatively affect national cohesion on religious grounds, saved the day.
He argued that having a northern Muslim as the Senate President in a country where the President and Vice President are Mus- President Bola Tinubu exchanging pleasantries with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, at the ongoing G-20 Summit being concluded today lims would amount to gross insensitivity to the country’s religious diversity. By doing so, it opened the way for the South.
A chieftain of the APC, who was in the know of the plot, told Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity that the three Senators, feeling that they had convinced Tinubu on the matter, made a dash to Shettima’s house and informed him of their plans. The Vice President was said to have asked them if they had informed the President about the plan, which they answered in the affirmative.
Shettima told them to give him time to reflect on it. Said the Source:“As soon as they left, Shettima put a call to Tinubu, requesting to see him that night. He went to Tinubu’s house and explained to him the dangerous implications of having a Muslim as the Senate President. The two leaders spent about one hour on the matter, with Shettima reminding Tinubu that God would not be happy if such an injustice was done.
“He told Tinubu that being a Yoruba Muslim, he was a minority as he (Shettima) was a minority in the North, being a Kanuri, and electing a Muslim as Senate President would be insensitive to the nation’s religious diversity and sensibilities.” It was gathered that after the meeting that night, Tinubu phoned Shettima the following morning, asking him to come and see him.
The president asked Shettima if he had anybody in mind from the South to which the Vice President answered in the negative but told the president “to pick anybody from the South-East or South-South as the Senate President.” He was quoted to have told the President that, “If I have anybody in mind, it would mean that is the purpose of my argument. It is your discretion to pick anybody you wish but not a Muslim.”
At that point, Tinubu agreed with him and informed him that the party would adhere to that position. It was learnt that the three senators, on realizing the new stance of the President, which was made known to the party, went back to work and suggested Senator Godswill Akpabio as the man for the job. That was accepted by both Tinubu and Shettima and was consequently sold to the party.
That was why the former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari could not win the race against Akpabio. It was further learnt that the decision of a former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, to distance himself from the Tinubu’s government was after failed meetings between the duo, soon after Tinubu won the election.
According to our sources, Tinubu and Amaechi had met initially with the President promising to get back to Amaechi, but the former was miffed by the President’s romance with his successor, Nyesom Wike, who had worked for the President in the 2023 election against his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). A source said Amaechi vowed not to have anything to do with the government of Tinubu, even though he would remain in the APC. It was also gathered that Wike himself is reluctant to cross over to the APC. He reportedly said that he would stay in the PDP with his supporters to battle to the end.