You were one of the senators at the ICC when the leadership contest started in the National Assembly?
Honestly speaking, it was on the morning of that day that I saw a text message that we should go to the ICC, unfortunately for me I had so many people who came from Kano, so I was trying to receive them when I got a call that members and senators were waiting at the ICC. As I was moving out of Hilton Hotel, somebody called again that they were at the National Assembly and were just about to start election. So I diverted the driver, instead of going to the ICC I thought now that election was taking place, I said instead of going to ICC, it was more important for me to go the National Assembly and in any case I was sure that those who were at the ICC will not want to stay there when election was taking place. So I drove straight to the National Assembly, moved straight to the chamber. It was when I entered that I saw Bukola being sworn in as Senate President. So I wasn’t at the ICC, I was at the National Assembly but I arrived after the election and I was there calling them to come unfortunately they didn’t come so I had to follow them to ICC and other places. That was what happened that day.
Did the president summon that meeting?
Nobody told me but I saw a text message that we were going to be addressed by the President but the message did not come from the President himself but from the officials of the party.
Did you suspect mischief by the party leaders?
You see I told you the party missed some vital steps and gave ample opportunity to the Bukola group and they used it effectively using all the advantages that had to do with the mistakes of our leaders.
There are other groups of senators who believe that Bukola had given them so many things, they believe he supported them in the party, maybe he had taken advantage of some supporters of the party who channelled a lot of support through him and many senators believe they were supported by him and therefore went all out to support him.
I think all these things were not taken into consideration by the party leaders. There were many other senators and members that very much believe that the consultation between them and the party was not good enough, that the party could have done more in terms of the relationship in terms of closeness and even in terms of letting them know precisely the direction of the party. Some of these things are correctable like making consultations with members of the National Assembly etc.
I’m sure you know that I’m in the group of Ahmad Lawan and Akume, but before then I was one of the supporters of Akume because under normal circumstances he should get the seat, he is the natural owner of the seat for many obvious reasons.
One he is probably the most senior among all of them, he was the minority leader and I have not heard anybody pass a vote of no confidence on him and now that the party is the majority party, under normal circumstances he should have been Senate President and his state did very well for the party and all these put together qualify him to be the Senate president.
I supported him from the beginning but when the decision was made by some other people that two of them should come together, in fact he called me 4 a.m. one day, I was in Kano, he said this was what was happening in Abuja; what is my opinion because he doesn’t want to do anything that will go against our collective interest.
It is sad that they didn’t get it because under normal circumstances all members of our party should toe the party line that is how it should. But here we are with the situation where party is on one side and some members of the party are on the other side.
So are you saying the party is divided?
Well I think the party unfortunately is divided but it is not too late to correct many things but the party should take certain steps to ensure such things do not happen again.
I am one of those who advised Bukola that he shouldn’t go too far with that ambition under the circumstances. At his level people should be more careful and cautious in what they do and what they don’t do especially as the situation is even worse than the case of Tambuwal because during the 2011 elections, the Tambuwal case was a case of going out of the zoning but all the positions went to the members of the party but this time because of the ambition of these members of our party, they went and connived with people who are not only opponents nut enemies of the party to fight the party after the people of this country have discarded these people. Now because of ambition, these people were made relevant. I don’t think that is the best way to go.
Members of the party should have limitations, they should know where to start and stop, I think this is going too far romancing members of the PDP, as far as we are concerned PDP was dead, until recently when ambition brought certain people to do what they should not do in a democracy and party politics and now we are about to create another line for them to the extent that some of them are surfacing again and making all sorts of statements.
Just yesterday I was reading Ekweremadu talking rubbish
saying they have reasons to speak again and I think this has to do with the mistake of our own members. I believe at the end of the day the party members must get a way of coming together and behave well. I think that is the only way we can make progress.
Some have justified Ekweremadu’s emergence as compensation for the South-East?
There are ways the APC can carry the South-east by way of appointment. I’m sure our party had it in mind to carry the South-east but not with the position of the Senate president. That position doesn’t belong to the PDP and that is the mistake Ekweremadu is making, he said he was elected deputy senate president yet he reduced himself to a zone and to a tribe which is not good enough.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and so, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC seems to be learning almost every day.
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso was dressed in a flowing white gown with the red Kwankwansiya cap to match this past Monday evening. His posture was far from a rattle snake about to limp for prey as he sat down to a session with newsmen in his Maitama Abuja residence.
However, after about an 80 minute session with newsmen that evening, he had sufficiently rattled his party in a way only a rattle snake could have done on a prey. The APC was, however, not Kwankwanso’s immediate prey that evening.
“It is sad that the party did not get it right; it is unfortunate and I can tell you categorically that the party is divided, but it is not too late to correct many things and that is what I think the party should be doing right now”.
The president of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu were the immediate preys of Senator Kwankwanso who warned Saraki not to destroy their party, with his alleged ambitions.
Senator Kwankwanso did not hide his objection to the emergence of Saraki as the President of the Senate and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Indeed, in the perspective of a key associate of Dogara, Senator Kwakwanso did more damage more than anyone else to stop the emergence of Dogara as speaker and it was said that if not for him, Dogara and as such, Saraki would have easily emerged as speaker.
When the former governor cautioned Saraki about his ambition, it inevitably brought to fore the flowing issue of the 2019 ambitions of the separate leaders of the APC which their critics in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP had for long argued would be the ruin of the new ruling party.
Saraki’s alleged 2019 presidential ambition, as has been generally reported, was the basis of the opposition several party leaders had against his emergence. Kwankwanso who teamed up with the Bola Tinubu camp in opposing Saraki’s Senate Presidency quest is also reported to be interested in the 2019 pie having been deputy speaker, governor, minister and now, senator.
Remarkably, Kwankwanso and Saraki were central leaders of the G7 or new Peoples Democratic Party, PDP group who left the then ruling party in November 2013.
In his session with newsmen, an emboldened Kwankwanso who probably only defers to President Olusegun Obasanjo, confessed that he supported Senator George Akume in the Senate leadership contest and switched on to Senator Ahmad Lawan when Akume stepped down for Lawan.
His reason for supporting Akume ahead of his fellow nPDP co-leader some said was simply in view of 2019 given that Akume is not in the permutations for the presidency.
If Kwankwanso was restrained in his vituperations against Saraki, the outbursts the same day, of the deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Comrade Timi Frank against the national chairman and working committee simply went overboard.
Frank, in another session with newsmen in Abuja demanded the resignation of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as national chairman. He even took on the party icon and his immediate boss,, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, charging him with misdemeanour in the discharge of his duties. Those who contacted Mohammed on the issue said the party spokesman was in a state of shock over the issue.
Noting that his party was slacking in its promise of change, Frank said faulted the party’s decision to present a set of nominees for the National Assembly leadership contests saying that the decision of the leadership had shown the party to be out of touch with its base.
“If my party could not keep to the promise of change, then we must correct them to keep to that. I have no fear or favour than to say that the current leadership of the party has practically failed. With this incident alone, the chairman should resign from his position after taking a position against the people and the people’s position has finally come to stay.
“In the Western world, by today the party’s national chairman would have resigned honourably. Not just the national chairman but the entire leadership that took this decision of conducting mock election against the outcry of the larger members of the party. Against the bigger picture of Nigerians. A hand-full of the party leadership came to take a decision, and by today the people have shown that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
“You could see the way the party including the national chairman was speaking before the NASS leadership elections; it showed clearly that the chairman had totally taken sides which wasn’t meant to be. I understand, he took some of those decisions based on pressure. In this century, APC as a party does not need a chairman that will be under pressure.
“And the party’s national chairman caused it because times without number some leaders told him to come up with a zoning formula from the beginning. He was asked to take a decision and let people follow that but he didn’t do that. They were playing hide and seek with the issue until the last minute when they saw the danger, and they wanted to play hanky-panky, which led us to lose one position at the Senate.”
Frank’s call immediately echoed the sound of war from the leadership contest. Frank is a well known associate of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and even though he didn’t claim to be speaking on his behalf, few would doubt that he resounded the opinion of Atiku on the National Assembly leadership contest.
Atiku had backed Saraki and Dogara against the desire of Kwankwanso, Tinubu and others and the reason was easily because the duo did not back his own presidential aspiration last year.
There is also the growing perception that Atiku has joined the school of thought which believes that Tinubu’s wings in the party should be clipped.
It was as such not surprising that his Man Friday, Frank in the same outburst questioned the alleged claim by his party boss, Lai Mohammed that President Muhammadu Buhari is not the party leader.
“Let’s go back and ask Lai Mohammed who the leader of the party is. If he does not recognise the president as the leader. In my own view, If Lai Mohammed that is my direct boss could come up to tell Nigerians that the president is only a product of the party and not the national leader of the party, then he should have been able to tell us who the leader of the party is.
“We have seen that even in then PDP, former President Goodluck Jonathan was the leader of the party. If in our own case the President cannot be the leader of the party, he should tell us who the leader is then,” Frank averred.
Against the call by the likes of Kwankwanso that Ekweremadu should resign his position as Deputy Senate President, Frank dug in saying, “those that are calling for the deputy senate president to resign are anti-people, and I will campaign against it. I will continue to support Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu and every progressive Nigerian should support this mission as it will take Nigeria to the next phase because failure to do this will disrupt democracy.”
The Pro-Ahmad Lawan senators under the aegis of the Senate Unity Forum had on Saturday demanded the immediate resignation of Ekweremadu, as part of conditions that would make them recognise Senator Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate.
The spokesperson for the group, Senator Kabir Marafa, told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that his colleagues had nothing personal against the deputy senate president but that he was not properly elected since he got 54 votes against 55, being the simple majority.
But some members of the PDP senators, who nominated and voted for Ekweremadu on June 9, have vowed to resist any unconstitutional or illegal means by the APC senators to remove their member as a principal officer.
In her reaction, the PDP member representing Ekiti-South Senatorial District, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, said since the senators in attendance on the day of inauguration had overwhelmingly voted for Ekweremadu, “no back-door arrangement could remove him.”
She challenged the aggrieved APC senators to either go to court or initiate an impeachment moves if they wanted to sack the deputy senate president.
Olujimi said, “The APC senators should stop making such demands, because it is an effort in futility. How do they think that they could ask someone who won an election overwhelmingly among his colleagues to resign in order to satisfy some interests within their party?
“They should not say that at all. The Nigerian senators have chosen their leaders. If they have any issue within their party, they should go and sort themselves out or go to court. Better still, they can start impeachment process, if they think they have the figure.
“Nobody will resign, Senator Ekweremadu was duly elected and he won’t resign. He cannot resign”
Also, another PDP member representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ighoyota Amori, told our correspondent on Sunday that those calling for Ekweremadu’s resignation were allegedly ignorant of the Senate Rules.
He said they could only remove the deputy senate president with a two-third majority vote during an impeachment process.
Amori argued that the Clerk of the National Assembly and his team who conducted the election would have postponed it if they were not satisfied and convinced that the members’ attendance met constitutional provisions for the poll.
He also advised the APC senators to seek legal redress if they were sure that Ekweremadu was not legitimately elected.
He said, “The election of Senator Ekweremadu followed all constitutional provisions and procedures. He is duly elected and there is no issue of illegitimacy at all. They should go and read their rules very well.”
Aggrieved APC senators, on Saturday, demanded for the immediate resignation of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
The senators, who are loyal to Senator Ahmad Lawan, the party’s candidate for the Senate presidency, insisted that Ekweremadu’s resignation was one of the conditions that would make the faction to recognise Senator Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate.
The aggrieved lawmakers, under the auspices of the Senate Unity Forum, however, stated that they had nothing personal against Saraki and Ekweremadu.
APC senators had been divided over the leadership of the National Assembly since the controversial elections. The ruling party had chosen Lawan for the Senate presidency and Femi Gbajabiamila as its candidate for the House of Representatives’ speakership in the aftermath of a mock intra-party election conducted on June 6.
But Saraki and Yakubu Dogara had defied the ruling party, allied with the opposition parties, and emerged as the heads of the upper and lower chambers, respectively.
The alliance had led to the return of Ekweremadu, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, as the Deputy Senate President, the position he held in the last administration.
Initially, the APC had rejected the result of the election, insisting that Saraki, Dogara and their supporters would be sanctioned for defying the position of the party. But a few days later, the National Chairman of the the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said the party had accepted Saraki as the President of the Senate. “Of course, he (Sakari) has been duly elected by his colleagues. We have a reality and we must live with it,” he said.
However, the spokesperson of the SUF, Senator Kabir Marafa, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday night, said the pro-Saraki senators must explain why they disregarded all the arrangements put in place by the leaders of the APC to produce consensus candidates for post of Senate President and Deputy Senate President.
The senator called for thorough investigations into why the Clerk of the National Assembly was in a hurry to conduct the election of the senate president and the deputy without following the normal procedure as contained in the Senate Standing Order.
He said, “We demand that Senator Ike Ekweremadu must resign his position because he needed at least 55 senators to emerge as deputy senate president. Ekweremadu is a lawyer and an experienced lawmaker. He knows he is not qualified to win the election with 54 votes.”
Marafa further said the pro-Saraki lawmakers should tell the party leadership why they rushed to the chamber on June 9 and hurriedly conducted the election, while the rest of the APC lawmakers were at the International Conference Centre, expecting the arrival of President Mohammadu Buhari.
The leadership of the APC had called a truce meeting with all lawmakers on its platform at the ICC for 9am ahead of the 10am scheduled for the inauguration of the eighth assembly.
Marafa further said, “Our colleagues, the Like Minds Senators, on three occasions failed to honour the directive of the party for an arrangement to produce consensus candidates for the senate president and deputy senate president.
“They refused to take part in the mock election when 35 APC senators elected Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume as the party’s consensus candidates for the two top positions in the Senate.
“They also refused to honour the invitation extended to all of us to attend a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on June 8, and another meeting called by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 9.”
Similarly, another prominent member of the Senate Unity Forum from the South-West, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the requests of the group had been forwarded to the party leadership.
He said, “The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, was not properly elected. He requires a simple majority vote of 55 to win the election but he got 54, so he did not win and we cannot recognise him. We refuse to. Our party has asked us not to talk to the press but we will not keep quiet internally.
“Apart from Ekeweremadu resigning, we are also demanding thorough investigations into the decision of the Clerk of the National Assembly to conduct the election when he was aware that the President had summoned us to a meeting.”
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Ekweremadu, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, declined comments, when contacted on the telephone on Saturday to respond to the demands of the Unity Forum.
He said, “I don’t want to react to the issue.”
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Abdullahi Jalo, however objected to the demands of the pro-Lawan senators. According to Jalo, Ekweremadu would remain deputy senate president.
“To ask distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu to relinquish a mandate freely given to him by his colleagues, will be a disservice not only to the Senate but to this country. What everybody should be concerned about now, is how to move forward because the issue of election in the Senate has come and gone.
“Remember, it is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it belongs to all Nigerian Senators who are duly elected.”
The opposition party said its doors are open to defectors in the National Assembly.
The APC had chosen Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila to run for Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively. Bukola Saraki and Dogara, however, moved against the party’s decision.
With the backing of members of the PDP and other opposition parties, the duo emerged winners in the National Assembly leadership election held on Tuesday.
Consequently, there have been fears that the APC might punish the rebel lawmakers.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary, PDP, Abdullahi Jalo, said the party was ready to accept Saraki, Dogara and their supporters in the National Assembly back to its fold.
Saraki was one of the leaders of a breakaway faction of the PDP known as the New PDP, which later merged with the APC.
Jalo stated that the PDP would continue to run a party that allows every Nigerian to join it whenever such individual wanted to. According to him, there is no absolute proviso preventing defection from one party to another.
He said, “Any politician is entitled to join any political party that he so desires to join. The PDP is for everyone. We don’t quarrel with anybody. We are still soliciting for more acceptability.
“The PDP is open to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (former Governor of Lagos State and national leader, APC); Bisi Akande (former Governor of Osun State and ex-National Chairman, APC, Chief) and any other persons in the ruling APC.
“The PDP is large enough to accommodate many people of diverse backgrounds. That is why we remain the largest party in Africa. We are never going to stop anybody from leaving or victimise them after they have left.
“The former Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal (now Governor of Sokoto State) left and the party did not sanction him, unlike the APC that is threatening Saraki with sanctions.”
A source in the PDP, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, however, told one of our correspondents that some prominent politicians in the APC had begun talks with the PDP in view of the 2019 presidential election.
“In the APC, we have people who have signified their interest in the 2019 presidential election. They will come when the time is appropriate and we will accommodate them,” the source said.
A former Minister of Aviation and Director of Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, said he was delighted about Saraki’s senate presidency, with Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP as his deputy.
“It is evident that the PDP is on the rise again,” he added.
He, said the PDP would love to have the APC lawmakers, stressing that “politics is a game of number and as far as I am concerned, PDP’s doors are always wide open for anybody who wants to come and join. The more the merrier.”
A former Minister of Transport and member of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, Ebenezer Babatope, also described Sakari’s emergence as Senate President as a “very good and positive development” for Nigerian’s democracy.
He pointed out that having an APC senator as the senate president and PDP as the deputy would strengthen Nigerian democracy, and remove as parochialism from partisan politics in the country.
Babatope said, “Don’t forget, we have a good number in the Senate. PDP senators are 49 out of 109; that is a very strong number. There is no way APC will not rely on the PDP members to have effective results in the Senate.
“What happened was that Bukola Saraki consulted all of them. If Lawan had contested with Bukola Saraki, on the floor of the Senate, Lawan would have lost because the 49 PDP senators would have voted for Saraki. Saraki had 57 votes and 49 of them came from the PDP.”
He said that given another opportunity, the people will vote in the same manner.
Speaking on arrival at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, where a mamoth crowd of supporters and political allies gathered to receive him, Ekweremadu stated that he decided to take another shot at the position of Deputy Senate President when it appeared the people of the South-East were about to be sidelined in the new dispensation.
He advised the APC administration of President Muhamadu Buhari to accommodate all Nigerians irrespective of party and ethnic inclination.
“We have no regret. Igbos have no regret for the way they voted; if they have the opportunity tomorrow, they will do it again. We are convinced we voted rightly, and because we believe we are part and parcel of this country, we believe what we got is within our right. So we expect that APC should be able to accommodate the people of South-South as they form their government, because don’t forget that Buhari got about 15 million votes; we have more than 150 million Nigerians, so he is not the President of 15 million people; the rest of the people must be accommodated,”Ekweremadu said.
“In fact, that was why when we saw that it appears that South-East and South-South were being marginalised in the scheme of things, we decided to take a shot so that our people will be part and parcel of government, so that every part of Nigeria will have a sense of belonging”.
Investigations on Friday revealed that the battle between the two power blocs to control the party: one led by Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and the other led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, played out during Tuesday’s National Assembly leadership elections.
The ruling party’s preferred candidates in both the Senate and the House of Representatives were defeated by party members who contested the elections against the wishes of the party.
The battle for supremacy between the two power blocs led to the emergence of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Ike Ekweremadu, as the Deputy Senate President.
Both Atiku and Tinubu were desperate to have maximum control over the party structure so that party decisions could favour them at all times.
It was learnt that the two blocs wanted their candidates to emerge principal officers of the National Assembly since that would automatically qualify their candidates to become members of the party’s National Executive Committee, which is the highest decision arm of the party.
Senator Bukola Saraki emerged the President of the Senate at a time when leading figures of the party including Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and APC Senators as well as members of the House of Representatives were waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari at the International Conference Centre for a crucial meeting.
The party’s NWC earlier held a shadow election in which Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume emerged as the party’s candidates for Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.
But, Atiku was never in support of the mock election believed to be spearheaded by the APC national leader as the former Vice President was bent on breaking Tinubu’s influence on the party’s NWC.
As things stand, most of the current members of the APC’s National Working Committee are Tinubu’s loyalists.
With the outcome of the National Assembly leadership elections, there are strong indications that the Tinubu camp, which many agree, boasts of the likes of Lawan and Akume are not prepared to let the matter rest.
Sources said the Tinubu camp, though still jolted by its initial ‘defeat’ would likely spring a surprise in the days ahead.
It was gathered that members of the Senators Unity Forum, who supported the party’s candidates are queuing behind Tinubu and are likely to continue to do so in the days to come.
It was learnt that in supporting the aspirations of Saraki and Dogara, Atiku had argued that democracy could better be served when the principle of internal democracy is respected.
It was further learnt that Saraki’s publicised visit to Atiku’s residence a few hours after his emergence, was part of the power play.
By virtue of their new positions as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Saraki and Dogara, have become automatic members of the National Executive Committee, the highest decision making body of the party.
Their positions also confer on them automatic membership of the party’s Board of Trustees and National Executive Committee.
A leading member of the party’s NWC, explained that the unfolding scenario is likely to open up new frontiers in the power struggle within the party.
According to him, decisions at NEC from now on will be keenly contested by the two power blocs.
The outcome of the National Assembly elections would likely affect decisions to be taken on ministerial nominees as some of the candidates in Tinubu’s camp may be rejected during screening by the Saraki/Atiku group.
He said, “It is obvious that with what happened on Tuesday at the National Assembly, two (dominant) power blocks have emerged in the party.
“We hope to heal the wounds created by the contests, but there is mutual suspicion between the two groups.”
When contacted, the Director-General of the Atiku Media Office, Mazi Paul Ibe, said, “Atiku did not orchestrate the emergence of the new leadership in the National Assembly and insinuating that amounts to nothing but political mischief, as he had refused to leave the party or work for the PDP even when the then President Jonathan was desperate for Atiku’s support.
“The visits of politicians and APC leaders including that of the Senate President are common political rituals in Atiku’s Asokoro residence. For the purposes of emphasis, the President has confidence in him and that explains why he had drafted him as an envoy of sorts in the race leading up to the emergence of a Nigerian President of African Development Bank.
“It is baseless and unfounded to suggest that Atiku conspired with the PDP or Saraki to ‘sabotage’ the APC. He would have congratulated Senator Ahmed Lawan (or any other leader) if he had won. It is simplistic to attribute conspiratorial agenda to an innocuous congratulatory visit.
“Atiku’s loyalty to his party is indisputable. He remains a loyal party member. He, in fact, threw his political assets behind the Buhari presidential campaign. Any suggestion that he conspired with Saraki or anybody is the figment of someone’s imagination.”
Attempts to get a reaction from Tinubu’s Spokesperson, Mr. Sunday Dare, were unsuccessful.
Calls to his mobile phone at 5:21pm and at 7:14pm were neither picked nor returned. A response to a text message was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report at 7:24pm.
But, a member of Saraki’s Like Minds group of Senators, Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South), said Saraki’s emergence, has no negative implication for party cohesion.
He said, “We are already reaching out to everyone. At the leadership level, we are reaching out to individuals.
“The Senate President is a very generous Nigerian with a very large heart. He has already extended his hands of fellowship to every senator and he has assured us all that he would carry everybody along. It is not going to be a case of winner-takes-all.”
Also, a member of the Senate Unity Forum, Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central), said the party leadership is currently working tirelessly to ensure that the party remains a formidable and united entity.
The South East Zonal Spokesperson for the APC, Osita Okechukwu, said the party was seeking ways of moving forward.
According to him, it will be futile to begin to apportion blame and look for scapegoats because doing so will provide an avenue for those who do not wish the APC well to cash in.
He said party leaders deserve the respect of all party members, adding that if the wise counsel of President Muhammadu Buhari for non-interference in National Assembly issues was adhered to, the party would not have found itself in this situation. He, however, said it was time to move on.
Okechukwu said, “It is the desire of our opponents for there to be a rift but there is no rift. As a party, the only thing we need now, more than ever before, is unity.
“We need to unite especially in the National Assembly to be able to deliver on our promises to the Nigerian people. I dare say, we also need bi-partisan support if we are to get things done because we need each other.”
Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was APC’s choice of House of Reps Speaker, says he’s accepted defeat of the election that held this past Tuesday. More tweets after the cut…
“I will never recognize such a kangaroo arrangement that produced Bukola as the Senate President. Or how do you want me to recognise a man who deliberately defied his own party because of his personal interest? It is not done anywhere. Therefore, recognizing Bukola as the Senate President after all he had done to our party today, having gone against the wish and pattern of our great party, honestly will amount to endorsing impunity, and which you should all know I will not.
For me to recognize Senator Bukola as the Senate President, he must show remorse for today’s action. He had earlier promised to defy the party and the deed has been done. You don’t do that in politics. Personal interest must not override that of the party that beget you. It’s a spoken and silent rule of the game, which all and sundry must abide with. I’m not God, but as far as this party is concerned, I’m a leader and I know what is good for the party at the appropriate time. Speaking now is not for the party, but for myself. I cannot recognize Bukola as the Senate President.” he said
Sources within the APC said Atiku colluded with Senator Bukola Saraki to undermine the will of the party while Tambuwal, who is the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, supported Yakubu Dogara who emerged as Tambuwal’s successor.
The suspicion of the APC leadership was reignited by the fact that Atiku was the first person Saraki visited after emerging as Senate President on Monday, apparently to thank Atiku.
A reliable source within the party said the party was aware of moves by the Peoples Democratic Party to secure principal offices in the National Assembly over a month ago and that was why the party selected staunch APC members – Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila – as its candidates for Senate President and Speaker respectively.
The source said the APC knew that the PDP would approach its old members to actualise this plan. Both Saraki and Dogara defected to the APC from the PDP.
The source said, “We started keeping tabs on Atiku in January when he showed that he was not interested in the success of President Muhammadu Buhari when Buhari was our presidential candidate. Our fears were reignited when the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, paid Atiku a visit shortly before the elections.
“A large section of Atiku’s supporters defected to the PDP a day after that meeting with Jonathan and that was why Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Rufai Alkali, said shortly after that meeting that Atiku would soon return to the PDP. Atiku even admitted himself that he did not attend Buhari’s rallies.
“Don’t you find it curious that the first person that Saraki visited after emerging as Senate President was Atiku? We have information that Atiku told his supporters in the Senate to vote for Saraki and that was what happened. We know that Atiku is still nursing a presidential ambition for 2019 and he is now beginning to build blocks.”
The source said the APC had evidence that Tambuwal supported Dogara so that he (Tambuwal) could retain his influence over the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
He said Tambuwal ensured that Dogara emerged the Chairman, House Services Committee, which is the most influential committee in the House because of his closeness to Dogara.
He said, “Tambuwal is also nursing a presidential ambition and needs to retain control over the House. He will not be able to retain such influence if Gbajabiamila is the Speaker.”
When contacted, the media aide to Tambuwal, Mallam Imam Imam, said he had no comment over the issue.
Also, a text message to an aide of Atiku was neither acknowledged nor replied.
APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, said the emergence of Saraki and Dogara was unacceptable to the party and that the party would mete out appropriate sanctions against erring members.