APC Senators Trade Punches Over Leadership Slots | Independent Newspapers Limited
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APC Senators Trade Punches Over Leadership Slots

Posted: Jun 24, 2015 at 1:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dogara Group Rejects Gbajabiamila As House Leader

By Rotimi Akinwunmi and Ignatius Okorocha, Abuja


It was a free for all on Tuesday, as Senators elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to resolve their leadership crisis, despite concerted efforts by President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, to unite the two warring factions.

Saraki had, shortly after the plenary, announced that the APC Senators would meet at his meeting room to sort out the matter.

In his opening remark, he appealed to his colleagues to renew the spirit of love, cooperation and trust in one another.

He assured: “For me, I am ready and desirous, as a colleague, to work with all of you in order to provide that focused leadership in the Senate and National Assembly as an institution.

“The leadership of our party expects us to hit the ground running and the Nigeria populace is waiting to see us in action to deliver on our promises and commitment. Let us start this journey of unity today and let the world see that yes, in the 8th Senate, we are one family”.

Trouble started when Senators loyal to Saraki, under the aegis of the “Like Minds,” insisted that the caucus should adopt zoning to decide who becomes what, but their opponents in the Unity Forum (Ahmad Lawan’s group), vehemently opposed such an arrangement, insisting that the party’s decision on the formation of the senate leadership must be followed.

However, at the meeting, the point was made clear that various positions in the Senate majority leadership had been allocated to geo-political zones and APC Senators from those zones should agree and produce acceptable candidates to fill them.

While the Like Minds Senators insisted on the zoning arrangement, those of the Unity Forum disagreed, insisting that the names nominated by the APC leadership be adhered to.

Majority of Senators had already gathered at the meeting room when those who believed that things were not being done properly betrayed emotions.

It began when Senator Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo) nominated Robert Boroffice, for Majority Whip, a position that had been allocated to Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun).

Investigation by Daily Independent revealed that while the meeting was in progress, a list supposedly arrived from the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The list, which was sent to the office of the Senate President, contained the names of preferred candidates for the remaining principal positions.

They were: Senate Majority Leader (North East-Senator Ahmad Lawan); Deputy Majority Leader (North Central-Senator George Akume); Senate Chief Whip (South West ) Senator Olusola Adeyeye), and Deputy Chief Whip (North West) Senator Abu Ibrahim

Attempts by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi to tell his colleagues that the party position should be followed, fell on deaf ears.

It was not clear what angered Senator Kabir Marafa (Zamfara), who charged towards Ibrahim and pushed him, before some colleagues quickly intervened.

Senator Rafiu Ibrahim told reporters that although his colleagues were not privy to the conversation between the duo, they had to intervene before the situation degenerated.

Daily Independent further learnt that during the meeting with the National Chairman on Monday, Saraki offered Senator Ahmad Lawan the position of Senate Chief Whip. This was rejected.

In the heat of the crisis, Hunkuyi suddenly opened the doors of the room 301 which had been firmly closed for the meeting.

He later explained that the trouble became inevitable because some APC Senators who had benefitted from leadership positions still wanted to forcefully take the remaining slots.

Shortly after the feud, Senator Abu Ibrahim (Katsina) told journalists that the meeting was to reconcile both camps, adding the meeting was for the Senators to “resolve our differences, because we have to work together for the next four years…

“The party has come out with its own position and some people are trying to rush to sabotage the party ‘s position. We will see whether the Senate President will heed the party’s directives.

“There is desire among ourselves that we should put this thing behind us and in every election, they will be fallout and disagreements. So, obviously, what we are doing is a good for Nigerian politics and for the Senate,” he said.

Also, another round of war is set to explode in the House of Representatives between the camps of Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Femi Gbajabiamila, who lost the contest.

The Gbajabiamila camp was angry because of alleged plans to prevent him from becoming Leader of House to compensate for his loss.

Dependable sources in the House told Daily Independent that the Dogara camp wrote the APC national leadership, requesting that the remaining principal offices in the House, namely: Deputy House Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Whip be thrown open to the other four geopolitical zones in the country yet to occupy any principal position rather than allowing the APC caucus to choose them.

According to the letter, the Dogara camp said it would be justifiable to share the four remaining top positions among the North-Central, Northwest, South East and South South, while North East and Southwest, which produced Dogara and Yusuf, be barred from vying for any of the four positions.

However, loyalists of Gbajabiamila are refusing to accept the position of the Speaker, arguing that it was an attempt at scheming out some persons from becoming principal officers of the House.

The group has also written to the National Chairman of APC, Odigie-Oyegun, detailing their own position on the issue.

According to a source in the National Assembly, which was corroborated by another trusted source at the APC National Secretariat, both camps wrote to Odigie-Oyegun on Monday to express their mind on the issue.

Gbajabiamila’s supporters, it was gathered, are insisting that the choice of principal officers is the prerogative of the caucus of the ruling party in the House and, therefore, the APC caucus should be allowed to decide who becomes what and not for the Speaker to decide unilaterally, the zones to present candidates for the office.

Dogara depended majorly on the votes of members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House to emerge Speaker, as the 142 members gave their bloc votes to him in the race for the speakership, giving him a margin of eight votes above that of Gbajabiamila, who won the majority of votes cast by APC members.

Majority of the APC supporters of Gbajabiamila, who are still smarting from the loss of the Speakership position by Gbajabiamila, are spoiling for war, insisting that a meeting of the APC caucus must be convened where a decision would be taken on who and which zones should produce the occupants of the vacant positions which mandatorily must be occupied by APC members.

They are insisting that if a consensus cannot be reached, then they will resort to voting among themselves to decide which zones, or personalities will be given the slots of the principal officers.

However, the inability of the APC to resolve their own issue has become a problem for the PDP caucus in the House as the list of minority leaders, which the party has agreed on, could not be read on the floor of the House yesterday.

The parliament dissolved into executive session yesterday to resolve the logjam, but the members could only agree that the announcement of the list of minority principal officers should be put on hold pending when the list of Principal Officers from the APC, will be ready for disclosure.