NASS Leadership: APC At War With Self | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NASS Leadership: APC At War With Self

Posted: Jun 8, 2015 at 12:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Temidayo Akinsuyi, Augustine Adah, Lagos and Ignatius Okorocha (Abuja)

If the All Progressives Congress (APC) ever imagined that its plan to open up the contest for the nation’s number three and four offices would be rancour free, it may have realized otherwise, going by events that played out at its mock elections to decide consensus candidates for Senate Presidency and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Gbajabiamila

Gbajabiamila

At the end of the mock elections to ensure that tomorrow’s real elections of the principal officers would be seamless, the opponents either did not show up, or stormed out of the venue, thereby despising members of the National Working Committee (NWC) who were gathered to oversee the process. Many see this as a replay of events that led to the emergence of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Speaker in a similar contest, defeating the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Mulikat Akande, a member from Oyo State in 2011. At the time, nothing happened to Tambuwal, who enjoyed the support of the then opposition parties for victory, leaving the PDP to leak its wound.

The mock contest for the Reps, nonetheless held on Saturday afternoon, producing Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos) with 154 votes, leaving Yakubu Dogara with three votes and four were voided. Attendance register at the event was signed by 183 members out of the 213 members elected on the platform of the party. A total of 30 members did not show up at the venue, while Dogara stormed out of the venue with 21 of his supporters before the exercise ended. Mohammed Monguno who stepped down to run as Deputy to Gbajabiamila was returned unopposed, even as he polled 153 votes.

The mock exercise for the Senate Presidency was not very different, producing Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State as the sole candidate of the party. His main contender and former Governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki, boycotted the mock ballot, in what may be setting the stage for an imminent implosion of the young ruling party.

At the end of voting, 32 were for Lawan out of 33, while 31 voted for Akume for Deputy.

Reacting to Lawan’s emergence the Saraki group, led by Dino Melaye, a Senator-elect from Kogi and Rufai Ahmad Sani Yerima ( Zamfara West), described the exercise as unconstitutional.

In a statement, Melaye said its group, the “Like Minds, will participate only in the constitutional election scheduled for Tuesday, the 9th of June 2015 in line with the rules of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The group insisted that the outcome of the primary election has no binding effect on Saraki’s aspiration and that he would contest against Ahmad Lawan on the floor tomorrow morning, especially with 65 senators across party lines on his side.

“As responsible citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria, and leaders in our own right, we have resolved and hereby state that we shall not be part of a process that promotes undemocratic electoral process that may resort to rancorous and uncivil situations which inhibits the rights of individuals to vote for the candidate of their choice, as this process will further divide us than unite members of our party.”

There are those who believe that if Saraki truly has 65 Senators backing his ambition is, it would be foolhardy for the leadership of APC to think of imposing its wish on the upper chamber tomorrow.

Commenting, former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja Branch, Onyekachi Ubani, described the current effort as a litmus test for the APC.

He urged the party to handle the matter cautiously, because “it is too early for the party to start having crisis.”

On the possibility of implosion, Ubani said everything depends on the party’s ability to handle the election of principal officers of the National Assembly, its first challenge after the victory.

“Many people predicted that the party would not survive merger but it did, during the primaries many thought the party would not be together after the primaries but it did. So, it is difficult for anybody to conclude that the party is on it way to implosion.”

However, to stave off embarrassment from its aggrieved members, the APC said in a statement on Sunday it has started reaching out to the stakeholders.

The statement by the National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, agreed that it is natural for some members to be disappointed by the outcome of the straw poll conducted to select the party’s official candidates for the positions.

Buni urged all to “put the interest of our party above personal interests and avoid a situation whereby any other candidates, apart from those picked by the party, will emerge as Senate President and House Speaker on Tuesday.

“Any outstanding issues will be resolved by the party so we won’t go into Tuesday’s election with more than one candidate each for the two posts, Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, he said.

For him, it would be a shame if, despite its majority in both chambers of the National Assembly, the APC is unable to produce a Senate President and a House Speaker of its choice.

The party explained that its role in the entire business of ensuring a common front, ahead of tomorrow’s election is that of an honest broker, saying its goal of ensuring that the party does not go into the election with more than one candidate for each position has now been achieved.

The party appealed to all aggrieved members to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign, in the overall interest of not just the APC but the entire nation.

There are those who argue that Saraki’s emergence would mean the Senate Presidency staying in the North Central zone for a record third consecutive time, with the last holder, David Mark being from the neighbouring Benue State.

Whether the aggrieved legislators would yield to party supremacy, or not, thereby plunging it into an early morning crisis would become evident in only a matter of hours.