Saraki, Dogara: Bitter Pills APC Must Swallow | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Saraki, Dogara: Bitter Pills APC Must Swallow

Posted: Jun 25, 2015 at 1:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chesa Chesa, Abuja, and William Igenegbai, Lagos.

With the All Progressives Congress (APC) crisis over the appointment of principal officers of the National Assembly still lingering, it is fast becoming clear that Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are bitter pills the ruling party must swallow willy-nilly.   

But as it was in the days of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), when its governors wielded an enormous influence on the party, and dictated their wishes, the APC seems to be following a similar pattern, if the stance of its governors is anything to go by.

The party’s governors, on Tuesday,  reportedly accused the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, of taking “bribe” from Saraki.

Another alleged sin of Odigie-Oyegun was that while other party leaders were still engaging the camps of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, he, Oyegun, openly endorsed their emergence as National Assembly leaders.

Saraki and Dagari

Saraki and Dagari

Saraki, Dogara and their loyalists have since the inauguration of the National Assembly two weeks ago defied the ruling party’ directives on the selection of leadership of the legislature, a development that is causing crisis in the party.

Worried by this development, the APC governors, led by their chairman, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, met Buhari to resolve the crisis Tuesday night.

It was learnt that the governors at the meeting insisted on the need for discipline and unity within the APC by ensuring that the lawmakers toe party lines.

The governors’ meeting with the President, behind closed doors in the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, started at about 11p.m. and ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

They have also scheduled a meeting with the lawmakers to inform them of the decision to stick with party directives on the allocation of the remaining principal offices in the National Assembly.

Emerging from the meeting with the President, Okorocha told journalists: “We are worried by what is happening at the National Assembly and we felt we should rub minds with Mr. President. We are worried by the pockets of disagreements going on at the National Assembly and we have resolved that we are from a party and our party’s views should be respected.

“So, we feel that there is need for us to invite our senators and look more into the matter and see how we can all make peace. We believe this is our party which we all come from and everyone should respect the party and for that reason we have decided that we are going to invite our senators and rub minds with them.”

“We are saying that there shouldn’t be a winner-takes-it-all; that we should carry everybody along, and accommodate others as suggested by the party.”

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, also stressed the resolution of the governors to drum up the imperative of the legislators to respect party supremacy.

His words: “Basically, what we are saying is that the senators should adopt the position of the party.”

“We were all elected on the platform of the party; we are not just a collection of individuals but a political party and when the party has spoken we must listen. Otherwise, if it was a game of individuals like golf then individuals can go their way. I think it is very clear at this point that the party has the responsibility to keep the system going.”

“So, we as progressive governors have listened to the President and we have discussed extensively and we are clear that the party’s position should be supported by the senators. This is the way it should be and we should start on a note of working closely.”

“We as governors listen to the party, and we expect our senators to also listen to the party. We are going to call them and tell them this is it; and explain our reasons. We can’t continue to allow this. It is about party supremacy.”

Though the President’s response to the APC governors was not immediately available, it is speculated that he is not particularly impressed that somebody would want to force his will on the party. He is also said not to see any reason why Odigie-Oyegun should be crucified for the crisis in the National Assembly.

A reliable source quoted the President as saying that the party should face the problem as it were: “A case of some members of the party in the National Assembly rebelling against the party’s decision. That, certainly, is not Oyegun’s making.”

That, according to sources, informed the decision of the governors to seek a parley with the APC senators and members of the House of Representatives on the need to respect and abide by the party’s decisions.

Governors absent at the parley were those of Lagos, Zamfara, Ogun, Sokoto, Yobe and Bauchi.

Aware of the fact that the PDP legislators strongly support Saraki and Dogara, added to the fact that the duo also have a handful of APC lawmakers behind them, the ruling party and its governors may have no option than to respect the reality that Senate President and Speaker of the House are firmly in control of the National Assembly; and toe the line of Odigie-Oyegun and accept the new NASS leadership.