Saraki Group Rejects Lawan As Senate Leader | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Saraki Group Rejects Lawan As Senate Leader

Posted: Jun 21, 2015 at 12:05 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Rotimi Akinwumi  Abuja

Hopes of Senator Ibrahim Lawan becoming Leader of the National Assembly’s upper chamber, to compensate for his loss in the race for the Senate Presidency, may have been dashed.



This followed hints at the weekend that loyalists of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, are kicking against his possible nomination by the All Progressives Party (APC), which enjoys a simple majority of members in the chamber.

“Unity group” to which Lawan belonged during the struggle for the Senate Presidency, was allegedly positioned to produce the Senate Leader and deputy, as “peace offering,” with Lawan and his running mate, George Akume, reportedly chosen by the group to fill the slots.

The group, it was said, was allotted the offices in a bid to heal all wounds created by the bitter fight for the nation’s number three position, which was clinched by the “Like Minds Group,” Saraki’s campaign platform.

The Senate President had on Friday led a team of supporters and some party chieftains on a peace mission to the home of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in what may be in a bid to seek the former President’s intervention in the festering crisis within the APC and reconcile his group with angry party leaders.

It was gathered that as part of the peace deal, there was an agreement that the Unity Group be compensated.

However, with news emanating that members of the Unity Group are set to clinch the four “top positions” of Senate Leader and Deputy, the Chief Whip and Deputy, some members of the “Like Minds Group” are expectedly kicking.

In a ‘winner takes all manner,’ the group, according to our source, is resisting plans by the party leaders to put forward the names of Lawan and Akume for the top slots.

It was gathered that a resolution had been reached that the North East zone should produce the Senate Leader, but the choice of Lawan by the party is said to be raising dust.

The often dependable source in the Senate confided in Sunday Independent yesterday that aside Lawan and Akume picked for Senate Leader and Deputy respectively, the party is also giving open support for Senator Olusola Adeyeye as Senate Whip, with Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina State favoured to become his deputy.

Far from the underground fights, which was used during the struggle for the Senate Presidency, opponents of the party’s choices came out openly yesterday to denounce the alleged adoptions. Senators Ahmed Sani Rufa’i and Danjuma Goje, yesterday dismissed alleged moves by the APC leadership to fill the remaining four principal positions with the listed ranking members of the Unity Forum.

Speaking in separate interviews in Abuja on Saturday, Senator Rufa’i, a former Senate Deputy Minority Leader, and Senator Goje, insisted that imposition of principal officers on the chamber would be resisted, just like in the case of the Senate Presidency struggle.

Rufa’i insisted that election of the four principal officers was the exclusive preserve of the zonal caucuses in the Senate, adding that the move by the APC leadership was illegal, threatening that it would be stoically resisted.

“There cannot be imposition. As far as I’m concerned, the party cannot impose leadership on us…It’s unconstitutional and against the rules of the Senate.

“The Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Senate Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip are elected by their caucuses and the Eighth Assembly cannot be different.

“The best thing the party can do, given the circumstances, is to give us directives. Any attempt to impose will be resisted and this will further divide the party” he said.

Senator Danjuma Goje who also spoke on the issue, concurred with Rufa’I, warning the party leaders not to get directly involved in the matter.

He particularly blamed the National leaders of the party, especially Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Lagos State Governor, as the one behind the issue.

He warned the party to beware of the nature of crisis that led to the downfall of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with a warning that the Senate Rules should be allowed to take pre-eminence in resolving the matter.

“By trying to impose another set of leadership on the National Assembly is to cause further crisis in the party. It will complicate matters and generate further crisis in the National Assembly.

“It’s not the tradition. The tradition is to try to reach consensus by making the zonal caucuses decide for themselves.

“This is another dictation by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Leaders must be supported by the led. We, in the APC are craving for change and this change must be seen in the way the affairs of the party are run.

“Imposition is against the spirit of ‘First among Equals.’ You can impose and we reject! I want to strongly advise the National Chairman to go about it very softly. I’m aware that majority of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) are not in support of this decision.

“The President of the country, who was elected on the platform of the APC, believes that leaders must emerge through a constitutional process and the rule of law.

“Imposition and impunity was what drove us away from the PDP,” he stressed.