Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
There were indications, Thursday, that President Muhammadu Buhari could be fighting a lone battle against the duo of the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike EKweremadu, following their election on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, as 43 senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may have given their support to their colleagues in solidarity.
Only 15 senators of the APC and the lone Labour Party senator in the senate, turned up gor a press briefing aimed at druming support gir Buhari’s alleged dictatorial tendencies.
This development came only 24 hours, after the senators of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had publicly announced the withdrawal of their support to Buhari and his government.
Both Saraki and Ekweremadu have been accused, alongside two others, of “forging” the Senate Standing Rules (2015 as amended) to favour them on their way to emerging the President and Deputy of the Senate, respectively.
In the wake of the forgery case instituted by the Federal Government against the quartet, the Senate attacked the President by describing his action as dictatorial and very dangerous to democracy.
This came through a statement issued last Sunday by its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi, while the resolutions were taken on Tuesday on a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator Dino Melaye.
“It is a plan to return Nigeria to the dictatorial era which we have, as a nation, voted to reject. It is a dangerous trend with grave implications for the survival of our democracy and the integrity of the component institutions,” the statement read.
This was reechoed by the Media Adviser to the embattled Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Wednesday in a statement.
Olaniyonu, who accused Buhari of being dictatorial, said: “This latest antics is a grand onslaught on the foremost institution of our democracy. The only institutional difference between dictatorship and democracy is the presence of the legislature”.
These were followed by the action of the PDP senators to withdraw their support and cooperation for the Buhari-led APC government, as they alleged dictatorial tendencies and selective anti corruption war.
But a factional caucus of the APC senators, led by the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, in collaboration with the only Labour Party senator in the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, took a different position by throwing their weight behind the policies and programmes of the President.
During their briefing with journalists, the presence of only 15 APC senators revealed a widened division among the elected APC senators in the Senate.
They particularly slammed the PDP senators over their withdrawal of support for the President on alleged selective anti-corruption war, and also condemned the allegation of dictatorial tendencies leveled against him.
“We are shocked at the totally partisan reaction of our colleagues from the minority party (PDP) to the on-going investigations and recovery of public funds meant for the prosecution of the war against insurgency.
“Contrary to the assertion of our PDP colleagues, the investigation is not a partisan war against a particular political party. It is no longer a news item that there was a wanton diversion of public funds meant for fighting insurgency to fund campaigns of PDP. Members of the PDP were the sole and iniquitous beneficiaries of this diversion.
“Seeking to recover diverted public funds is neither dictatorial nor against the rule of law. In all the actions, programmes and policies of the PMB-led APC Federal Government, no PDP member has been unjustly arrested or imprisoned on mere allegations.
“On the contrary, we are daily regaled with news of millions and billions of naira of public funds traced to accounts of individuals some of whom have accepted to return such diverted public funds.
“As law abiding and patriotic citizens, we cherish the rule of law and the separation of powers among the different arms of government. Political interference based on partisan consideration must be eschewed,” Adeyeye said.
Apparently distancing themselves from the stance taken by the Senate against the planned prosecution of its leadership over alleged forgery case on Tuesday , the caucus declared that: “There is nothing dictatorial or against the rule of law in all of the actions and programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari”.
Members of the caucus mostly from the Senate Unity Forum (SUF), who attended the briefing, are: Deputy Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Francis Alimekhena, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, Senator Abubakar Kyari and Senator Kabiru Marafa.
Others are: Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, Senator Binta Garba Mashi, Senator Ali Wakili, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, Senator Sukaiman Nazif, Senator Yusuf Abubakar and Senator Abubakar Garbai.