Leadership Of APC Warns Of Consequences Should Either Bukola Saraki Or Yakubu Dogara Disobeys Party Views On Nass Leadership Selection As Plot Thickens For PDP Support
Teddy Nwanunobi and Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara risk the hammer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) should they go ahead to contest for the leadership of the National Assembly against the wishes of their party.
Pointers to this came as the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, yesterday appealed to its members elected to the National Assembly, to respect the party’s stance in the choice of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
Oyegun, who addressed journalists in his office yesterday, warned that what the party did with the mock election was to provide the platform for all members to select persons that would be presented to the National Assembly as presiding officers.
According to him, those selected at the mock election, should be respected and accepted as the party’s choice for leadership of the national assembly.
“I want to appeal to APC members of the National Assembly, both Senate and the House of Representatives, to please respect the party, the views of the party and the decision that they themselves took in selecting the persons that will be presented to the National Assembly as presiding officers.
“I want to make it quite clear that all the party did was to provide the platform for all elected members of the party only. No other person joined them in stating their preferences. “We, the APC, thought rightly, in my view, that we should provide a platform for our members of the National Assembly to state their preferences for the key offices in both the House of Representatives and the Senate”, he said.
He wondered why the mock election that was freely conducted in the presence of the party leadership and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) could be rejected by aspirants who are not satisfied with the preferences of the majority of the members either of the House or the Senate.
“For me and the NWC, this is an appeal that no individual interest should be allowed to over ride the interest of the party as a whole. Members contested on the platform of the party, the party did not contest on the platform of members. So the party’s views and method of doing things should be respected.
“All we did was to provide the platform. We recognized and accept that we cannot impose leaders on them. Of course we can provide guidance as to how things ought to be done and the kind persons we think they should look for and that is all we have done.
“My appeal is that they must respect the arrangement that has been made by the party; that they respect the views expressed in a secret vote that the majority of the members of the House of Representatives and their senior colleagues, the Senate and let peace be”, he added.
The National Chairman, who said that change can only start with the conduct of members of the party, explained that the party has survived lots of predictions in good shape adding that the issue of choosing presiding officers for the National Assembly will be a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, as the decision time for the senators-elect to choose their leaderships edges closer, senators-elect of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are yet to come up with a consensus candidate. This is after Senator Saraki rejected outcome of the mock-election and vowed to contest for the office on the floor of the Senate tomorrow.
However, the APC senate majority may fail it if the dissentions are not addressed in a satisfactory manner as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with 49 senators-elect, could still take the gifted advantage of a divided APC to produce the Senate leadership on the Decision Day (D-Day).
There are fears within the party that Saraki could give the PDP an opportunity to take a late minute advantage. Looking at the situation, one of the APC senators-elect, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, expressed hope that the party’s leadership should be able to save it from the impending danger.
“You need to look at how many senators are from APC. You will see that even if you are able to win by one vote, you have secured your victory. The mock election for a consensus candidate at the weekend may not have yielded much result, but APC will not be relentless in picking a unanimous consensus candidate. The election at the weekend was free and fair, and shows that the winner, Senator Ahmed Lawan, enjoyed more support with 32 votes out of 58 senators-elect than his contender, Senator Bukola Saraki.
“Let us not take it away from the APC. Let us look at what we will be able to do to come out with one true consensus candidate to compete with, should there be any case for a contender from the other party (PDP). On the floor of the Senate, I am hoping that between now and tomorrow morning, the leaders in our party would have called everybody together, including those, who are aggrieved; appeal to their sentiments and emotions, and assure them that the best way to go is to produce one candidate.
“We are expecting that there wouldn’t be any other candidate that will come from the APC, but if that happens then on the floor of the Senate, we will be able to choose just one candidate. At the end of the day, all of us will rally round the candidate that emerged, and we will look at ways to move this country forward. “This is not the time to be acrimonious.In any way, we should be in unity; we should be able to help Nigeria achieve the needed change. That change cannot come unless and of course the National Assembly has a leadership that will be able to secure the confidence of Nigerians through law making to get to the next level.
“Of course what will happen is that, if by tomorrow morning the matter is not resolved, we have to hold our inaugural session tomorrow, that has not changed. So, getting to the floor of the Senate, if there are more than one candidate, we will not have any option than to vote on the floor of the house, and whoever emerges, I am sure everybody will rally round that person,” Ashafa said. In his submissions, Senator Abubakar Kyari called for the senators-elect to be allowed to express their democratic ideals that are devoid of interference.
“I come from an area that is devastated by Boko Haram insurgency. Nine out of 10 local governments are occupied by Boko Haram and devastated by insurgency. As I speak with you now, nine out of about 10 local governments is occupied by Boko Haram. (During) my election, eight out of 10 local governments were held in camps. That is how bad and devastated my senatorial district is now.
“For me, what my constituents expect is that we have a new government that wants change, and we are fully committed to that change. For there to be development, there has to be peace. So, my agenda is the restoration of peace, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Senate leadership.
“We are in a democratic setting, and we believe in all spheres. People should be allowed to express their democratic ideals devoid of interference; and I believe Mr. President has rightly stated that, and I believe it is on that basis that the Senate will be run. I also believe in party supremacy, and at the same time, tenets of democracy. But then there are procedures. So, I am waiting to see what happens between now and tomorrow,” Kyari said. Speaking on the situation, Senator Andy Uba refuted claims that there is a parley between the two parties.
Uba, who denied that the PDP is planning to field a candidate, however, hinted that the Party’s reaction would be based on what happens on the floor of the Senate today.
“All I know is that tomorrow we will exercise our constitutional rights by voting whoever we think that is best for that job as the Senate President. There is no parley between APC and PDP. All I am saying is that tomorrow, by the grace of God, the Assembly will decide (on) who will run that place as (the) Senate President.
“You cannot say that the PDP is planning to field a candidate, we do not know what will happen until we get to the floor of the Senate because it depends on what is happening on the floor of the Senate that the PDP will react. My anticipation is that we will be able to work closely with whoever emerged as the Senate President so that we can move this country forward.”