Teddy Nwanunobi in Abuja tracked the meeting between APC Governors and President Buhari yesterday after the 36 governors met the President in Aso Villa the previous day and reports on the outcome
Few hours after the 36 governors held a maiden meeting with President Buhari over the poor state of their finances in the face of several months of unpaid wages in many states, the All Progressives Congress Governors retired into the Aso Villa for another round of meeting with the President. It lasted till the early hours of yesterday morning. Topic: The crisis in the party following the election of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Honourable Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives against party directives. Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday threw caution to the winds and engaged themselves in physical combat over the zoning of the principal officers of the 8th Session.
The meeting, which The UNION learnt, was held to harmonise the positions of various tendencies in the party with a view to resolving the lingering post- NASS elections crisis and stop the distraction it has constituted for the party and the presidency, also resolved to explore various mechanisms to whip the erring NASS members into line. Speaking with journalists yesterday on the outcome of their meeting with the President, Governors Roachas Okorocha of Imo State and his Edo State counterpart, Adams Oshiomhole stated that the position of the party must prevail, particularly in the election of the remaining positions of principal officers of both Chambers of the National Assembly.
According to Okorocha, Chairman of APC Governors Forum; “We are worried by the pocket of disagreements going on in the National Assembly. All those of us who come from the party should respect the position of our party on the matter. After meeting with the President and agreeing on the supremacy of the party, we will invite our Senators and Representatives to a peace meeting” In a move for support of his Chairman’s position, Oshiomhole said; “Senators should adopt the position of the party in this matter.
We who are members of the APC are not just a collection of individuals and then as people go our way. We are progressive governors and we have discussed with the President and we are all clear that the party position should be respected. While the outcome of that impending meeting is been eagerly awaited, the NASS members of the party were still digging in their respective position, threatening to do all in their powers to stop anybody, party or person, from realizing their ambitions. In fact while the governors were meeting with Buhari, Honourable Pally Iriase from Owan in Edo State was addressing the press on the rejection of the zoning of the Deputy Chief Whip of the House to the Southsouth.
He said claims by his colleagues that the party has taken a final position on the matter, was a ruse. In the Senate, Senators almost came to blows over sharing of principal positions with the warring major groups led by pro- Lawan/ Akume Unity Forum and pro Saraki Like Minds disagreeing on what formula to adopt in picking officers for the available positions. The UNION gathered that the bone of contention was the distribution of the remaining four key positions, including the Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Senate Chief Whip and Deputy Senate Whip. It was gathered that the dirty fight was squarely an intra Senate Unity Forum (SUF) affair, whose members failed to come to an agreement from the meeting.
The Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had earlier at the Plenary announced a meeting of the APC caucus by 2 p.m. at the Senate Meeting Room 3:01. The meeting, which incidentally was the first time both factions of the APC Senate caucus would be brought together since their division for their quest for the Senate Presidency, took a rowdy turn towards the end. That was when some members of the SUF made their entry into the meeting room, which doubles as the Senate President’s meeting room.
The UNION gathered that nearly 50 of the APC senators were at the meeting when it was agreed that the North-East caucus would produce the Senate Majority Leader, while the North-West was allocated the position of the Deputy Senate Leader. The UNION also learnt that Senate Chief Whip was given to the South-West, while that of the Deputy Whip was zoned to the South-South. But Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi from Kaduna State insisted that the earlier zoning arrangements did not represent the correct position of the ruling party.
It was also learnt that a list of the party’s preferred zonings and candidates was sent from the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to the office of the Senate President. The supposed preferred Party’s list had Senator Ahmad Lawan from North-East as the Senate Majority Leader, Senator George Akume from North-Central as the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Olusola Adeyeye from South-West as the Senate Chief Whip and Senator Abu Ibrahim from North-West as the Deputy Chief Whip. Hunkuyi’s efforts to force the list on his colleagues on the ground that the party’s position should be followed, however, fell on deaf ears.
It was at this point that Senator Tayo Alasoasura from Ondo State was said to have made a suggestion that Senator Ajayi Boroffice (also from Ondo State) take the South-West’s slot. This supposed suggestion did not go down well with Senator Kabir Marafa from Zamfara State, who charged at Alasoasura, and started assaulting him before some of their colleagues quickly intervened.
In his explanations later, Hunkuyi maintained that what transpired at the Senate was against the supreme decision of the APC as a party. “The issue of leadership of the chamber that belongs to the group of the APC cannot be decided here. It is common reasoning and common sense. We have a leadership of the party.
The leadership of the party, that is the APC, still reigns supreme to decide the four positions of leadership where it should go and who shall have it. An attempt here to do otherwise is the cause of this rancour,” he said. Also reacting to the fight, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba from Sokoto State observed that what the APC was trying to do was against convention. “I want to say this, it is against convention. We are first timers. We are just coming, but our senior colleagues, I heard them say, that by convention members of the National Assembly always elect or choose their leaders. It is not the party that does the choosing for the National Assembly,” he said.