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Lingering Power Tussle Threatens To Tear Senators Apart

In what look like a political round about to an earlier position on the leadership in the upper chamber the members of the forum want Dr. Ahmed Lawan as Senate Leader with Sen. George Akume as his deputy in line with the recommendations of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The UNION gathered that the new peace terms accounted for the refusal of the South-West Caucus to fill the slot of the Chief Whip of the Senate allotted to it.

However in reaction to the Unity Forum, the loyalists of Saraki recently said “the conditions are like turning back the hand of the clock.” Some pro-Saraki Senators prefer juicy committees for those in Lawan’s camp. Lawan’s supporters, according to investigation said that Saraki cannot be seeking reconciliation without making concessions to show respect for party supremacy. Both sides had met with President Muhammadu Buhari on how to restore the lingering Cold War in the Senate. It was gathered that House of Reps Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s compliance with the APC’s directive on the choice of principal officers in the House may have been responsible for the change of heart by Saraki and his supporters having being put under pressure as a superior fellow by Dogara’s move.

While pro-Saraki Senators are pushing for an unconditional reconciliation, those in Lawan’s camp said the Senate President should defer to the party and the crisis will be over immediately he does so. Meanwhile a reliable source said “The loyalists of Saraki met with President Muhammadu Buhari for reconciliation without making any concrete offer to pacify the aggrieved. “They only said if all the parties are reconciled, they know what to do to accommodate all. That is a flat and tricky reconciliation proposal. They were not forthcoming on the fate of Lawan and Akume who are central to the politics in the Senate.

However the aggrieved Senators Unity Forum want Ndume and Na’Allah to step down for Lawan and Akume in line with   the wishes of the party. They said the day Saraki defers to the party, the disagreement within the APC Caucus in the Senate will end. The Lawan group noted that it has nothing personal against Saraki but he should make concessions too in order to put the crisis behind the Senate. The loyalists of the President of the Senate want to eat their cake and have it.” said a source When the Abdulsalami Committee members met with Saraki, they expressed concern that the crisis in the Senate was heating up the polity; they also advised Saraki to accommodate all and ensure reconciliation to stabilize the Senate.

However it was not immediately clear if Ndume’s recent shuttles to the South-West were connected with the demands of the Lawan group, the position of the South-West Caucus or the peace terms of Saraki. The letter, referenced APC/NHDQ/ NAM/01/015/05, said: “Please find below for your necessary action names of principal officers approved by the party, after excessive consultations for the 8th Senate as follows: Sen. Ahmed Lawan (Majority Leader)–North-East; Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Chief Whip)–South- West; Sen. George Akume (Deputy Majority Leader) —North-Central; and Sen. Abu Ibrahim (Deputy Chief Whip) —North-West.”

But adopting Caucus Politics to sideline the Lawan group, Saraki’s power sharing formula led to the emergence of the following principal officers: Ali Ndume( Senate Leader); Bala Ibn Na’Allah( Deputy Senate Leader); Francis Ailimikhene (Deputy Chief Whip). Although the office of the Chief Whip was ceded to the South-West, Senators from the geopolitical zone have spurned the offer from Saraki. The Senators from the South-West insisted that Lawan and Akume must be accommodated before considering any offer from Saraki. A Senator said: “Our colleagues from the South-West prefer not to fill the Chief Whip slot at all if Saraki does not make concessions. “So far, they have spurned the office in spite of the fact that a high-ranking   Senator, Prof. Sola Adeyeye, has been recommended for it.”

Similarly some loyalists of Senate President Saraki are beating a retreat in the lingering cold war with the (APC) hierarchy over the leadership crisis in the Upper Chambers. They have already reached out to President Muhammadu Buhari for the purpose of reconciling with him and, by extension, the party leadership. However, the Saraki loyalists were said to have left the first meeting with Buhari “uncomfortable” on account of his body language. Saraki and his loyalists had defied the party by rejecting its candidates for principal positions in the Senate. They shunned the June 9 meeting convened by the APC to resolve the matter and teamed up with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to elect their own candidates including Saraki as Senate President and PDP’s Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy. Interestingly the Nigeria’s Senate President, Saraki, had started reaching out to some of the aggrieved leaders of the party.

Saraki is one of the gladiators in the clash of egos and wills that followed the Senate leadership election on June 9 and subsequent appointment of principal officers. He met with the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, on the same matter. Some time last week, some delegate sent by Saraki met with President Buhari and sought forgiveness for the Senate President for acting contrary to the dictates of the party. The envoy included Senate Leader Ali Ndume, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Senator Adamu Aliero, Senator Danjuma Goje, and Senator Abdullahi Adamu. The representatives were said to have apologised to the President for the individual roles they played in the crisis. However, sources revealed at the weekend that the envoy also had a brief to meet with the party’s national leader and former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu.

Many within the party see the crisis as a battle of wills with Buhari, Tinubu and some party leaders on one side of the ring and the Senate President and his backers on the other side. One of the prominent APC leaders that are believed to have backed Saraki is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. It is believe that Saraki’s olive branch to Tinubu may mark a turning point in the crisis as the Senate President, before now, had insisted that he would not ‘beg’ the APC leader. But the sources added that Saraki might have changed his position when all his efforts to get President Buhari to forgive him for his defiance to the party and move on. The APC national leader had told some of Saraki’s envoy in the past that the senate leadership should toe the party line. However Saraki may need a long-term strategy to pacify the aggrieved party leaders, adding that the Senate President’s is perceived as haughty by some of these leaders. The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed said over the weekend that the APC believes in party supremacy.

-Francis Moses reports on the lingering power tussle in the Senate and the moves by aggrieved parties to find a common ground . In a build up to another conflict of interest at the Senate, the Senate under the aegis of the Unity Forum is insisting that for peace to reign in the upper chamber Alhaji Ali Ndume and Alhaji Bala Ibn Na’Allah must step down as Senate Leader and Deputy Senate Leader respectively as conditions for working with the present Senate President Bukola Saraki.

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