SARAKI, LAWAN GROUPS DISAGREE ON SENATE MAJORITY LEADER

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Leaders of the All Progressives Congress again on Monday failed to broker truce between its two rival groups in the Senate.
The latest peace effort was at the instance of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee.
The meeting held at Odigie-Oyegun’s private residence in Asokoro, Abuja on Monday.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were among the APC lawmakers who attended the meeting.
Although the meeting was not open to journalists, it was learnt that it provided the first real opportunity for the leaders of the two opposing groups to meet face to face since the June 9 National Assembly leadership elections.
The APC was thrown into a crisis following the emergence of Saraki and Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.
The party had announced Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as its sole candidates for the two positions.
Saraki was earlier scheduled to meet with the APC leadership two weeks ago but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute at the instance of some party leaders.
However, neither Saraki nor the party’s preferred candidate for the position of Senate President, Lawan agreed to sheathe their sword.
The cold war between the two camps worsened within the last two weeks with both parties insisting on producing the remaining four principal officers in the Senate.
While Lawan’s group with the support of some APC leaders wanted the party to choose the occupants of the positions, the Saraki camp maintained that the principal officers must be produced by the various zonal caucuses in the Senate.
It was gathered that Lawan’s argument before Odigie-Oyegun on Monday, was that members of his group would be disenfranchised if the caucuses should determine the fate of the four officers.
Saraki on the other hand insisted that he could not afford to have his rival in such a sensitive position as Senate Leader.
The development forced the meeting to adjourn abruptly thereby worsening the growing anxiety and tension within the two camps.
As of the time of filing this report, one of our correspondents learnt that Saraki had asked the various caucuses to meet at 11pm on Monday to pick their representatives to fill the four remaining principal officers’ positions.
Our correspondents further learnt that while Senator Ali Ndume ( Borno South ) was being favoured as Senate Leader, a former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani – Yerima, may become the Chief Whip.
However, a member of the Saraki camp told one of our correspondents on conditions of anonymity that a senator from the South-West, had intensified lobby to become either the Deputy Senate Leader or the Deputy Chief Whip.
A source said, “The senate president has asked the various caucuses to agree on their candidates before 12 midnight and submit the list which he had said would be announced during plenary tomorrow (Tuesday).”
A leading member of the party, who pleaded for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confided in one of our correspondents that party leaders tried but failed to get Saraki to accommodate Lawan and his supporters.
The Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Assembly are expected to announce the composition of other leadership positions during plenary today (Tuesday).
This is required to prepare grounds for President Muhammadu Buhari to present his list of ministerial nominees for screening.
When contacted about happenings with respect to the crisis in the National Assembly, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said, “No comment.”
Governors on the party’s platform were expected to meet in Abuja, on Monday night but as of 9.10pm there was no sign that the meeting will hold as inquiries revealed that the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha, had yet to arrive Abuja from Owerri.

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