SENATE LEADERSHIP CRISIS: EKWEREMADU MUST GO –APC

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■Lawan’s group insists on party list
■Why APC leaders are angry with Saraki
■Tinubu camp’s three-point grouse with NEC 
President Muham¬madu Buhari is unhappy with the bi-partisan arrangement in the Sen¬ate, which has Senator Bukola Saraki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as president and Senator Ike Ekwerema¬du of the Peoples Demo¬cratic Party (PDP) as his deputy.
Sources at the 40-minute closed-door session of the par¬ty’s National Executive Com¬mittee (NEC) meeting last Fri¬day disclosed that President Buhari pointedly declared that the APC would not work with “enemies of the party.”
As presently constituted, the APC has 59 Senators to PDP’s 49 members.
The source continued: “The president told us he can¬not work with enemies of the party. He was angry that our party men in the Senate went against the wishes of the party and went to the chamber to work with the same people we defeated at the polls…”
It was also gathered that the president urged leaders of the party to be vigilant as the PDP was not happy it was out of power after 16 years in the saddle.
Meanwhile, there appears to be no letup in the leadership crisis rocking the two cham¬bers of the National Assem¬bly at the weekend with the Senate Unity Forum insisting that Senate President Saraki respect the list of principal of¬ficers forwarded to him by the party.
On Tuesday, June 23, Na¬tional Chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun had sent to the Senate president a list of can¬didates for the remaining prin¬cipal office positions of the majority party in the chamber.
They are: Senate Majority Leader (North-east: Senator Ahmad Lawan); Deputy Ma¬jority Leader (North-central: Senator George Akume); Sen¬ate Chief Whip (South-west: Senator Olusola Adeyeye) and Deputy Chief Whip (North-west: Senator Abu Ibrahim).
At the meeting convened by Imo State Governor, Ro¬chas Okorocha at the Imo Governors’ Lodge in the Aso-koro District of Abuja after the NEC meeting, representatives of the Forum insisted that the Senate president must con¬cede one slot in the principal offices.
A source close to the Fo¬rum loyal to Senator Ahmad Lawan disclosed to Sunday Sun that the group “stands by the decision of the party. The list of four principal officers is before the Senate president. He should do what the party expects of him. The Senate Unity Forum stands by its decision on party supremacy, nothing more.”
Asked what would now happen since the Senate presi¬dent had read the names for the positions as forwarded to him by the various caucuses and the Senators had taken their seats in the chamber before the recess, he replied: “They should resign. If they are loyal party men, they should know that their party has taken a decision and the list is still before the Senate president. The national chairman has not withdrawn the list…The Sen¬ate president must reconcile his own principal officers’ list with the party’s list.
Another senator privy to the series of “peace meetings” convened by party leaders on the matter disclosed that “arguments by the Senate president and the speaker that each geo-political zone must be represented in the body of principal officers, particularly as it concerns the majority party, does not hold water.
“They should show us where it is in the Nigerian Constitution and the Stand¬ing Orders of the two Hous¬es…”
It was also gathered that leaders of the party are still angry with the Senate presi¬dent for not reaching out to the party to explain why he did not act on the list of officers sent to him last month.
“Some members of the party caucuses are still wait¬ing for the Senate president to meet with them to explain his position on why he read letters from our caucuses and why he didn’t carry out the wishes of our party through the letter the chairman sent to him.”
The meeting with the gov¬ernors was also being con¬cluded but for the insistence of some members that party leaders from the other side must be consulted before tak¬ing a firm decision on resolu¬tion of the crisis.
“Their wishes were grant¬ed. That was why the meeting was shifted till next week with the belief that all contending interests in the party would be taken into consideration.”
In a related development, supporters of the National Leader, Asiwaju BolaTinubu were said to be unhappy with the outcome of the NEC meet¬ing last Friday.
An earlier plan to get Oye¬gun suspended did not suc¬ceed. Rather than suspension, the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) passed a vote of confidence on Oye¬gun.
The second plan was to have the Senate president and the Speaker Yakubu Dogara shut out of the NEC meeting, and the third was that even if the two were allowed to attend the NEC, since they are statu¬tory members, they should have been made to apologize for going against the party’s wishes regarding the leader-ship positions.
There may be compro¬mise, however, in the House of Representatives as the re¬maining four principal office positions were not filled be¬fore plenary was adjourned till July 21.
-Sun

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