■ Party mulls sanction against Saraki, Atiku for ‘anti-party activities’
National Chairman of the All Progres¬sives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun may soon be relived of his job owing to “loss of confi¬dence” in him by top lead¬ers of the party.
Saturday Sun gathered that the party’s top guns met with President Muhammadu Bu¬hari on Thursdaynight.
The agenda was the crisis rocking the party in the Na¬tional Assembly, the role of the national chairman and how to move the party for¬ward.
At the end of the meet¬ing it was resolved that the chairman would be asked to go. According to an insider, the meeting held him solely responsible for the crisis, be¬lieving that he has not “dis¬charged the responsibilities of his office creditably”, es¬pecially since the incident of May 9, 2015 at the National Assembly.
And outside the Presiden¬tial Villa, loyalists of the par¬ty’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the NWC have constituted themselves into a vanguard for Oyegun’s sack. It is believed that these loyalists control the NWC as a body.
Their grouse with Oyegun is that “he allowed the leader¬ship crisis in the National As¬sembly to fester to the point where the Senate President and Speaker Yakubu Dogara routinely ignored party direc¬tives…”
Besides that, Saturday Sun checks indicated that Oyegun’s letter to Saraki and Dogara on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 23, detailing the party’s preferred candi¬dates as principal officers, “was supposed to have been sent, at least, a week earlier,” an impeccable source obliged
However, according to him, “the chairman delayed writing the letter because he was trying to make the NWC see reasons as the matter could still be resolved ami¬cably…”
Another source disclosed that on three occasions, mem¬bers of the committee Tinubu impressed it on Oyegun to convene meetings where it was agreed that he should publicly call the APC cau¬cus in the Senate and House of Representatives to order with a firm directive to obey party directives on filling the leadership positions in both chambers.
“Rather than write the let¬ter, the chairman told his col¬leagues that it was better to settle the matter informally, without recourse to writing letters,” the source said.
He added: “Also the chair¬man was of the opinion that the lawmakers should be al¬lowed to have their caucus meetings, which had been convened in the Senate, be¬fore deciding the next step.
“On Tuesday, without al¬lowing the APC Senate cau¬cus conclude its meeting, the NWC piled pressure on Oye-gun and demanded a vote on the matter. Oyegun knew that the NWC was against him and at that point, accepted to write the letter to Saraki and Dogara on the party’s preferred candidates for the vacant principal officers posi¬tions.”
Saturday Sun learnt that some members of the Sen¬ate Unity Forum were report¬edly at the party secretariat to collect the letter, but were prevailed upon to let the party’s Director of Admin¬istration deliver it to the two presiding officers.
The letter arrived Saraki’s office on the fourth floor of the Senate’s new building while he was presiding over the APC caucus meeting on the third floor, where it was agreed that the caucuses, rather than the party, should choose their leaders.
Regardless, Saturday Sun gathered that another group in the party, outside the NWC, is calling for «soft landing» for Oyegun. “We don’t want the PDP to make APC a laughing stock. Al¬ready, they are saying the party is not ready for gover¬nance…He may be given soft landing like an Ambassado¬rial job or any other political appointment they deem fit. But for now, party leaders and the Presidency have lost confidence in him.”
Before the Thursday meet¬ing, however, it was learnt that in addition to plotting Oyegun’s removal, some party leaders may have also concluded plans to move against Senate President Bu¬kola Saraki.
They would accuse him of engaging in “anti-party ac¬tivities.”
To make the alleged “anti-party activities” stick, a top member of the party in the Presidency was said to have complained bitterly and re¬ferred to Saraki’s election on Tuesday, June 9 as “a coup, a ‘legislative coup’ against the party. There’s no other name for it.”
In that regard, the party is considering severe sanctions against him also because of “his association with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy, he said”
Another case against Sara¬ki is that he refused to follow the party’s directives on can¬didates for the remaining four principal officers position should be filled.
It was also gathered yester¬day morning that, in addition to the alleged anti-party activ¬ities against the Senate Presi¬dent, it was also alleged that the national chairman was able to do his (Saraki’s) bid¬ding because “he (Oyegun) had some other influences from the Senate President and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar,” said the party member.
Based on these, the NWC was mandated to investi¬gate the weighty allegations against the two (Saraki and Atiku) and turn in a report on the investigations “as soon as possible.”
Consequently, a small committee was set up to con¬duct the investigation. In car¬rying out this mandate, the committee was expected to invite the two personalities for clarification of the allega¬tions.
However, it was learnt that when the letters inviting the two men were sent to Oye¬gun to sign as head of the NWC, he allegedly refused to sign them.
In earlier interview the em¬battled chairman granted Sat¬urday Sun, he denied being pushed to conduct the mock election precedent to the My 9, 2015 elections of NASS officers
Here’re excerpts of the in¬terview:
What is the atmo¬sphere in the party since the conduct of the Na¬tional Assembly elec¬tion?
Well, the atmosphere is returning to normal. It isn’t quite normal yet. We are still in the process of calming ruffled feathers. We are still in the process of wondering what to do about the breach of party discipline.
But what is important is what everybody has agreed on; that what has happened has happened. We must move on, we must reconcile all our members in the National As¬sembly and get on with the issue of distributing the prin¬cipal positions of leadership. So, that is in process.
Are you still going to sanction the Sen¬ate President and the Speaker as it was re¬ported?
In the course of events, there have been appreciation by them that things have not gone very well and as we meet, all these issues will be addressed and when neces¬sary, restitution has to be made. But this will not be part of an overall resolution of the issue.
Some national offi¬cers of the party took different positions on the matter. Are you go¬ing to sanction them like the Deputy National Publicity Secretary who lambasted Alhaji Lai Mohammed?
(Cuts in) And myself too!
Are you going to sanc¬tion him?
That is being looked at from a disciplinary point of view.
So, he will be disci¬plined?
I won’t say he is going to be disciplined. He would be called to explain why he did what he did. It is possible we may pardon him if he has good, enough reasons, but he has to explain to the party.
Have you really sat down to consider why he took that position?
No. He is an adult. He can tell us what happened and why he did what he did.
There are insinuations that you were coerced by the Lagos forces to conduct the mock elec¬tion against your earlier position that you were not going to do that. Is it true?
I am sorry I am not capa¬ble of being coerced by any group or any individual or whatever. That is not possible at all. I want to make that very, very clear.
Are you afraid that the crisis in the party may consume you as APC National Chairman?
No, I am not.
Apart from the fall¬out of the National As¬sembly election, do you think there are enemies within the party who want you out?
I am not aware of any en¬emy.
■ Party mulls sanction against Saraki, Atiku for ‘anti-party activities’