APC crisis over National Assembly leadership deepens
The crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the leadership of the National Assembly may have assumed a frightening dimension.
Yesterday, an attempt by 59 APC Senators to resolve their differences over the sharing of the remaining four principal positions in the Senate failed, leadings to exchange of physical combats and insults on the floor of the Upper Chamber.
Senate President Bukola Saraki had shortly after the plenary session announced that the APC Senators would meet at his meeting Room 301 to sort out the matter. It was learnt that at the meeting, it was made clear that the positions had been allocated to geo-political zones, and the APC Senators from those zones were asked to agree among themselves and produce acceptable persons to fill the positions.
While the group of Like Minds Senators insisted on the zonal arrangement, the Unity Forum which supports Senator Ahmed Lawan were opposed to it as they insisted that those nominated by the APC leadership to take the positions should be allowed to do so.
The positions are those of Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Majority Whip and Deputy Majority Whip.
A majority of the Senators had already gathered at the meeting room when emotions betrayed some of the lawmakers who believed that things were not being done properly.
Trouble started when Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo State) suggested the name of Robert Boroffice for Majority Whip, a position that had been allocated to Olusola Adeyeye (Osun). Terribly angered by that suggestion, Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara) rushed towards Alasoadura, pushed him angrily and attempted to hit him. Alasoadura was said to have been saved by the timely intervention of Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara) who held Marafa firmly and prevented him from hitting at his target. Other Senators also joined in saving the ugly situation while rains of abusive words intensified from all angles in different languages.
In the heat of the crisis, Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna), suddenly opened the doors of the Room 301 which had been firmly closed for the meeting. He later explained the cause of the crisis, pointing out that the trouble became inevitable because some APC Senators who had benefitted from leadership positions still wanted to forcefully take the remaining offices.
Abu Ibrahim (Katsina) also explained the causes of the crisis. In a brief interview with journalists at the venue of the meeting, Ibrahim stated: “The aim of the meeting was to reconcile the lawmakers because there was the Unity Forum and the Like Mind groups. After the elections of the Senate President, there were some fallouts. The party started wading in and the meeting today was an agreement between both groups, that we are all Senators and we should sit as Senators and resolve our differences because we have to work together for the next four years.
“The party has come out with its own position and some people are trying to rush to sabotage the party’s position. We will see whether the Senate President will heed the party’s directives. There is desire among ourselves that we should put this thing behind us.”
Saraki had, in vain, tried to persuade his colleagues to adopt a peaceful approach towards resolving the crisis.
He said: “Distinguished colleagues, I have convened this meeting for obvious reason, among other things, the need to come together, unite with one another and embrace one another on the platform of love and brotherliness, with the believe that we would all do the needful and put our differences behind us and forge ahead.
“As a common parlance goes, there is always an agreement in disagreement and vise versa. I am well convinced beyond doubt that today and after this family reunion, we shall all beat our chests that we have done it again.
“I appeal to you all to let us do those things that will unite us than those things that will divide us. For me, I am ready and desirous, as a colleague, to work with all of you in order to provide that focused leadership in the Senate and the National Assembly as an institution.
“It is time to bury the hatchet and renew that spirit of love, cooperation and trust in one another. The leadership of our party expects us to hit the ground running and Nigerians are waiting to see us in action to deliver on our promises and commitment.
Also, two factions of the APC were at daggers drawn in the House of Representatives yesterday over the choice of candidates to fill four vacant principal officers positions.
It was learnt that the factions have already transmitted separate correspondence to the party’s leadership on how the positions should be distributed among the members.
In the communication, the faction reportedly loyal to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, was said to be insisting on the principle of federal character as prescribed in the constitution, especially in appointing lawmakers to fill the four vacant positions, and have argued that the North East and South West have been settled with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker positions respectively.
But the other faction, “Loyalists Group”, reportedly loyal to the former Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos/APC), said that the principal officers must emerge on the basis of popularity within the House APC caucus.
In the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the House Standing Orders, the political party with majority seats produces the House Leader, Deputy House Leader, Majority Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
The Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip positions will be produced by the minority political parties.
This came to the fore yesterday as the South-South Caucus of the APC rejected the position of Deputy Chief Whip of the House purportedly allocated to it.
The caucus, in a statement signed by its leader, Pally Iriase, lamented what it described as a deliberate effort to marginalise the zone in the sharing structure.
The statement reads: “It has come to our notice that a proposal purportedly emanating from the Loyalists Group of the House of Representatives had been sent to the NWC of APC wherein the South South is said to be allotted the position of Deputy Chief Whip. Our immediate reaction is to repudiate the fraudulent and insensitive proposal.
“We are members of the Loyalists Group and to the best of our knowledge, no proposal for the zoning of principal officers was discussed and agreed to by any member of the South South in the Loyalists Group. Unilateral and self-serving proposal by a few members cannot be said to have come from the group.”