Revolt looms in APC over N’Assembly leadership


APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun

• Bola Tinubu relocates to Abuja
• Reprisal as PDP decides outcome

THE capacity of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to run a cohesive administration will be put to test today as members of the National Assembly elect the leadership of the eighth session of parliament.

The ability of the party to ensure that members respect its decisions in the issue of legislative leadership would not only create a seamless relationship between the arms of government, but also instill discipline in the party, a trait that the defeated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lacked.

Yesterday, the APC leadership stepped up efforts at rallying its lawmakers-elect to abide by the decision of the party on the choice of the leaders of the two chambers.

This report came yesterday as it was confirmed that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, leader of the party has literally moved to Abuja to ensure success of his strategy to install his men.

The Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in a last-ditch effort to appeal to some defiant members to drop their “rebellion”, met with all APC lawmakers in Abuja on the desirability to toe the party’s lines.

Prior to today’s proclamation, the party, desirous of managing the scramble for positions among its members, conducted a mock election last weekend and Ahmad Lawan and George Akume emerged as Senate President and Deputy respectively.

For the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Mohammed Monguno were chosen as Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the exercise that clearly indicated the preference of party leaders.

The party had earlier declared that there was no zoning arrangement in the selection of the positions and that the coast was clear for the best candidates to emerge in line with the wish of President Muhammadu Buhari.

With two aspirants, Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara who rejected the party’s mock election, supposedly defying the directive of the party by insisting on going ahead with the election , there is the possibility of the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) benefitting from the rancour.

Already, some aggrieved APC lawmakers are threatening to ditch their party and support the PDP by drawing former Senate President, David Mark, who has not publicly declared intention to contest the presidency of the Senate.

If that happens, it will be a repeat of the politics that threw up former Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal when his party, the PDP, had zoned the position to the South West and specifically zeroed in on Mulikat Akande as the party’s candidate.

The Tambuwal revolt beckons
Like it happened during the build-up to the June 4, 2011 defiant choice of Tambuwal, when then President Goodluck Jonathan was away in New York for a UN summit on HIV/AIDS, President Muhammadu Buhari is attending the G7 summit in Germany.

The APC leaders are however not leaving anything to chance even though Buhari is not around to rein in some of the defiant lawmakers as they have practically relocated to Abuja to prevent being beaten by the same bug they unleashed on the PDP four years ago.

The party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and others have been in Abuja for three weeks hoping to exert enough influence on the lawmakers to make them abide by the result of the mock elections.

They are also expected to be in the two chambers today to, with their presence, prevent any anti-party moves and to keep tab on the votes of members to ensure compliance.

Sources within the party disclosed that the issue is of so much concern that some members are even demanding that the proclamation and inauguration of the leadership should be postponed to allow more consultations.

This group wanted Buhari, who is billed to come back to the country on Tuesday night, to be around to take control of the situation as the issue is of paramount importance to the Executive/Legislative relationship and the delivery of dividends of democracy that he promised Nigerians during the campaigns.

Oyegun restates party supremacy
Yesterday the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke to reporters at the party secretariat in Abuja; urged the aggrieved aspirants and their supporters to respect the position of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

He justified the decision of the party to conduct the shadow election, saying it was borne out of the need to guide the National Assembly members on the candidates to vote for in today’s election.

Saying all the party did was to provide a veritable platform for its aspirants, he insisted that the procedure used to pick the party’s candidate was not tantamount to imposition of the leadership of the National Assembly.

According to him: “I want to appeal to APC members of the National Assembly, both Senate and the House of Representatives, to please respect the party, the views of the party and the decision that they themselves took in selecting the persons that will be presented to the National Assembly as presiding officers: At the House of Representatives level, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and at the Senate level, Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan.

“I want to make it quite clear that all the party did was to provide the platform for all elected members of the party only. No other person joined them in stating their preferences. It is still left for the House itself to elect their own leaders and the House is made up of both APC and non-APC members. But we the APC thought rightly in my view that we should provide a platform for our members of the National Assembly to state their preferences for the key offices in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“This they have freely done by themselves in the presence of the party leadership and almost the entire NWC. But it seems that some of the aspirants are not satisfied with the preferences of the majority of the members either of the House or the Senate. So, for me and the NWC, this is an appeal that no individual interest should be allowed to over ride the interest of the party as a whole,” Odigie-Oyegun clarified.

He continued: “Members contested on the platform of the party, the party did not contest on the platform of members. So the party’s views and method of doing things should be respected. All we did was to provide the platform. We recognise and accept that we cannot impose leaders on them.

“Of course we can provide guidance as to the thing that ought to be done and the kind of persons we think they should look for and that is all we have done. My appeal is that they respect the arrangement that has been made by the party, that they respect the views expressed in a secret vote by the majority o f the members of the House of Representatives and their senior colleagues, the Senate and let peace be.”

Lai Mohammed allays fears

The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, disclosed that the meeting between the party leadership and the lawmakers, was slated for 4.00 p.m. yesterday and was billed to be presided over by Osinbajo.

The meeting, according to Muhammed, was to allay the fears that some APC lawmakers may vote for PDP candidates just as he appealed to aggrieved members to sheathe the sword and abide by the results of the mock elections stressing that “all we are doing is to ensure the best happens to this our great nation, our people and our future.”

He added: “Contrary to the negative information being passed to the public, the leadership of the APC did not endorse anyone neither does it back anybody.”

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