Senate Crisis: Goje, Yerima Kick Against Imposition Of Majority Leader
Senators Ahmed Sani Yerima Rufa’i and Danjuma Goje, yesterday, dismissed moves by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to fill the remaining four principal officers’ positions with ranking members of the Senate from the camp of Ahmed Lawan, also known as The Unity Forum.
The Unity Forum is loyal to Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, who lost the Senate Presidency to Senator Bukola Saraki.
The remaining leadership positions are Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Senate Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
The APC leadership is allegedly working on an arrangement, which will see Senator Lawan emerging as the Senate Majority Leader with Senator George Akume as his deputy. For the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye has been penciled down and Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina State is to be his deputy.
Speaking in separate interviews in Abuja yesterday, Senator Rufa’i, a former Senate Deputy Minority Leader, and Senator Goje insisted that imposition of principal officers on the chamber would be resisted.
On his part, Senator Rufa’i reiterated that election of the four principal officers was the exclusive preserve of the zonal caucuses in the Senate, adding that the move by the APC leadership was illegal.
He said: “There cannot be an imposition. As far as I’m concerned, the party cannot impose leadership on us. It’s unconstitutional and against the rules of the Senate. The Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Senate Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip are elected by their caucuses and the Eighth Assembly cannot be different.
“The best thing the party can do, given the circumstances, is to give us directives. Any attempt to impose will be resisted and this will further divide the party.”
Senator Rufa’i, popularly known as Yerima, insisted on the party following due process and also submitted that the Senate Presidency of Senator Bukola Saraki is committed to protecting the interests of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We should follow due process; to allow the party to impose a leadership on the Senate President is to make him fail because you cannot force him to work with his rivals.
“We are committed to giving President Buhari protection in the Senate. What we’re doing is definitely not against the President.”
Senator Danjuma Goje, speaking in the same vein, cautioned against imposition, a move, he said, would likely further polarise the party.
“By trying to impose another set of leadership on the National Assembly is to cause further crisis in the party. It will complicate matters and generate further crisis in the National Assembly.”
Senator Goje maintained, like Yerima, that imposition of principal officers was against the tradition in the National Assembly.
“It’s not the tradition. The tradition is to try to reach consensus by making the zonal caucuses decide for themselves.
“This is another dictation by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Leaders must be supported by the led. We, in the APC, are craving for change and this change must be seen in the way the affairs of the party are run.
“Imposition is against the spirit of ‘First Ming Equals.’ You can impose and we reject! I want to strongly advise the National Chairman to go about it very softly. I’m aware that majority of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) are not in support of this decision.
“The President of the country, who was elected on the platform of the APC, believes that leaders must emerge through a constitutional process and the rule of law. Imposition and impunity was what drove us away from the PDP…”
In a related development, it was gathered that The Like Minds, a support base for Senate President Bukola Saraki in the APC has swelled to 34 members at the weekend.