Odigie-Oyegun meets Saraki, Dogara over N’ Assembly crisis
• APC chiefs jostle for ministerial slotS
IN a bid to ensure a harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislature, the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun yesterday met with the Senate President, Abubakar Olusola Saraki, at his Abuja residence.
In attendance at the meeting held at Oyegun’s residence in Asokoro were Senator Ahmed Lawan whose supporters were unhappy with the way and manner Saraki ignored the party directive to emerge the Senate president.
Meanwhile, as the Senate resumes today after two weeks break, there are indications that the election of principal officers will top their agenda.
In a related development, as Buhari presents his ministerial nominees to the National Assembly any moment from now, no fewer than seven members of the NWC of the APC are said to be scheming to be appointed ministers.
The APC after organising a straw poll among its members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, had expressed preference for Ahmed Lawan as Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But Saraki and Dogara who faulted the process went ahead to contest and won the coveted seats to the consternation of the Odigie- Oyegun- led executive of the party.
It is unclear whether Odigie-Oyegun who met with the warring group was able to resolve the disputes rocking the party over the election of the National Assembly leadership.
Both chambers of the National Assembly are billed to resume sitting today after embarking on a two weeks recess shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated them on the 9th of this month.
When Odigie-Oyegun who was billed to reconvene a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party yesterday returned to the party secretariat at about 4.30 pm, there were indications that he was unable to settle the differences between the warring parties.
A source close to the APC chief said that journalists would be duly informed on the efforts made by the party when the need arose.
However, another source close to Saraki who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed that they had resolved their differences with the Lawan group after the parley with Odigie-Oyegun.
He added: “I’m not privy to the details of the meeting, but the Senate President has resolved his differences with the party.”
In a related development, Dogara and the Deputy Speaker Sulieman Yusuf Lasun also met with the APC leaders at his residence in Asokoro to achieve the goal of keeping the peace in the lower legislative chamber.
Dogara’s media aide, Turaki Hassan, however, said that he was not aware of any such meeting between his principal and the APC chief adding: “ It is not unlikely since Odigie-Oyegun can always call them for a meeting anytime. But as at this moment (6.20 pm), I am still with the Speaker in his office at the National Assembly complex.
Odigie- Oyegun had last week assured Nigerians that the party would not rest on its oars to ensure that the National Assembly enjoyed a cordial relationship with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
Already, big names in the APC such as Senators Ahmed Lawan, Ahmed Sani Yerima, Ali Ndume and George Akume, are penciled down for the posts of the Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip as well as Deputy Chief Whip.
Meanwhile, in the camp of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) the likes of James Manager, Philip Aduda, Joshua Dariye and Joshua Lidani would be warming up for the positions opened for the opposition party such as the Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip.
As the most ranking Senator in the PDP caucus, the mantle of Senate Minority leadership would have fallen on the former Senate President, David Mark but it was also learnt that he was not keen in holding any official position in the 8th Senate.
This position has automatically created room for the likes of Senators James Manager, Dariye and Lidani to lobby for the seat of Minority Leader.
It was gathered that both APC and PDP caucuses met separately for hours at different locations yesterday to put final touches on the names of Senators that would govern the 8th Senate.
Expectedly, the emergence of Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President further marred the chances of Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe to hold leadership position in the current setting.
However, there is tension over who emerges as Senate Leader today. This was as Saraki, was said not to be comfortable with Lawan as the Senate Leader.
Aside the fact that the positions of the Senate Leader and the Chief Whip have been originally reserved for Yerima and Ndume, who have been in Saraki’s camp, the Senate President may not want to work with the aggrieved Lawan, who is capable of undermining his office as Senate President.
This development has been causing ripples in the APC, as some party chieftains would want Lawan to automatically become the Senate Leader having lost the chance of becoming the Senate President.
The development is not going down well with Odigie-Oyegun who is keen on ensuring the party maintains its formidable status after the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A source at the party secretariat in Abuja told reporters that among members of the NWC lobbying the presidency to be appointed as ministers are the National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammad, former Governor of Ekiti State and Deputy National Chairman (South) Segun Oni, National Vice Chairman (North-east) David Babachir Lawal, the National Youth Leader, Alhaji Dasuki Jalo, the National Women Leader, Alhaja Ramatu Tijjani, and Emmanuel Eneukwu who is the national vice chairman (South east).