APC crisis: Governors asked to confront Saraki, Dogara, group dares party over principal officers

The state governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been asked to invite their senators and prevail on them on the need to respect party supremacy on any matter.

This matching order has been given to them during a late night meeting between the governors and President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

The meeting which was held behind closed-doors ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

This is coming as the group of legislators supporting the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have insisted on defying the party’s position on who should be appointed into the top leadership positions of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

The APC had on Tuesday wrote separate letters to the Senate President and Speaker directing them to adopt their former opponents who lost at the elections as principal officers.

The party ordered that Senators Ahmed Lawan be appointed as Senate Leader; Sola Adeyeye as Chief Whip; George Akume as Deputy Senate Leader; and Abu Ibrahim as Deputy Whip.

And for the House Representatives: Femi Gbajabiamila as House Leader, Mohammed Monguno Chief Whip; Alhassan Doguro Deputy Speaker; and Pally Iriase as Deputy Whip.

The group of legislators have however insisted that the legislative tradition of asking causes to either appoint or elect principal officers after they have been zoned.

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who led other APC governors to speak to State House correspondents said that he and his colleagues were worried by the development in the National Assembly and decided to rub minds with the President on the matter.

Okorocha described the meeting with the President as more reassuring, adding that there is light at the dark end of the tunnel.

He said: “With all these achievements and progress we are making, we are worried by the pockets of disagreements going on at the National Assembly.

“We have resolved that we came from a party and our party’s views should be respected.

“So, we feel that there is the need for us to invite our senators and look more into the matter and see how we can all make peace.

“We believe that everyone should respect our party from which we all came from and for that reason, we have decided that we are going to invite our senators and rub minds with them.

“We are saying that there should not be a winner-takes-it-all; that we should carry everybody along and accommodate others as suggested by the party.”

Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State added that they agreed that senators should adopt the position of the party.

“We were all elected on the platform of the party. We are not just a collection of individuals, we are a political party and when the party has spoken we must listen, otherwise if it was a game of individuals like golf then individuals can go their way.

“I think it is very clear at this point that the party has the responsibility to keep the system going, so we as progressive governors, we have listened to the President and we have discussed extensively and we are clear that the party’s position should be supported by the senators.

“This is the way it should be and we should start on a note of working closely. We as governors, we listen to the party, we expect our senators to also listen to the party.

“We are going to call them and tell them this is it and explain our reasons, it is about party supremacy.”

The meeting, which started at about a few minutes before 11pm on Tuesday, was attended by 16 APC governors.

However there are indications that while Mr. Dogara has agreed to a power sharing arrangement with the party, Mr. Saraki has vowed not to adopt any of the party’s nominees for the positions.

A party source who spoke to the premium times said, “What Dogara is saying is that if the party takes the House Leader, a member from his group should be the Chief Whip and so on. But Saraki is not ready to comply with the party’s directives at all.

“You know why Saraki is doing like that and making the party to be at his mercy? He is confident the party cannot mobilise the two-thirds majority to remove him,” the party official said.

He said the party was not prepared to negotiate its directives with any of the two leaders this time.

“The party has written letters to both the Senate President and the Speaker. What the party is expecting is compliance; nothing but compliance.”

When asked what the party intends to do should Saraki and Dogara went ahead against partys’s position, he said, “We are expecting him to do that. We are waiting for him. We shall wait for him.”

Srnator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi) who is the spokesperson of the Saraki group said they were not prepared to compensate those who lost out in the election for the senate president position.

“Saraki has won the election and become Senate President and everybody should live with it. And I don’t know for the man who contested for the Senate President but now lobbying to be Leader. It is like contesting for governor and then looking to be Commissioner. They should have pride.”

The Saraki group wants the positions zoned by the Senate as follows: Majority Leader, North-East; Deputy Majority Leader, North-West; Chief Whip, South-West; and Deputy Whip, South-South.

By contrast, lawmakers in support of the party said the APC must fill all the available positions.

The deadlock yesterday caused a rumble as senators elected on the platform of the party almost threw physical punches at each other until some other members intervened to save the situation from degenerating further.

In the House, the situation was not different as the presentation of new officers was again deferred upon the resistance of associates of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who are opposed to the choices presented by the party leadership.

Dogara’s associates are opposed to the party’s choice of Femi Gbajabiamila as House Leader as they alleged that his choice after the emergence of the Deputy Speaker from Osun State would distort the zoning configuration of the leadership.

The meeting which held behind closed doors in Room 3: 01 with about 40 APC Senators present. Saraki was said to have called for unity, saying it was time to put the past behind.
He said: “It is time to bury the hatchet and renew that spirit of love, cooperation and trust in one another. The leadership of our party expect us to hit the ground running, and the Nigeria populace are waiting to see us in action to deliver on our promises and commitment. Let us start this journey of unity today and let the world see that yes, in the 8th Senate, we are one family. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the people around us or be carried away by the noise out there. Let us remain focused and determined.”

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