Saraki’s Office: APC, PDP Senators All Set For The Big Fight

The weeks and months ahead will be very interesting, with regards to political developments and the quest for “control” in Nigeria’s seat of power, Abuja.

There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress senators and their Peoples Democratic Party counterparts are heading for a big showdown.

This is even as the National Assembly reconvenes on Tuesday. The Punch reliably gathered on Friday that the bone of contention bordered on what should be discussed at the plenary on Tuesday.

It was learnt that senators, who are loyal to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, were insisting that the only agenda would be the consideration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget for the 2019 elections.

The anti-Saraki lawmakers on the other hand, said nothing was sacrosanct, adding that they could raise the issue of the leadership of the senate.

Following the defection of the Senate President and 13 other senators from the APC to the PDP, the ruling party had called on Saraki to resign.

But the Senate President on Wednesday said he would resign only if two-thirds of senators passed a vote of no confidence in him.

A pro-Saraki senator, who confided in The Punch, said, “On Tuesday our focus will be INEC budget. Those who think we will debate majority and leadership issues are wasting their time.”

But another senator, who is opposed to Saraki, said, “No issue is sacrosanct. Saraki’s issue will come up on Tuesday.”

We’ll seek Saraki’s exit at every opportunity, says Omo-Agege 
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is a member of the Parliamentary Support Group, a group of President Muhammadu Buhari’s loyalists in the National Assembly, said the APC senators would use every opportunity to seek Saraki’s exit from the senate presidency.

According to him, there are legal and moral reasons for Saraki to quit the Senate presidency.

He said, “The moment Saraki defected from the APC to the minority party, PDP, he no longer has the moral, political and legal rights to remain as the Senate President. We have requested of him to step down. We have requested of him to do the honourable thing, to do the needful by stepping down. It is a request we are going to continue to make and any opportunity we have, we are going to insist that he must step down.”

PDP senator dares APC lawmakers 
But one of those who defected from the APC to the PDP, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, dared anti-Saraki lawmakers to come to the Senate and impeach the Senate President. He insised that only two-thirds majority of anti-Saraki lawmakers could effect his impeachment.

He recalled that the Senate President had at the press conference on Wednesday said he was ready to leave the seat once the constitutional requirement was met.

Ibrahim, in an interview with The Punch, said, “Let them come to the chamber when we open and let them come and carry out the impeachment. All they need for the impeachment is about 74. If they can get the signatures of 74 members and they will be there; if they can stand up for division and we can see them, then they will have their way. That is the beauty of democracy.”

APC has lost its majority — Olujimi 
In her submission, the Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi, argued that the APC had lost its majority status in the chamber, noting that the PDP had the same number with the ruling party.

The Senate principal officer dismissed the calls by the APC, its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and Prof. Itse Sagay for Saraki’s resignation on moral grounds.

She recalled that PDP senators voted more for Saraki to become the Senate President than the APC.

Olujimi said, “I don’t understand what they are saying because they need two-thirds majority to remove him. They should bring the numbers, that is all. They don’t need to talk on the pages of newspapers. They don’t even have a simple majority right now, we are equal.”

Asked to explain the configuration of senators and their parties in the Senate, the lawmaker said, “There are two in ADC, two in APGA, two are dead and one is incarcerated (jailed Senator Joshua Dariye). That is seven. Take that from the total 109, you will get 102. Each of the PDP and the APC has 51 members.”

Speaking on the call for Saraki’s resignation on moral grounds, Olujimi said, “What is morality in 51-51. He is sitting atop same number as theirs. It is a different case if they have 70 or at least 65, then their majority will be clear.

“Again, how many of them were party to our electing the Senate President? Just a handful of them. It was majorly by PDP senators. Out of the 53 votes he got, we gave him 42 of them. So, what are they talking about? Fifty-three senators put him there, though we were not complete then but we gave him 42 votes. They should be rational.”

All issues will be sorted out after annual recess – Saraki 
When contacted, Saraki, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said issues arising from defections, which should be dealt with at plenary, would be sorted out when the Senate resumes fully from its eight-week annual recess. 

Olaniyonu stated this in a phone interview with The Punch in Abuja, while responding to a question on whether the Senate President would declare the seat of the former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio vacant.

Akpabio defected from the PDP to the APC on Wednesday. He said, “As far as we are concerned, we are on recess now. When the Senate reconvenes, every issue will be sorted out at plenary.”

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