APC govs wade into N/Assembly crisis
State governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have waded into the Presidency/ National Assembly faceoff over leadership of the legislature.
The feud has lingered for more than a year now since the All Progressives Congress (APC) won control of the National Assembly and the presidency in the April 28, 2015 general elections
But the National Assembly has enjoyed little peace since the election of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House Speaker.
Both Saraki and Dogara broke ranks with the party to contest the elections in both chambers and they won majorly with the backing of members of the opposition PDP.
After a two-hour meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, said the forum was concerned about the crisis in the parliament.
“We are concerned about the incessant happenings in
the National Assembly, and we have taken it upon ourselves to look into the matter,” Okorocha said.
Govs aims at enduring truce
Credible sources close to yesterday’s meeting between President Buhari and APC governors on how to resolve the National Assembly impasse said it’s going to be a long process because the aim was “to have an enduring truce.”
One of the sources, who is close to a leading APC governor from the North, said, “From what I gathered, the governors are trying to get a middle ground so that the protracted crisis that is creeping into the second year can be resolved.
“Both the president and the Senate leadership would shift ground; there would be compromise and sacrifice. Specifically, the president had noted that party supremacy must be respected, meaning, the Senate president must go back to square one and abide by the recommendation of the party before the inauguration of the 8th Assembly.
“Please try and get me right, I’m not saying that the president said Senate President Bukola Saraki must resign or not; this position is left for the outcome of the on-going negotiations and the governors are being circumspect in divulging some information to the media, so as not to jeopardize the process.
“But remember, the APC ab initio gave a list of names of those they wanted as presiding officers of the two chambers,” he said.
Another source said during a recent meeting between the APC governors and the president, which was not made known to the media, it was agreed that Saraki would reshuffle the Senate standing committees in order to accommodate some of the preferred candidates of the APC and by extension, the president.
“That was what prompted the recent change in the Senate but more is on the way,” he said.
Another source said on the other hand, President Buhari is expected to intervene and “soften” the prosecution of Saraki both at the Court of Conduct Tribunal and the normal court, where he is being tried alongside his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and others, over doctoring of the Senate rules.
Meeting not surprisingAPC
Both the national chairman of the APC, John OdigieOyegun and the national secretary, Mai Mala Buni have travelled to the United States.
However, the vice chairman of the APC for the North-West, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, said yesterday’s meeting was not surprising.
He said both the president and the governors rose to their various positions on the platform of the APC, and therefore, they could not fold their arms when there is a problem.
Asked whether it was the party that asked the governors to meet President Buhari, Abdulkadir said, “In democracy, various components have their responsibilities and those in executive positions, such as the governors and the president are fully aware of this.
“We must keep our house in order and as you’re aware, we are also doing our bidding at the party level.”
How the crisis started
After the 2015 general elections gave the APC victory, crisis erupted in the build up to the inauguration of the 8th Assembly.
Initially, the new ruling party, headed by Oyegun, had approached the President requesting that he should nominate those he felt should lead the two chambers of the Assembly.
He, however, reportedly told the party leadership that he did not want to interfere with the affairs of the National Assembly, saying each arm of the government should operate independently.
As the inauguration drew nearer, the APC showed preference for Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State, as its preferred candidate.
However, on the day of the inauguration of the National Assembly, the APC leadership called its legislators for a meeting at the International Conference Centre.
The election went on while APC legislators were awayand Saraki, who did not honour the invitation found his way to emerge as the Senate president.
On the other hand, the House of Representatives elected Yakubu Dogara Speaker which is also against the party’s preferred candidates, Femi Gbajabiamila.
That was the beginning of the problem
An attempt to resolve the issue was also rebuffed by the leadership of the National Assembly as the list of other principal officers submitted by the party was dismissed.
The Senate list had Majority Leader as Senator Ahmed Lawan, (North East); Chief Whip: Sen. Prof Sola Adeyeye (South West); Deputy Majority Leader: Sen. Dr George Akume (North Central); Deputy Chief Whip: Sen. Abu Ibrahim (North West).
The list for the House of Representatives had: House Leader: Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (South West); Deputy House Leader: Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (North West); Chief Whip: Hon. M.T. Monguno (North East); Deputy Chief Whip: Hon. Pally Iriase (South South).
But after a long delay in the constitution of principal officers, Saraki rejected the party’s list and named Ali Ndume, Senate Leader; Sen. Olusola Adeyeye, Chief Whip; Francis Alimikhena, Deputy Whip; and Bala Na’Allah, Deputy Senate Leader in defiance of the APC NWC. He left out Lawan, Akume and Ibrahim.
Dogara, who initially rejected the party’s list of the choice of the principal positions, citing Federal Character principle, later succumbed. He adopted the list with slight change. He finally accepted Gbajabiamila as House Leader after pressure. Dogara also settled for Ado Garba Alhassan as Chief Whip instead of Deputy Majority Leader. Rep Iriase got the position of Deputy Chief Whip as suggested by the party, while Rep Umar Buba Jibril took the position of Deputy Majority Leader against the party’s directive.
But the formula adopted in the House doused tension contrary to what happened in the Senate, where the warring factions had failed to observe a ceasefire amid senate rule forgery case brought against Senate President Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
Governors of the All Progressives Congress after their meeting with President Muhammmadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday