By saying that APC is ready to work with Senator Saraki as the senate president despite the initial opposition from the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun seems to have doused the tension in the party. However, it is not yet Uhuru for Saraki and his group as there are tough conditions given by aggrieved senators, which fulfillment may mean danger for the new senate president writes EMMA ALOZIE
Less than three days after the All Progressives Congress, APC vowed to deal with its errant members who defied the party and connived with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to become leaders of the 8th National Assembly, the party made a humbling U-turn pledging to work with both Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Yakubu Dogara as senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.
The party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun made this dramatic U-turn for the party after conferring with President Muhammadu Buhari. Chief Oyegun said that what happened had happened and that the party would have to learn to live with the reality. “Of course he (Senator Saraki) has been duly elected by his colleagues. We have a reality and we must live with it,” he admitted.
He noted that the party had come in contact with its own fair share of challenges and said, “this too shall pass away”.
But while conceding defeat, he put a caveat saying the party would not prevail on the aggrieved senators not to pursue the matter in the court. “People say they are going to court which is their right, but as a party we are looking at everything and we are coming out strong,” he said.
Chief Oyegun’s admission of reality quiet contradicts with the position of the party two days earlier, which it communicated through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who had insisted that the party would apply sanctions albeit through due process. “The sanctions will follow due process. The party has made it clear that it is not happy with the outcome of the election”. He said the erring members will be sent a letter notifying them of their misconduct and then given an opportunity to respond.
Lai Mohammed’s combative approach followed Bola Tinubu’s avowal that he would never recognize Saraki as senate president. Tinubu, the foremost national leader of the party never minced words in showing his shock and disappointment in what he termed as gross impunity on the part of Saraki.
“I will never recognise such a kangaroo arrangement that produced Bukola as the Senate President. Or how do you want me to recognise a man who deliberately defied his own party because of his personal interest? It is not done anywhere. Therefore, recognising Bukola as the Senate President after all he had done to our party today, having gone against the wish and pattern of our great party, honestly will amount to endorsing impunity, and which you should all know I will not.
“For me to recognise Senator Bukola as the Senate President, he must show remorse for today’s action. He had earlier promised to defy the party and the deed has been done. You don’t do that in politics,” a visibly wounded Tinubu said.
Despite what seems like a lull in the combustible situation the party found itself last week, insiders believe that the prevailing calm is full of unease and the peace can be likened to the peace of the graveyard, especially given the party’s reluctance in persuading the lawmakers loyal to Lawan/Tinubu camp to sheath their sword.
For instance, the spokesperson of the Lawan camp, Senator Kabir Marafa (APC Zamfara) has given a condition to the Saraki’s Camp for truce and peace building. According to Senator Marafa, the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu must resign to allow a senator from the Lawan Camp to emerge as deputy senate president. Senator Marafa’s contention is that the election that brought Senator Ekweremadu as the deputy senate president was irregular as he (Ekweremadu) needed 55 votes to clinch the deputy’s seat, rather he only got 54.
“We demand that Senator Ike Ekweremadu must resign his position because he needed at least 55 senators to emerge as deputy senate president. Ekweremadu is a lawyer and an experienced lawmaker. He knows he is not qualified to win the election with 54 votes,” Senator Marafa said.
The Unity Group, which is the group of senators loyal to Tinubu in the struggle for the soul of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly, not only demanded for the resignation of Ekweremadu as the deputy senate president, but they also called for full scale investigation into the decision of the Clerk of the National Assembly to conduct the election when he was aware that the President had summoned us to a meeting. To some analyst, this does not seem like the stance of a group desirous of an end to the debacle that has engulfed the party.
The condition of Ekeremadu’s resignation is one that the Saraki camp may not swallow without the required scrutiny. To those loyal to Saraki, this condition has all the marks of bait meant to ensnare the senate president into the net of his enemies for the kill.
This has left Saraki and his loyalists with two very tough choices to make; either of which may have its array of consequences. The resignation of Senator Ekweremadu and the enthronement of a senator from the Lawan group as Saraki’s deputy may look fence-mending from the surface, but deep down, it has a lot of downs for the continued retention of the senate presidency by Saraki. It would seem as if it would restore peace to the party and make the party hierarchy to embrace Saraki and work with him, however, the end of that bargain lurks a grievous danger for Saraki.
If Saraki in order to pacify his party members instigates the resignation of Ekweremadu, he would have succeeded in alienating a huge power bloc that he can always count on in times of crisis from the party, which is sure to come. Saraki understands that with his continued romance with the opposition elements of the PDP, he can be sure of a bulwark on which to lean when his party comes for his jugulars. So acceding to the demand to Ekweremadu’s resignation would amount to handing back the advantage to those who want him (Saraki) strangulated.
He well understands that if Ekweremadu is removed, the PDP would just stand askance and watch the Tinubu bloc remove him (Saraki) without batting an eyelid.
On the other hand, rebuffing conditions for truce and fence mending by his party may compel the party to dig deeper in order to pull the rug off his feet. Whichever way Saraki looks at it, he is sandwiched between a rock and a hard place and whatever moves he makes now must be deft in order to sidestep the proverbial banana peels.