Combatants in the raging intra-party crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, are yet to sheathe their swords.
Indications that the key actors are still in the trenches emerged yesterday when a meeting the Senate President, Bukola Saraki fixed with the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and members of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, in Abuja, failed to hold.
The Senate President’s media aide, Mr. Bamikole Omisore, had sent out a message to journalists that, “His Excellency, Distinguished Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, will be at APC Secretariat at 12:45pm to meet the chairman and NWC. Press, please take note.”
But a few minutes later, he sent another message apologising over the cancellation of the meeting.
He said: “Apologies, meeting has been cancelled” and declined to state any reason for the development.
Saraki emerged Senate President unopposed on Tuesday after the proclamation of the 8th National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari after his opponent and APC’s candidate for the position, Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) and his supporters stayed away from the event.
Saraki would still have won the contest if the absentee APC senators were in attendance due to the massive support he received from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators.
His botched meeting with the APC is the first peace move Saraki had openly made to the aggrieved party leaders since he became Senate President.
The APC leadership had soon after Saraki’s emergence as Senate President, disowned him and threatened to sanction him for treachery.
Leave NASS Clerk, Commission alone, PDP tells Presidency, APC
Meanwhile, the PDP national leadership has cautioned the Presidency and APC against any attempt to intimidate or harass the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the National Assembly Service Commission for performing their statutory functions during the inauguration of the National Assembly.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday, warned that any attempt by the APC to transfer their frustration, which was a product of their ineptitude, would amount to witch-hunt and victimisation.
The party said the undertone of the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu that the Clerk was adequately requested to shift the time for the inauguration to enable the President address the APC legislators but he ignored it “amounts to putting undue pressure on civil servants in the National Assembly for performing their legitimate duties and sends a serious signal which should not be ignored.”
It described as unfortunate the fact that the APC displayed its arrogance and disrespect for the dictates of the constitution by attempting to adjust the President’s promulgation order on the National Assembly and seeking to put their interest over and above the supreme laws of the land.
“It is a clear mark of disrespect to the constitution for the President and his party to fix a meeting for him to address their legislators the same time he had directed the Assembly to be inaugurated in line with the constitution. For 16 years that PDP nurtured democracy in this country, there was never a day it attempted to arm-twist or intimidate the bureaucracy of the National Assembly to do its bidding given our recognition and respect for the independence and sanctity of the legislative arm.
“The National Assembly is the citadel of democracy and represents the collective voice of all Nigerians. The PDP, even in opposition will continue to protect its sanctity and will therefore resist any attempt by the APC to undermine its independence and those of other democratic institutions in our country”, the statement said.
The party noted that the position of the APC and the Presidency clearly negates President Buhari’s well-received and praised assertion in his inaugural speech that he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody as Nigeria’s President.
“By the last minute attempt to shift the inauguration time for party interest, the President violates his Presidential oath to defend the constitution and serve the nation without fear or favour and irrespective of party, religion and tribe, as he did not consider the interests of other political parties and the generality of Nigerians”, the party said.
The PDP said emerging events have continued to justify its position that the APC is ill-equipped and unprepared for the enormous challenge of ruling the country adding that such became glaring in the way and manner the APC handled a very vital issue like the inauguration of the National Assembly.
“From March 28, 2015 to June 9th, the APC had about 74 days within which it was expected to put its house in order and present its leaders for the 8th National Assembly, but it could not because of the greed and selfishness of its so-called godfathers who instead chose to fix their party meeting the same time the President scheduled for the inauguration of the National Assembly”.
The PDP said rather than vilify the Clerk of the National Assembly, the APC should commend him for his patriotic and courageous stand that has helped minimize the embarrassment the shifting would have brought to the country internationally given that it has been announced to take place at a particular time on Tuesday.
The party therefore charged the Presidency and APC to apologise to Nigerians for the embarrassment their ineptitude and inexperience has been causing the nation since they came into office.