- APC kicks, threatens expulsion
- I’m ready to work with them – Buhari
As exclusively reported by Nigerian Pilot yesterday, the battle for the leadership of the 8th National Assembly was between the All Progressives Congress, APC, led by former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, led by former Governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki. True to the newspapers assertion, Saraki’s nPDP floored Tinubu’s APC in the contest.
What took place yesterday at the National Assembly election was like a palace coup where many of the APC Senators-elect were still at the International Conference Centre, ICC, venue of the emergency meeting summoned by the party’s hierarchy and was supposed to be addressed by President Muhammadu Buhari. While the pro-Tinubu senators-elect were waiting, that they heard the news that Senator Saraki had been sworn-in as the new Senate President.
Rushing back to the National Assembly to discover the humongous damage, the APC decided to mobilize for the last remaining prize which is the Speaker. But it was a shade too late as the PDP also used the same method to deal a devastating blow to the APC as Dogara emerged Speaker.
The party’s preferred candidates, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon Femi Gbajabiamila for Senate President and House Speaker, respectively, were beaten square by candidates of the PDP.
At exactly, 10:30am, PDP and nPDP lawmakers supporting Dogara, went wild in jubilation after getting wind of the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
This prompted them to start singing: “All We Are Saying, Give Us Dogara”, “All We Are Saying, Give Us Dogara”, “Solidarity For Dogara, Solidarity For Dogara, We Will Always Fight For Our Right.”
When Dogara walked into the chamber around 10:11am, the shout of “Sai Dogara” rented the air, led by the PDP caucus leader, Hon. Leo Ogor.
But when Gbajabiamila walked into the chamber by 11:03am, he was greeted with boos and cheers.
Shortly after announcing the results, Dogara was immediately sworn-in by the National Assembly Clerk.
Maikasuwa said 358 lawmakers participated in the exercise. He further revealed that there were two void votes and two absentees.
One of the absentee was the late Hon. Sheik Umar Abubakar, who died last week Wednesday. Until his death, the late lawmaker was representing Katsina Central in the lower chamber.
Dogara, who represents Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State pulled 182 votes to defeat his closest rival, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who scored 174 votes.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, presided over the election, which commenced at about 1:20pm and ended at exactly 3:30pm. The actual counting of votes commenced at 3:35pm.
In his acceptance speech titled: “We Shall Wage an Unrelenting Legislative War on Nigeria’s Problem”, the Speaker promised to enhance the independence and autonomy of the House while maintaining a robust and cooperative relationship with the executive.
He assured that he will overhaul the budgetary processes of the National Assembly and improve the oversight coordination and processes.
The Speaker also vowed to strengthen the committees of the House of Representatives as well as make the allowances and running cost of the legislature transparent and accountable.
A mild drama played out when the PDP caucus leader in the House, Hon. Leo Ogor, staged a walkout shortly before the voting for the Deputy Speaker commenced.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that he was angry for not being nominated for the Deputy Speaker’s position.
APC kicks, threatens expulsion
Expectedly, the APC has kicked against the emergence of both Saraki and Dogara ahead of the party’s preferred candidates. In press statement by the party’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party described their actions as high party indiscipline and promised to wield the big stick of discipline.
‘’Senator Bukola and Hon. Dogara are not the candidates of the APC and a majority of its National Assembly members-elect for the positions of Senate President and House Speaker. The party duly met and conducted a straw poll and clear candidates emerged for the posts of Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, supported by a majority of all Senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives. All National Assembly members-elect who emerged on the platform of the party are bound by that decision.
‘’The party is supreme and its interest is superior to that of its individual members. Consequently, the APC leadership is meeting in a bid to reestablish discipline in the party and to mete out the necessary sanctions to all those involved in what is nothing but a monumental act of indiscipline and betrayal to subject the party to ridicule and create obstacles for the new administration ‘’ the party said.
The party described Saraki’s alliance with the opposition PDP as unholy and said it was fuelled by inordinate ambition. ‘’There can be no higher level of treachery, disloyalty and insincerity within any party,’’ the party said, vowing to resolve the matter using all constitutional and legal means available to it.
I’ll work with new leaders – Buhari
Meanwhile, the party seems to be on a different page with President Muhammadu Buhari who is supposed to be the leader of the party. While the party threatens to wield the big stick, the President has congratulated the new leaders of 8th NASS vowing to work with them irrespective of the mode of their emergence.
In a statement signed by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina yesterday, said the President noted the development and would work with the new leadership to move the country forward.
“The President would rather that the process of electing the leaders as initiated and concluded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been followed. Nonetheless the President took the view that a constitutional process has somewhat occurred.
“President Buhari had said in an earlier statement that he did not have any preferred candidate for the Senate and the House of Representatives, and that he was willing to work with whoever the lawmakers elected,” Adesina said.
“That sentiment still stands. Though he would have preferred the new leaders to have emerged through the process established by the party.”
Adesina stressed that the stability of our constitutional order and overall interest of the common man were uppermost on the President’s mind, as far as the National Assembly elections were concerned.
The President called on all the elected representatives of the people to focus on the enormous task of bringing enduring positive change to the lives of Nigerians.
Odigie-Oyegun’s job may come under focus
With this defeat, there is clear unease in the hierarchy of the ruling APC. Already, there are mooted calls for the National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun to resign. Party insiders say that ranking members of the party were devastated, pointing accusing fingers at the chairman who they believe did not handle the matter well. There are strong signals that the calls for his resignation will be louder in the days ahead, given the way he handled the crisis that led to the failure of the party.