The rift between Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his part, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may be far from over as reports have it that both parties are on opposing sides as to the appointment of principal officers – Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Whip – of the 8th Senate.
According to sources, Saraki recommended to the APC National Working Committeee (NWC) that the positions be allocated according to geo-political zones while the party leadership, especially “a certain leader from the South West” – who most people believe to be former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu – have decided that the positions be filled by people in the hierarchy of the APC.A Senator, who spoke anonymously in Abuja said the APC NWC, which held a meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2015 which ended in a deadlock as the party failed to agree on means of creating peace among aggrieved members. He also warned that if the matter was not addressed quickly, the APC will “face another round of crisis bigger than that that resulted from Saraki’s emergence as Senate president.”
He also said: “The Senate President, had after wide consultations, suggested how the officers to occupy these posts could be appointed. He suggested the allocation of the four principal offices to some of the geopolitical zones.
“But some leaders, who are still angry with his (Saraki) emergence, turned down his suggestion. Some of the influential leaders from the South-West are insisting that the party should fill the offices. This is in spite of the fact that the chairman of our party (John Odigie-Oyegun) and other members of the NWC are in support of allocating the principal offices to zones.
“The South-West leaders are even saying that allowing the party leadership to fill the offices, remained the only way to allow peace to reign in the Senate.”
Another pro-Saraki senator from the North-Central zone also confirmed the development, adding that the party leadership has insisted on hijacking the appointment of the principal officers.
He said: “By the Senate tradition, the party in majority normally sends the offices to the zones where the Senate caucuses would meet and choose among themselves in the zone, who occupies the offices.
“Some other leaders of the party are claiming that asking the party to produce the principal officers was a smart way to impose the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip on the Senate.
“Some of us were just called by some members of the NWC intimating us of details of a letter forwarded to the body that it should just fill the remaining four leadership positions in the Senate.
“In fact, the letter from the South-West leader is that the party must take charge and name its preferred candidates for the four offices.”
Attempts to reach the spokesperson for the pro-Saraki “Senators of Like Minds” group, Senator Dino Melaye proved abortive as his phone number was switched off.
Efforts to get the spokesperson for the pro – Saraki group, Dino Melaye, failed because his mobile phone was switched off
Spokesperson for the pro-party/pro-Ahmed Lawan “Senate Unity Forum”, Kabir Marafa, said the choice of the principal officers was the sole responsibility of the party leadership.
Marafa said: “How can the executive of the party at the zonal levels determine who will be made the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip?
“It is the party executive that would determine all these. So the party would write the Senate President. That is the tradition. It cannot be done at the zonal level, it is absurd. There should be due process in whatever things we do.”
When contacted, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed simply said: “No comment.”