Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who has been at loggerheads with his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu over his victory at the National Assembly (NASS) elections is set for another showdown as the latter has reportedly penned down names of preferred candidates to occupy the Senate Principal Offices – Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Whip.
According to Punch Tinubu had arranged with some members of the party leadership to install Senator Ahmed Lawan – who failed in his Tinubu-backed bid to become Senate President – as Senate Leader and former Benue State Governor, George Akume as Deputy Senate Leader.
According to the report, Tinubu had already named Professor Olusola Adeyeye (Osun) and Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina as Senate Chief Whip and deputy respectively.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja on behalf of the Saraki faction of Senators were former Zamfara State Governor, Ahmed Sani-Yerima and former Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje, who said they would resist all attempts by the APC leadership to impose candidates on the Upper Chambers as the decision was the sole responsibility of the regional caucuses in the House.
Yerima, while describing the moves as illegal, added that “there can never be imposition of candidates on the chamber by the party leadership.
“As far as I’m concerned, the party cannot impose leadership on us. It is unconstitutional and against the rules of the Senate.
“The Senate Majority Leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Senate Chief Whip; Deputy Chief Whip were elected by their zonal caucuses in the Seventh Senate and the case of the Eighth Senate cannot be different.
“The best thing the party can do, given the circumstances, is to give us directives. Any attempt to impose will be resisted and this will further divide the party.
“We should follow due process. Allowing the party to impose a leadership on the Senate President is to make him to fail because he cannot be forced to work with his rivals.
“We are committed to giving President Buhari protection in the Senate. What we are doing is definitely not against the President.”
On his part, Goje said: “By trying to impose another set of leaders on the National Assembly is to cause further crisis in the party. It will complicate matters and generate further crisis in the National Assembly.
Spokesperson for the pro-Lawan senators, Kabir Marafa, said the Saraki group was wrong as the decision was the responsibility of the party leadership.
he said: “It is not possible for the executive of the party at the zonal levels to determine who will be made the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip, and the Deputy Chief Whip. It has never happened and it won’t happen this time around.
“The party executive must determine all the occupants of the four principal offices. The party will write the Senate President. That is the tradition. It cannot be done at the zonal level. We must follow due process.”