APC Factions In National Assembly Exchange Words Over Election Of Principal Officers

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Yesterday’s skirmishes were over the choice of leaders and whips of the All Progressives Congress (APC) among its senators and also in the House of Represeentatives where supporters of the Speaker Yakubu Dogara resisted the choices presented by the party leadership.

Dogara’s associates, according to high level sources in the House, are opposed to the party’s choice of Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila as House Leader as they alleged that his choice after the emergence of the Deputy Speaker from Osun State would distort the zoning configuration of the leadership.

A Senate caucus meeting which held yesterday was preceded by a late night meeting on Monday in Senate Hearing Room One attended by about 40 APC senators where it was resolved to break down the divisions in the party following the contest for Senate President.

At yesterday’s plenary, Senator Saraki had announced the APC caucus meeting for 2 p.m. with an urge on all APC senators to attend. About 40 APC Senators were present.

“It is time to bury the hatchet and renew that spirit of love, cooperation and trust in one another,” Saraki said at the meeting. “We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the people around us or be carried away by the noise our there. Let us remain focused and determined.”

Although the meeting agreed that the North-East caucus would produce the Senate Leader while the North-West would produce the deputy with the Senate Chief Whip going to the South-West and the Deputy Chief Whip going the way of the South-South. But Saraki’s words were apparently not enough, as Senator Lawan’s appearance at the meeting changed the mood.

Lawan’s supporters who are still hurt by his loss of the Senate presidency to Saraki announced that they must follow the dictates of the party which they claimed had already pencilled down names for all the positions, a position Saraki’s supporters moved against. They insisted on the election of principal officers by the Senate caucuses. A heated debate ensued and near fisticuffs followed.

The APC was reported to have sent a list that had Senator Lawan as Senate Leader, Senator George Akume, Deputy Leader; Senator Olusola Adeyeye, Senate Chief Whip and Senator Abu Ibrahim, Deputy Chief Whip.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) said although his colleagues were not privy to the conversation between the fighting senators, other senators had to intervene before the situation degenerated.

Also speaking to newsmen, Senator Abu Ibrahim, Katsina South said: “The party has come out with its own position and some people are trying to rush to sabotage the party ‘s position. We will see whether the Senate President will heed the party’s directives.”

Senator Hunkuyi (Kaduna North) on his part, insisted that the party should have the right of appointing senators for the four positions. “The issue of leadership of the chamber that belongs to the group of the APC, cannot be decided here. It is common reasoning and common sense. We have a leadership for the party. The leadership of the party, that is, the APC still reigns supreme to decide the four positions of leadership, where it should go and who shall have it. An attempt here to do otherwise is the cause of this rancour.

“Simply put, the cause of the rancour is an attempt by the leadership that has emerged, in otherwise fishy circumstances to again force their will on the majority of the Senators of the APC.”

Senator Ibrahim Danbaba, Sokoto South, however dismissed the position of the two senators. According to him, the senators at the meeting on Monday night agreed that the zones should produce the leaders allotted to them.

“He (Hunkuyi) didn’t get to know what has been said and the arrangements that were made and agreement that was reached. We all agreed that we will go and meet in caucuses, that is to say the Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate has been zoned to North-East, Deputy Majority Leader zoned to North-West and the Chief Whip zoned to South-West and then the Deputy Chief Whip is zoned to South-South.

“That was where we were when these people came in and suddenly when they came in, they said no, it is the party secretariat that is going to decide who takes the position. And of course, they were making it very obvious that the party leadership is on the side of what we believe now is extinct, that is, the Unity Forum,” he said.



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