The ongoing peace talks of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senate caucus have upset the alliance of the Senate president Bukola Saraki with the senators of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Resting on the strength of the PDP on June 9 last year, Saraki emerged the Senate president against the wish of the APC leadership. His party had preferred Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North) but he dribbled the party to clinch the seat. As at then, the APC had 59 and the PDP had 49 senators.
Since then, it has been from one crisis to the other for the Senate president, the heir of the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara State. The crisis was solely in the caucus of the APC as the PDP were united.
Apparently, to settle the PDP senators for their support towards his emergence, Saraki rewarded them with committees considered to be juicier than the ones allocated to members of his party, excluding the former governors.
It was in November last year that he constituted the committees and gave APC 41 and PDP 24. Specifically, it was gathered that Saraki jerked up the committees from 57 to 65 without amending the Senate standing rules, to accommodate his supporters.
Not satisfied with the constitution of the committees, spokesman of the Unity Forum of Lawan, Senator Kabiru Marafa, kicked against the increase in the number of committees, saying it was done in violation of their rules.
Until three weeks ago, the APC Senate caucus has been in red with the Lawan’s camp dishing out missiles at intervals.
For instance, when Saraki lost his bid to stop his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Marafa apparently acting the script of his camp called for the resignation of Senate president.
Saraki is facing a 13-count charge at the CCT bordering on false assets declaration while he was governor of Kwara State. Though, members of Saraki’s camp have reaffirmed their support for him, the call for his resignation caused uproar at the National Assembly.
The feud in the APC camp almost led to the suspension of one of the party’s senators. Marafa’s case at the ethics, privileges and public petitions committee is still hanging. The committee has recommended his suspension.
Realising the danger of the crack in their fold, three weeks ago, the APC caucus began a truce moves. Before the start of the peace talks, there were reports that the Senate presidency could be hijacked by the PDP in case Saraki falls.
The APC talks started from the office of a ranking senator from the north with key players of the two camps in attendance. The truce talks have since then become regular with former governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko playing a lead role.
Sources told our correspondent that five people have been elected from each of the camps.
The Saraki camp is being represented by Ahmed Sani Yarima (APC, Zamfara West), Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), Adamu Aliero ( Kebbi Central), Wamakko and Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe central).
The Lawan camp, Unity Forum, was represented by Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi(APC, Kaduna North), Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), Gbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos East) Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South) and Lawan (APC, Yobe North).
It was gathered that at the meeting of truce committee held at the Abuja residence of Wamakko, the camps unanimously agreed to amend the Senate standing orders to reflect the eight newly created committees.
Also, the truce committee has agreed that the composition of the 65 committees be reviewed to accommodate APC senators that were sidelined in the present arrangement.
Wamakko and Marafa have since confirmed the ongoing truce talk, and said it was in the interest of their party and the generality of Nigerians.
With the accord, our correspondent reports that some of the committees allocated to the PDP senators may be taken and reallocated to the APC senators.
A senator from Lawan’s camp told our correspondent that they are planning to complete the truce talk before the end of the Easter break.
“We have agreed to legalise the newly created committees. We also agreed to adjust the membership of the committees to carry members of our party along. We are yet to finalise talks on the last condition which is to respect our party’s position,” he said.
One of the senators in Saraki’s camp who attended the meeting told our correspondent that the truce move was yielding the desired result.
“If you look at the Senate now, you will appreciate the importance of our truce talks. It is our party that Nigerians voted for and not the PDP, so we will not allow them to hijack our success,” he said.
To counter the APC moves, the PDP senators on Wednesday through Thursday had marathon meetings where the issue and others were discussed. The PDP National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff attended the first leg of the PDP Senate caucus.
One of the senators that attended the meeting said they reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of their party.
“You know the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, is our political armoury and arsenal. We will utilise it very well to launch our party,” a senator from the southeast said.
But in a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the Senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, said INEC had no reason whatsoever to withhold the results of Rivers State rerun elections, where three senatorial seats are being contested.
The PDP senators also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to support the ongoing commission of enquiry investigating the killings in the Rivers re-run elections with a view to bringing perpetrators to justice .
The communique reads: “The caucus noted the reports from the just concluded rerun elections in Rivers State, particularly the declaration of results in units, wards and local government collation centres and resolved accordingly:
“That lNEC should as a matter of urgency, release the outstanding results in the Rivers State rerun elections particularly results that were collated from all polling units/wards/local government areas in their possession with immediate effect.”
How APC, PDP stand at Senate
Our correspondent reports that at the inception of the Senate in June last year, the APC had firm control of the upper chamber with 59, PDP 48 senators and the seat of Borno Central was vacant.
The parties maintained the number until in November when Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai was sworn for the Borno Central senatorial district, thus APC added one, making 60.
It was observed that the nullification of some senatorial district elections in November and December gave PDP an upper hand at the red chamber.
In the north, the PDP won two senatorial seats in Nasarawa South and Kogi Central, while the APC only got one, Taraba Central.
At the moment, the APC has 58, PDP 44 and LP has a senator in the person of Ovie Omo-Agege of Delta Central. The re-run for six senatorial districts are being conducted.
Excerpted from Daily Trust
Excerpted from Daily Trust