The relevance and the majority status of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC at the upper legislative chamber of Nigeria may be as good be described 'dead' as the minority and the opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party has boasted that come what may, it will emerge as the next President of the Senate, should the current trial of the Dr. Bukola Saraki consumes him.
Indeed, Senators and other leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have stepped up their search for a successor to the embattled Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Their action is fuelled by startling revelations at the ongoing trial of Saraki for alleged false assets declaration by the Federal Government at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.
Some APC leaders, who spoke on the development in Abuja on Wednesday, observed that from the revelations made so far by witnesses at the CCT, it was expedient for the party to start the search for a new Senate President because Saraki will lack the morality and credibility to remain in office.
Already, most APC Senators who have been against Saraki from the onset met yesterday in Abuja to discuss the way forward for the party, especially on how to retain the Senate Presidency in the event of Saraki’s resignation or conviction by the CCT.
It was gathered that the meeting, which was held in Asokoro area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was at the instance of a leading figure in the ruling APC who has mobilised his loyalists in the Senate to move for the impeachment of Saraki, as well as strategise for his immediate replacement.
The meeting came even as the PDP Caucus in the Senate has insisted that Saraki would neither be forced to resign nor be impeached by the APC Senators. A member of the PDP Senate Caucus, Sen. Obinna Ogba, told The AUTHORITY that the opposition lawmakers were ready to protect the Senate President till the last day of the tribunal’s decision.
Ogba, who represents Ebonyi Central District of Ebonyi State, warned that the APC may lose the leadership of the Senate if they force Saraki out.
Ogba noted that the PDP would muster the numerical strength to take over the leadership of the Upper House if Saraki was forced out of office. He said: “I am sure the meeting of APC Senators is not to remove Senator Bukola Saraki. They may be meeting on how to patch their party that is collapsing. For your information, we are solidly behind him and that is why we have always accompanied him to the court. “They can only remove Saraki if he is convicted by the CCT or any other court. But I can assure you that if they remove him, we will not waste time to install a PDP Senate President because we have the numerical strength. We do not need to beg anybody.”
It was further gathered that of the 23 senators mainly from the PDP who were with Saraki at the court on Tuesday, only 19 accompanied Saraki to the CCT on Wednesday while majority of his colleagues in the APC stayed away.
A group of the APC senators who were said to have met secretly somewhere in the Asokoro district of FCT were said to have agreed to plead with Saraki to resign. A senator who attended the meeting said that they reviewed the proceedings at the court and concluded that the CCT judge might convict Saraki based on the evidence before him.
Rising from their meeting at the Abuja residence of Senator Magartarkada Wammako (Sokoto Central), the loyal Senators said for whatever it was worth, they would continue to stand firmly behind Saraki and ensure that his office was protected.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Senator Ibrahim Abdulrafiu reiterated the lawmakers’ stance that Saraki’s trial was a mere persecution and an attempt to tarnish his image. “We have since discovered that the trial of the Senate President is a mere attempt to blackmail him and make him look bad in the court of public opinion. No more, no less. A dispassionate analysis of the proceedings of the CCT has pointed to the fact that the APC-led Executive is still embittered against Dr. Saraki over the manner of his election as the Senate President,” he said.