A serious cold war has reportedly brewed between the embattled President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives counterpart, Speaker Yakubu Dogara over the recent imbroglio on the 2016 appropriation bill, which was said to be padded at the national assembly and the tussle over who succeed the out-going assembly clerk, Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa, News Punch understands
Report by Daily Independent suggests that the leadership of the apex law making body of Nigeria from the side of the Commission (National Assembly Service Commission) on the one hand, and the political heads of the institution on the other are currently embroiled in another round of power tussle over who succeeds Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa as the next Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA).
The controversy has refused to die down with new twists being added to the already invidious moves by politicians and bureaucratic eggheads. This is making the narrative of how not to make Mr. Benedict Efeturi, the current Deputy Clerk of National Assembly, the successor to Maikasuwa or why Mr. Mohammed Sani Omolori should not jump the gun to a position that some said is not rightly his, look like a very strategically-treacherous game of chess.
While the latest but unconfirmed update coming from the Service Commission is that seven out of the 11 commissioners who were said to have initially voted for Omolori to be Acting Clerk have now written a counter-letter saying that Efeturi should be made acting Clerk.
There are also indications that the leadership of the National Assembly is sharply divided over who should be the right successor. This is following feelers from both camps indicating that sides have being taken, leading to a certain cold war brewing between, Senator Bukola Saraki, the President of the Senate, who is the chairman of the National Assembly, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as Dr. Adamu Fika, the chairman of the Service Commission.
First to beat the war drum was the latter who issued a letter of appointment to Mr. Omolori on April 20, 2016 informing him to prepare to take over from the retiring Salisu Maikasuwa, an act the Senate President saw as a slight and undermining his position by the commission’s chief executive.
Saraki had according to the rejection letter written on his behalf by Isa Galaudu, his Chief of Staff, insisted that the letter written to Omolori by the commission announcing his appointment be withdrawn forthwith. President of the Senate/Chairman, National Assembly had noted that Mr. Benedict Efeturi who is the current Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly but who still sits in the Senate Chamber during plenary, despite having a substantive Clerk of the Senate should instead be the one to be so appointed.
However, in a returned fire by the commission via a memo dated April 26, 2016, with reference number NASC/CHO/PS/II/II/28, the President of the Senate was told unequivocally that his desire to reverse the appointment of Clerk to the House of Representatives, Sani Omolori, as the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly was not possible.
Sources within the Saraki camp disclosed anonymously to Independent that the commission was colluding with the outgoing Clerk and some highly placed politicians within the House of Reps and outside the National Assembly to take advantage of Saraki’s travail at the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he is on trial for False Asset declaration to hatch and push through their plans.
A ranking lawmaker close to the embattled President of the Senate who spoke to our correspondent in confidence said: “We know all those behind this plot to undermine the person and office of the President of the Senate in an attempt to advance their own selfish interest of installing their own candidate without following due process.
“We also know that there’s a script being acted out here from certain quarters within and outside the Assembly, but I want to assure you that the Senate President is unshaken and ready to take on any challenge that is placed on his way to achieving justice; be it at CCT or anywhere in this land."
“How can somebody who’s next in line for a post be shoved aside while the person under him would be made to become his boss when he has not committed any punishable offence just because some people believe he was wrongly promoted ahead of the other person or that he has just a few days left in active service? How does that disqualify the man? So, the Senate President is saying that even if it is for one day, they should allow him to act before his retirement, something that even the military will consider."
“If anyone is to be punished for any offence, it should be the commission chairman and his commissioners who promoted Efeturi ahead of Omolori in 2014 knowing that Omolori was the right man to have been promoted to the post of DCNA. “Let Dr. Fika tell Nigerians the truth behind this matter and stop playing to the gallery,” the apparently angry source stated.
Another angry lawmaker in the House of Representatives when contacted by our reporter stated that “Speaker Yakubu Dogara and some powerful Northerners outside the National Assembly are the ones bent on subverting the course of justice by denying a man what is rightly his, just like they did to James Faleke in Kogi.
“There is this geo-political conspiracy going on to entrench a Northern agenda and the Speaker is part of it – we know. We all saw the behaviour of his aides the day the appointment letter announcing Omolori came. Some of them quickly scanned it and posted on social media. I was told, Turaki Hassan, his Media Adviser, was even the one who circulated the said letter to you press men, shouldn’t that speak volume as to the interest of his principal in the whole matter?” the source who spoke anonymously queried.
He questioned why the position of Clerk of the Assembly has continued to be dominated by people from the North since 1999 when they are not the only ones in the Civil Service.
The said cold war between Saraki and Dogara is said to have also manifested in the handling of the budget impasse between the National Assembly and the Presidency with the former said to be very angry at his Reps counterpart for his refusal to corporate in an alleged move to override the President’s veto on the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
An insider source anonymously disclosed to Independent that the Senate President had sought the concurrence of Speaker Dogara in a bid to override the President’s veto as the constitutionally stipulated period drew near expiration. But Speaker Dogara was said to have tactically taken side with the executive when he was quoted as saying in an event that “the National Assembly wouldn’t be overriding the President’s veto”, as he moved subsequently to interface with the President on behalf of the House with a view to resolving all grey areas identified by President Buhari.
The move was said to have forced Senator Saraki who felt betrayed to back-pedal on his alleged plans to garner support from leadership of both Houses in a bid to actualise the veto override, thereby compelling him to go along with the interface which eventually led to the resolution of all differences relating to the budget.