There are strong indications that All Progressives Congress (APC) senators are determined to dethrone Dr Bukola Saraki as Senate president following his defection to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday. Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South) gave the hint yesterday in Abuja while speaking to reporters in reaction to Saraki’s defection to the PDP earlier this week. He insisted that APC senators remained the majority in the Senate and that there is no way they will allow a ‘renegade’ to preside over them. According to him, Saraki must resign his position as Senate president for peace to reign in the upper legislative chamber in the overall interest of the nation and democracy. Senator Ibrahim, who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, further declared that the possibility of the Senate reconvening before the adjourned date cannot ruled out because, according to him, the rules of the upper chamber stipulates that 30 members can resolve to reconvene the Senate at any time.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that after presiding over the proceedings on Tuesday during which the defections occurred, Saraki announced that the Senate was immediately proceeding on recess to reconvene on September 26, this year.
There are, however, indications that senators in the ruling party may be considering forcing a reconvening of the Senate under the guise of the rule referred to by Senator Ibrahim in order to have a go at removing Saraki from office.
The Katsina South senator had earlier asked Saraki to leave the APC following the role he played in the defections of 14 senators and 37 House of Representatives members.
Senator Ibrahim had insisted that both Saraki and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, resign from the APC in their own interest or face expulsion from the party.
Consequently, the APC leadership issued a query to Saraki preparatory to expelling him from the party just before he defected on Tuesday
But speaking yesterday, Senator Ibrahim, who doubles as the chairman, Board of National Committee for Buhari Support Groups, stated that Saraki had taken a commendable step by leaving the APC, however, he should go the whole hog by resigning his position as Senate president, adding that if he fails to do so, the Senate will never know peace.
The senator argued that the call on Saraki to resign his position is in line with the convention that the party with the majority should also produce the leadership.
The lawmaker vowed that APC senators would not allow “a renegade” as their leader in the Senate. Ibrahim said, “Well, I think it is commendable that he has left the party. He has chosen the path of survival because it is the issue of political survival, not anything for Nigeria. “But the next is for him to resign as Senate president, because by all conventions all over the world the majority party produces the leadership; Senate president, the majority leader and others. “Again, let him be gentleman enough and resign as Senate president. If he doesn’t (resign) we will never have peace in that Senate because it is absolutely clear that APC has majority to produce the leadership. “I hear the PDP claiming majority, but it is crystal clear that APC has majority. We will have more members. We will have elections (to fill vacant seats due to death of members) . We will have the two members. We also have some alliance with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). It is clear that APC has majority.
“APC with majority should produce the leadership in the Senate. 49 cannot produce the leadership. Saraki should go the whole hog and resign as Senate president.” On the allegation that some senators attempted to break into the Senate chamber on Wednesday to reconvene plenary, he said: “How do you break into the chamber? If we like, we can reconvene legally because it is legal for us to reconvene. We don’t need to break into the chamber when we have the number. I will never subscribe to that. “We can reconvene, the rules are there – that if we are up to 30 we can reconvene. Why should we break into the chamber when we can reconvene legally and do what we want to do.
“It is legal. I don’t see why anybody should contemplate that we can break into the chamber. I don’t know about it, and even if I know about it I will say it is unwise.
“Like I said, the rules are there that if we are 30 we can reconvene and do what we want to do. If the leadership does not ask for peace, it will not get peace. Peace is a function of leadership.”
He asserted that if the Senate president does not lead the members in the right direction, the senator had the right to remove him.
“Nobody was elected as Senate president; we all came here as senators, so we have equal footing. We gave you leadership. If you fail to give us the right leadership and if majority of us don’t want you any more, you have to leave.
“Saraki was elected by us. At any time a majority of us say he should go, he has to go,” he said.
On the effect of the gale of defections hitting the APC, he said, “There are some losses that will give you sleepless nights, there are others that will not give you sleepless nights. We have made our calculations; I am confident that that we will not lose.”
He further accused the Senate president of being a cog in the wheel of progress of the present administration.
“For the past two years, Saraki has undermined the government. He has allowed frivolous motions to attack the president and the government. His continued stay as Senate president does not augur well for the APC government,” he said, adding that although Saraki belonged to the same party with President Muhammadu Buhari, “he has never seen anything good in the president.”
When asked if only a change of leadership will bring peace to the Senate, he said: “How can we, 53 of us, allow a renegade to control us? No, we cannot allow that.”
Saraki, Tambuwal, Others Attend First PDP NEC
Meanwhile, the national secretariat of the PDP regained its boisterous self yesterday as Senate President Bukola Saraki; Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal; his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom and former Kano State governor, Senator Musa Kwankwaso, formally returned to the party.
Saraki and other returnees were received amid wild cheers as they were immediately admitted into the 81st National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the second highest-ranking body of the party.
Former national chairman of PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade and Senator Dino Melaye who also defected to PDP were at the meeting.
Our sister publication, LEADERSHIP Sunday, had exclusively reported that the NEC would this week formally receive the returnees into the party.
Speaking at the meeting, Saraki who said he was happy to be back home where he belongs promised to offer himself to defend Nigeria’s democracy.
He said, “Once again, on behalf of all of us that just joined this party, those who we have met, we are so happy to be back here. And I assure you on behalf of all us that we will work tirelessly and courageously to do what is right to put this country in the right place where it should be and we will not stop.
“I offer myself to ensure I continue to play my part, to continue to ensure that we defend our democratic principles in this country, we provide security and good leadership and good governance for everybody. But that is only possible if we are all united because not anyone man or two or three can do it alone.
“The message that I will like to leave here with is a message of let us all work together so that these sacrifices will really be worth it in the interest of our people.”
Attributing his return to divine intervention, he described his return alongside his colleagues as a long, tough and tortuous journey.
He said their defection to PDP was a sacrifice that they all made, stressing that they took the action for Nigerians and that the exercise will not be complete until they make a better country for the people.
On his part, Tambuwal warned that Nigeria is not a Banana Republic, stressing that they are ready to march out to match any act that would make the country drift any further.
He recalled that only three days ago he cautioned that Nigerians will not accept prison-yard democracy, and that a situation whereby people will be framed up on the simple account of disagreement on political leanings is simply unacceptable.
He said, “It is not about anybody, it is not about any interest; this is about the country. We must retrieve it, we must reposition this country and restructure for the benefit of Nigerians. When they talk about cross carpeting, I began to wonder. When we cross-carpeted the other time, did they complain?
“When I hear that some people were trying to break into the chambers of the Senate, to steal the Mace and install a pseudo Senate President, I wondered whether they actually know the rules of our democratic engagement, it is not a Gestapo. We are in a democracy and the constitution of this country is very clear that members of the Senate and House of Representatives can chose from among themselves their own president of the Senate and Speaker.
“It is a conference of members of the two chambers and if the members have confidence of the Senate President, they are free to retain him and so be it with Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Nobody should be afraid and we must respect due process and rule of law if we are in a democracy”.
On his part, the Benue State governor, Ortom, lamented that he lost all he went into the APC with, stressing that he has become poorer for it.
The governor stated that he was happy to be home, even though he had left for obvious reasons.
“In my journey, I had too many travails and pains. All that I had when going to the APC was taken away from me. In fact, I became poorer. I am happy I came to meet the party intact. I am happy that our leaders, Senator Iyiorcha Ayu, Senator David Mark, Gabriel Suswam are with me. We can go to sleep as we go to 2019 with all these leaders with me”, he said.
In his opening remarks, national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, told the Senate president and others who defected to the party recently that history will be kind to them for identifying with the people.
He assured the team of defectors to the party led by that the bold steps they took would not be in vain.
“The bold steps you took to return to the party where you truly belong, is a sacrifice not for yourself but for Nigeria and history will be fair to you. Today is the beginning of the great journey to freedom, the great journey to free our people and rescue this country from the damage done to it by the APC in the last three years”, he noted.
Secondus expressed regret that agencies of government established to protect the people have been deployed to assault institutions of democracy by the federal government, citing incidences involving security agencies in Ekiti, Benue State and the homes of the Senate president and his deputy as instances.
The chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, urged PDP members to receive the defectors with sincere hearts.
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