Amid insinuations that he has perfected plans to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, at the weekend, met with President Muhammadu Buhari in London.
President Buhari is in the United Kingdom for a 10- day working holiday, which started on August 3, 2018.
There had been rumour making the rounds that Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, has concluded arrangement to dump the PDP for the APC this week.
The Senate minority leader had on Thursday last week met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa where he was said to have concluded negotiations for his defection plan.
The APC UK had on Friday tweeted on its twitter handle thus: “Acting President, @ProfOsinbajo accompanied by Senator (Dr) Ita Enang, and leaders of the APC in Akwa Ibom to formally receive Senator (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio into APC at Ikot Ekpene Stadium on Thursday 9 August, 2018. All lovers of Democracy are cordially invited”.
Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged as to why Akpabio may be planning to defect to the APC.
The planned defection, according to information made available from the office of the senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly (Senate Matters), Senator Ita Enang, is scheduled to take place at the Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium on Wednesday, with Acting President Osinbajo in attendance.
Sources closed to Akwa Ibom State Government told LEADERSHIP that the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, and his predecessor have been contending with some irreconcilable differences as a result of to the former’s inability to accede to all the demands of the Senate minority leader.
One of the sources who did not want his named in print said Akpabio had given three or more conditions to the governor to meet if he was desirous of his support for second term.
Among the demands is that he (Akpabio) allegedly wanted his wife and former first lady of the state, Mrs Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, to be nominated deputy governor candidate for next year’s election.
This demand, the source noted, did not go down well with the governor who reasoned that since Akpabio would be returned to the Senate, it was better that the Abak-5 division of Ikot Ekpene senatorial district produces the deputy governor for political inclusiveness.
It was also disclosed that shortly after sacking the former Secretary to the State Government, Mr Etekamba Umoren, Akpabio allegedly nominated Mr Ibanga Akpabio, a lawyer and former deputy chairman of the state chapter of the PDP for the post of the SSG.
Heedlessly, Akpabio was said to have also demanded the sack of Governor Emmanuel’s key commissioners on allegation that they insulted him. The commissioners are Messrs, Akan Okon, commissioner for Special Duties; Ephraim Inyang-eyen, commissioner for Works and Udo Ekpeyong, former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Though Governor Emmanuel is yet react to news of his predecessor’s defection, a media aide to the governor said the constitution allows freedom of association and people are allowed to join political parties of their choice if they so wish.
Also, as at press time, none of Akpabio’s close associates, including his media aide, Anietie Ekong and his former Information Commissioner, Mr Aniekan Umana, could confirm the story, as they did not respond to series of telephone calls made to them by or correspondent.
We’ll Resist Change Of Senate Leadership – PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP yesterday warned that any attempt to forcefully take over the control of the National Assembly is a direct recipe for crisis and anarchy.
Noting that Nigerians will directly resist this, the party urged Nigerians and the international community to hold the APC and its federal government responsible should the nation’s democracy suffer any harm in the coming days.
The national publicity secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted in a statement that the caution by the PDP was coming against the backdrop of another plot by the APC and its agents to flood the National Assembly with armed plain clothed security operatives to compromise the security architecture to enable the forceful takeover of the leadership of the Senate by APC Senators.
Ologbondiyan said the party had alerted the nation that the overseas vacation by President Muhammadu Buhari was to enable his cabal overrun the National Assembly in a manner reminiscent of the siege at the Benue State House of Assembly so as to sack the current elected Senate leadership and install their stooges.
His words: “When this is done, the Buhari Presidency will in its characteristic response claim ‘Mr President is unaware’. The PDP however cautions, in the strongest possible terms, that Nigeria as a nation will never allow such direct assault to the highest symbol of our integrity as a democratic state.
“The laws of our nation regarding the sanctity and sovereignty of our legislature are clear and our citizens will never allow any person or group of persons, no matter the circumstances, undermine the constitutional integrity of the legislature as representatives of the people. Any attempt to tempt the will of the people in this direction is a clear recipe for very serious crisis.
“The laid down rules for reconvening the Senate whenever it is on recess, which must be followed when it becomes compelling to reopen the senate on a date order than the earlier adjourned date, are clear and direct. In such a circumstance, Order 12(2) of the Senate Standing Rule (2015) clearly vest such powers and functions on the Senate President, who shall give notice of such new date and time.
“Anything outside the provision of the law is a direct coup not only against the National Assembly but also on our entire democratic system. It is a clear recipe for anarchy of monumental proportion capable of disarticulating our nation. The PDP therefore charges all Nigerians to be at alert, stand up for democracy and condemn this conspiracy against our land”.
Kano Deputy Gov, Hafiz Abubakar, Resigns
Meanwhile, Kano State deputy governor, Hafiz Abubakar, has resigned his position as the number two citizen of the state, citing persecution and humiliation as reasons that prompted his decision to quit.
The deputy governor, in a letter written to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said his decsion to quit office is due to the disagreement between him and the governor over issues.
Hafiz said, “After over two years of enduring immeasurable and unjustifiable humiliation, without reasons other than my principled position on issues of government and the desire to keep the government on track, I regret to write and notify you of my decision to resign my appointment as deputy governor of Kano State with effect from Saturday, 4th July 2018.
“Your Excellency, I would have desired to even remain up to the end of our tenure in order to fulfill the aspirations and expectations of the good people of Kano State as expressed in their mandate given to the joint ticket in 2015.
“But with the current and persistent irreconcilable differences on matters relating to government and government operations, personal opinions and the concept of and respect for democratic ideals and values, it would be unfair to my conscience, to the good people of Kano State and to you as the head of the government to remain in my position as the Deputy Governor of Kano State.
“Your Excellency would recall several instances I had to draw your attention on the need to understand and appreciate these differences in order to avoid drifting into the kind of unnecessary crisis we are facing today, but no avail.”
Abubakar further alleged that Ganduje refused to heed his appeals on the importance of harmonising their perceptions on how to govern the state, adding that this singular reason incited his decision to quit his position as the deputy governor.
“Instead of heeding to my concept to save the government from the present state of crisis your reaction was and still is surprisingly to persecute and mete all sort of injustice on me.
Hafiz said, “following all these humiliations, under the circumference given the deteriorating state of affairs and your continued disrespect for the office of Deputy Governor, as well as your expression of several injustice on my person, I regret to say that I have no option than to succumb to my inner calling with the hope that this decision is in accordance with the guidance and wishes of Allah (SWT) for the good people of Kano State to call it quit”, he stated.
Prior to his resignation, there had been persistent pressure from Governor Ganduje’s supporters requesting for Abubakar’s resignation.
APC NWC Lifts Shehu Sani’s Suspension
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the APC has lifted the suspension placed on Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central senatorial district of Kaduna State.
The party directed the chairman of the party in Tudun ward and others to implement the directive with a view to complimenting the peace efforts being made by the national leadership of the party to restore peace in the party in Kaduna State.
In a statement signed by its acting national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, APC said, “The National Secretariat has received the news of the suspension of Senator Shehu Sani by the Tudun Wada ward Chairman and wish to clarify that the purported suspension of Distinguished Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District is hereby lifted and is confirmed as a bonafide Member and leader of our party.
“The chairman Kaduna State Chapter has been directed to inform the relevant Ward and Local Government chapters appropriately, and also put the necessary mechanism towards complementing the efforts of the National leadership towards ensuring lasting peace and unity in the party”.
Senator Sani had shunned the idea of defecting to the PDP like other APC National Assembly members following the peace moves initiated by the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
No Intimidation, Threat Will Stop Me – Obasanjo
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday declared that no amount of intimidation and threat to his life will force him to abandon his clamour for better Nigeria.
Obasanjo stated that no right-thinking Nigerian would applaud the current situation in the country and maintained that should the citizens failed on their part to act together as they ought to, Nigeria may not be what it should be come the year 2019.
The former president made this comment while addressing a 30-man delegation of Bafarawa Presidential Campaign Organisation (BPCO) led by the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, who paid a visit to him at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) residence in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Noting that none of those who love Nigeria would want it to remain as it is today, Obasanjo declared that he was ready to make more personal sacrifices towards making Nigeria better.
The former president also said that he would throw his weight behind any presidential candidate who has track records of integrity, diligence, humility and not engrossed in nepotism.
He saluted the courage of Bafarawa for aspiring to rule the country, saying the former governor achieved a lot in Sokoto by listening to his advice and cooperating with him as president.
This, he added, made him to visit Sokoto State 14 times to unveil projects.
“There are three attributes I want to see in a leader which I saw in you – one, his diligence, humility and you don’t discriminate in terms of people who work with you, and most of the times you listen to advice. One important issue is that Nigeria in its entirety is paramount to you.
“All we achieved together was because we cooperated, because we worked together. And when we even disagreed, we genuinely did so; not for selfish reasons, not on basis of corruption or misconduct. Where we see things differently we explain to ourselves and if we cannot reconcile, each of us held to his point.
“The situation of Nigeria today is not the one any right thinking Nigerian should applaud. And my own strong belief is that Nigeria deserves better than we have now, and we can get better than what we have. So, yours is to see what you can do, that is why you are aspiring to make Nigeria better than what it is today.
“Nobody who loves Nigeria will not want it to be better than what it is today. I, definitely, have made personal sacrifices and I will make again.”
The former president further said he was not afraid of any kind of intimidation on basis of his stance.
“What would you do to intimidate somebody like me? Whatever you are trying to do to me, people have tried to do them to me in the past and it amounted to nothing, and it will amount to nothing because before I act, I pray to God to guide me and I think of Nigeria first, particularly majority of Nigerians who are underprivileged, whose situation we need to improve upon,” he stated.
Obasanjo added that he would support a candidate who is ready to put Nigeria above personal interest.
“How would I say that I will not support anyone who wants to improve the situation of Nigeria? How would I say that anybody who does not feel satisfied with the situation of Nigeria should not be encouraged? How would I say that anyone who believes strongly that Nigeria can be better than what it is and believes that it is a collective responsibility, I will not support?
“But there must be a leader that will lead the team and leadership is not easy. If we do not act together as we should act together, Nigeria will not be what it should be come year 2019. Aspiration? Yes, but the objective must be clear. If the opposition starts going in different directions and pulling in different ways, Nigeria’s situation will not change. A population of 200 million, for us to continue to complain that things are not right, we are doing this same thing like we have done before. And if we keep doing the same thing, the result will not be different. If we want a different result, we must do things differently. And I believe we can do things differently”.
Speaking earlier, former Governor Bafarawa said he decided to visit Obasanjo to seek his prayers, advice and support for his presidential aspiration.
Falana Faults Defections, Impeachments
Meanwhile, Lagos lawyer, Chief Femi Falana (SAN), has described recent defections of some Senators and the House of Representatives members from the APC to the PDP and other parties as illegal and unconstitutional.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, Falana equally condemned the action of eight out of 30 members of the Benue State House of Assembly who served the state governor, Samuel Ortom, impeachment notice recently.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria urged the APC Senators to back out from their threat to reconvene and impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki for cross-carpeting from the ruling party to PDP, saying the APC don’t command two-third majority required to remove Saraki.
Falana said Section 52 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) mandates that the Senate president and his deputy can only be removed by the votes of not less two third majority of the entire members of the Senate.
He said, from the look of things, the APC cannot aggregate such number of votes of the entire Senate to carry out their planned removal of Saraki at present.
Falana stated: “The planned removal of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki by the APC should be stopped as it cannot stand. The attention of APC legislators ought to be drawn to section 52 of the Constitution which provides that the President and Deputy Senate President can only be removed by the resolution supported by the votes of not less two thirds majority of the entirety of the members of the Senate.
“Since the APC legislators cannot muster the required two thirds majority of the votes of the entire members the plan to impeach Senator Saraki should be dropped forthwith”.
On the issue of defection, Falana opined that although cross carpeting by legislators was common in the first republic, it has been prohibited by the 1999 Constitution.
He said Section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution now makes it imperative for a division to occur in a party before the lawmaker can cross-carpet.
He further stated that the Supreme Court had also held that the division in a political party envisaged by the Constitution cannot be a figment of the imagination of prospective defectors.
He noted: “The division must make it practically impossible for the party to function. In the instant case, the APC was not split to the extent that two parallel congresses were held leading to the emergence of two parallel sets of officers at the national, state and ward levels.
“A recent example of the factionalisation or division of a political party was recently witnessed when the PDP broke into two factions led by former governors Sheriff and Makarfi until the faction led by the latter was recognized by the Supreme Court.
“No doubt, the members of the R-APC were dissatisfied with the running of the affairs of the APC but they did not hold any parallel convention which would have produced elected officials of the aggrieved members. To that extent the defection of the R-APC legislators from the APC to the PDP and ADC can be impugned under section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution’’, Falana said.
“Having decamped from the APC which sponsored their elections the R-APC defectors ought to resign from the legislative houses and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate. In order to curb the dangerous trend some aggrieved members of the constituencies of the defectors ought to contest the legal validity of the refusal to resign from the affected legislative houses”.
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