APC Faces Fresh Crisis Over Selection Of Senate Leader, Others
Just when it is yet to fully resolve the crisis that engulfed the party over the selection of the leadership of the National Assembly two weeks All Progressives Congress (APC), over the selection of principal officers for both chambers of the assembly.
The principal offices are the Senate Leader; the Deputy Senate Leader; the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip.
While the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, is believed to have recommended to the APC National Working Committee that the positions be allocated to the zones, some leaders of the party, especially those from the South-West, want them filled by the party’s hierarchy.
According to a senator, “some leaders, who are still angry with his (Saraki) emergence, turned down his suggestion. Some of the influential leaders from the South-West are insisting that the party should fill the offices. This is in spite of the fact that the chairman of our party (John Odigie-Oyegun) and other members of the NWC are in support of allocating the principal offices to zones.
Particularly, Tinubu is said to prefer that the party handpicks the persons to occupy the positions, the NWC led by John Oyegun wants the various zonal Senate caucuses to nominate their leaders to occupy the said offices.
By Senate tradition, the party in the majority normally sends the offices to the zones where the Senate caucuses would meet and choose who should hold the posts.
To further his cause, it was gathered that Tinubu has written to the Oyegun-led NWC asking that the party should nominate the Senate Leader and other principal officers of the Senate.
But Oyegun is not in support of this position, as it would be unfair to impose the Senate Leader and other principal officers of the upper chamber.
A source, who said the senators are opposed to this directive, as they see it as yet another move to impose leaders on the Senate.
The national chairman of APC, the source said, is wary of this directive because the party got its fingers burnt in the election of the Senate President, his deputy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy recently, noting that the fallout of that fiasco was yet to dissipate.
At press time, some APC senators were seen holding meetings in one of the major hotels in Abuja on how to handle this situation before the matter gets out of hand.
Speaking on the issue, a ranking senator said: “Steps have been taken by a clique in the party, headed by this national leader, to subvert the subsisting tradition in the Senate with regards to filling the four outstanding leadership positions in the chamber.
“Some of us were just called by some members of the NWC, intimating us of the details of a letter sent to the body that it should just fill the four leadership positions in the Senate.
“In fact, the letter from the South-west leader instructed that the party must take charge and name its preferred candidates for the four offices.”
But the senators are said to be fighting back. Checks within the APC Senate caucus indicated that some senators have already met with some NWC members familiar with the parliamentary tradition and have impressed it on them to “ignore the letter”.
“It’s not done. The tradition is that zonal caucuses which did not produce the Senate President and deputy would meet, nominate among themselves and then, if there is more than one nomination, there would be an election and whoever has the highest votes for the particular office would be the candidate.
“Thereafter, after the positions have been filled, the caucuses would now write the party on the chosen candidates. There are so many factors to be considered in choosing senators that would be in leadership positions. It’s not the duty of the party in this case,” said a senator from the North-west zone.
The senators were said to have insisted that the tradition remained that the zonal caucuses which did not produce the Senate President and his deputy should meet and nominate among themselves.
They added that it was when there were two or more nominations that, an election could hold and that whoever scored the highest votes would be the candidate.
Efforts to get the spokesperson for the pro – Saraki group, Dino Melaye, failed because his mobile phone was switched off.
Spokesperson for the Senate Unity Forum, a group of senators loyal to Lawan, Kabir Marafa, argued that the choice of other principal officers who are not elected on the floor of the Senate, remained the sole business of the party leadership.
He said, “How can the executive of the party at the zonal levels determine who will be made the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip?
“It is the party executive that would determine all these. So the party would write the Senate President. That is the tradition. It cannot be done at the zonal level, it is absurd. There should be due process in whatever things we do.”
But when contacted , the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lai Mohammed simply said, “No comment.”