Members of the All Progressives Congress are embroiled in serious fight over the choice of leaders for the positions of Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the eighth National Assembly
| By Olu Ojewale | Jun 8, 2015 @ 12:40 GMT |
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, appears to be in turmoil over the choice of candidates for the Senate presidency and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 8th National Assembly. The move to reconcile all interested parties in the leadership contests failed on Saturday, June 6, as candidates not endorsed by the party’s leadership vowed to contest the elections on Tuesday.
On Saturday, June 6, the party held polls in Abuja where Ahmed Lawan, senator from Yobe North, emerged as consensus candidate for Senate president. George Akume was picked for deputy Senate president.
For the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, a member from Lagos, was nominated for speaker, while Tahir Monguno from Borno State, emerged as his deputy.
This did not please the camp of Bukola Saraki, a senator who is also interested in the post of Senate president, boycotted the meeting. Supporters of Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State, promised to present him as a Senate president candidate at the inaugural sitting of the Senate on Tuesday, June 9.
Saraki’s group had boycotted a mock primary conducted by the APC for senate presidency, but the party picked Lawan, who got 32 votes.
A similar scenario played out for the speakership of the House of Representatives where the supporters of Yakubu Dogara, who is also vying for speaker, protested. They also have vowed to present their candidate on the floor of the House for the position tomorrow.
Gbajabiamila, former minority leader, had at the party’s mock election on Saturday, June 6, emerged the APC consensus candidate for the post of speaker. He polled 154 votes as against Yakubu Dogara who got three votes. A total of 183 members registered for the mock election but the votes of four were declared as invalid.
But on Sunday, Abdulmumin Jibrin, spokesperson for the 8th Assembly Consolidation Group, which is supporting Dogara, warned that the APC was a on a path of self-destruction by sticking to the outcome of the primary.
Jibrin, a former chairman, House Committee on Finance and also a contestant but later stepped down for Dogara, insisted that there was no election. “The mock election is a blatant lie. It was very shameful and disgraceful and the party only made a mockery of itself.
“We walked out of the hall and we never participated in the election. Therefore, the votes allocated to us were a fraud and we will not accept them,” he told a news conference on Sunday.
Jibrin claimed that members of the group had received threats of disciplinary actions from the party since Saturday, June 6, but he restated the resolve of Dogara’s supporters to ignore the APC and nominate their man for Tuesday’s election.
The group said it had petitioned President Muahammdu Buhari to intervene in the matter and call the party to order.
In a desperate effort to unite the party ahead of tomorrow sitting to elect NASS leaders, the APC said it had started reaching out to its members who might be aggrieved following the primary. The party has asked them to put their interest below that of the party, especially to avoid the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from cashing in to get their candidates elected.
Mai Mala Buni, national secretary in a statement, appealed to members not to go against the party’s decision, saying “it will be a shame” if the party, in spite of its majority, cannot pick the parliamentary leaders of its choice.
The party’s statement said: “It is natural for some members to be disappointed by the outcome of the straw poll that was conducted to select the party’s official candidates for the post: Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate President and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for Speaker, House of Representatives.
“We must put the interest of our party above personal interests and avoid a situation whereby any other candidates, apart from those picked by the party, will emerge as Senate President and House Speaker on Tuesday.”
The party promised that all outstanding issues would be resolved before Tuesday’s election so that there would be no opposition against the party’s choices for the Senate president and Speaker, House of Representatives.
The APC explained that its role in ensuring a common front within the party ahead of Tuesday’s election “is that of an honest broker.”
Although the party has appealed to all aggrieved members to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign, in the overall interest of everyone, Saraki and Dogara were said to have intensified efforts to get the backing of the PDP lawmakers for their ambitions.
Nevertheless, how the whole episode is likely to play will depend on how the party is able to handle the issue before tomorrow.