The National leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday promised that it would not witch-hunt any member in the Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara groups that flouted its decision at Tuesday’s National Assembly leadership elections, following due process.
Saraki and Dogara with the support of some rebellious fellow partymen, connived with legislators from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the APC’s choices of Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila.
The APC leadership held closed-door meetings with the ‘rebel’ legislators to review the activities of Tuesday.
Speaking at the end of the meeting with the Senators, the party, while promising fairness, said the recalcitrant lawmakers must explain why they botched its plan to install both Lawan, and Gbajabiamila.
Lai Mohammed, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, at the end of a meeting with the group of Senators loyal to Lawan, said the party is determined to look into the issue, but would strictly follow laid down rules.
“The party has not changed its position on the matter. Sanctions must follow due process. You would tell someone his offence, not the issue of disciplinary panel, but there will be due process,” he said.
For failing to come down heavily on the ‘recalcitrant legislators, the party may have disappointed the Lawan group, which had on Wednesday announced plans to challenge Saraki’s election in court.
Lawan and his group said it would particularly challenge the methodology adopted in taking over the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday.
Events of Thursday however suggest that the aggrieved group could not win the confidence of the party leaders on the court matter, as they all left the party’s secretariat wearing long faces and refusing to speak to the media, despite pressures mounted on them to speak on the outcome of the meeting.
Explaining the APC’s decision, Mohammed said “I think the party made its expression clear on the matter, that it is unhappy with the outcome of the election and I think we won’t say anything beyond that. What the senators will do is within the capability and rights of the senators.”
Asked specifically if the party would support the bid by Lawan and his group to seek redress in court, he said “I’m not aware they have gone to court.
The meeting was cut short to allow members of the National Working Committee (NWC) attend an urgent meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
At the Senators’ meeting were Kabiru Gaya, Ajayi Boroffice, Barau Jibrin, Barnabas Gemade, Ahmed Lawan and George Akume.
At about 3:50pm, Gbajabiamila led a team of APC Reps members to the party secretariat to also meet with the party leaders.
It was also a closed-door meeting.
At the end of the parley, Gbajabiamila told newsmen that he and his running mate have accepted the outcome of the election and are set to work with the leadership of Dogara.
According to him, there is nothing to challenge in the manner through which the new Speaker emerged, because a proper election was conducted, in which he participated and lost fairly to Dogara.
He noted that there was no rigging in the elections and therefore, he is ready to work with Dogara to move the party forward.
On plans by the party to sanction the Dogara and Saraki groups for going against the instructions to vote for its chosen candidates, Gbajabiamila said he lacks power to comment on such, since he is not a member of the NWC that took the decision.
He, however, said his team would ensure that the leadership of the House does not deviate from the ideals and programmes it has in stock for Nigerians.
Meanwhile, following the perceived division created by the NASS leadership elections, Reps members of different state caucuses met with and congratulated Dogara, urging him to work towards a united House.
The caucuses, mainly from the North, paid courtesy calls on the Speaker in his office.
Speaking on behalf of the joint caucuses of both Kano and Jigawa, whose members overwhelming supported Gbajabiamila, for example, Alhassan Garba Ado Doguwa, told the Speaker that the delegation came to felicitate with him, adding that it voted according to party directive for which they have no regrets whatsoever.
While the Adamawa caucus was led by Namdas Abdulrazak, a returning lawmaker, that of Katsina was led by Nasiru Sani Zango-Daura, also another returning lawmaker; just as the Gombe caucus was led by Binta Bello.
Speaking on behalf of the Imo caucus, Jerry Alagboso told the Speaker that the caucus was in his office to reiterate support for his leadership just as it did during the election.
He said: “we have come to greet you formally. We are also here to reiterate our support. As you are aware, Imo is intact, and as far as the election was concerned, we gave you a 100 per cent support.”
Addressing the caucuses separately, Dogara expressed gratitude to them for coming to identify with him, an indication that members are of one geographical location called Nigeria. He agreed that the House needs stability to function effectively and assist President Muhammadu Buhari in his task of providing good governance.
Referring to his visitors as “my brothers,” Dogara said “politics is over, now we have to face the issue of governance. In politics, people have different views and positions, either based on conviction or personal interest.
“Like I said in my inaugural address, we as leaders have run out of excuses and the Nigerian people are also tired of excuses.
“We must come together to bring about stability and unity in the House, so as to make the achievement of the President’s policies a reality by facilitating speeding enactment of legislations that would help him govern well.
“Those of us from the North must do more to ensure that we provide the needed leadership by making sure that our party succeeds, because if we bicker and let the President fail, then it is we who have failed.
“We must also commend the President for his decision not to interfere in the process leading to our emergence by refusing to impose anybody on us. It was his stand on this matter that gave us the encouragement to offer ourselves for this leadership”, Dogara added.
Continuing, he assured; “I bear no ill feeling toward anybody who did not vote for me, because this is the House for all and people must have their preference and I see all us as one”.
“We will not run a divided House on the basis of opposition to my bid during the election. This House must be stable for us to succeed.
“Although, we faced a seemingly insurmountable hurdle which took the grace of God to come about like a miracle. So it was Nigerians who made this possible… members from all part of the country, and so we can’t say it was only the people of Bauchi or the Northeast who supported me,” he stressed.