Just when many thought peace is gradually returning to the National Assembly after a failed attempt by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to install its choice candidates as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives along with their deputies in the June 9 elections, a fresh round of crisis may be brewing, involving the federal legislators and the party’s leadership.
This time, the war of wits is over how other principal officers of both chambers would emerge.
A dependable source told Daily Independent in confidence on Thursday night that the National Leader of the ruling party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, who is said to have the backing of other members of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), are now sharply divided over the method to be adopted for selecting the Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip and the Deputy, which are also replicated in the House of Representatives.
The source told this newspaper that while Tinubu prefers that the party nominates these officers of the National Assembly directly, the APC NWC, led by Odigie-Oyegun, on the other hand, prefers that the selection be left to the zonal caucuses. He argues that such officials should then be presented to the party for onward nomination to the leadership of the two chambers.
The standing rules of the National Assembly gives the right to the party with majority to bring persons nominated by zonal caucuses, to occupy the seats reserved for them.
However, the position of Tinubu on the issue, it was gathered, is causing discomfort within the ranks of the party which fears a repeat of the humiliation it got during the struggle for the offices of Senate President and Speaker.
Another source close to the party told Daily Independent last night that the NWC members as well as majority of the lawmakers are reading meanings into the path chosen by Tinubu, who is suspected of making plans to impose his loyalists on the APC again.
To show his seriousness on the issue, Tinubu, it was learnt, has already forwarded a formal letter to the NWC, informing members of the need to take over the entire process of picking the principal officers.
The NWC members are also said to have expressed their reservations over the suggestion by Tinubu with the APC Senators in particular, preparing for another round of war with the party, should there be an attempt to deny the caucuses, the right to nominate principal officers.
The principal officers are expected to emerge when the National Assembly resumes next week.
As at 8:00pm last night, the Senators were still locked in a meeting at an undisclosed Abuja-based hotel, where a decision was expected on ways to handle the matter such that it would not cause any further disaffection and embarrassment to the party.
A senator who craved anonymity also told Daily Independent last night that some of his colleagues have already told the party leaders the right thing to avert another crisis in the parliament.
“Some of us were just called by some members of the NWC, intimating us of details of a letter forwarded to the body that it should just fill the remaining four leadership positions in the Senate.
“In fact, the letter from the South West leader is that the party must take charge and name its preferred candidates for the four offices…”
“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 caucus would now write the party on the preferred candidates. There are so many factor to be considered in choosing Senators that would be in leadership…it’s not the duty of the party in this case,” said the ranking lawmaker, who further confirmed the budding crisis.
As if reacting to the unfolding drama in the National Assembly and the way events have played out so far since the May 29 hand over to President Muhammadu Buhari, elder statesman and chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, on Thursday said that leaders of the APC have so far demonstrated their unpreparedness for the task of governing the country.
Adebanjo, who spoke in a no-holds-barred interview with Daily Independent in Lagos, lamented that the APC was already enmeshed in crisis, barely one month after becoming the ruling party. This, according to him, was slowing down the pace of governance in the country.
Describing the APC as a “conglomeration of incompatibles,” Adebanjo said the only thing that united the leaders was the removal of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I have said that I will not criticize APC now. I will give them ample time to settle down, maybe the first 100 days. But I thought that a party that fought and won election, by now should have announced the cabinet. Since they won the election, they know they are in government. I expect them to have been putting things together and the moment they are sworn in, they hit the ground running and everything should be in place.
“All that is happening within the APC today, I am not surprised because the APC only agreed on one thing. And that is ‘Jonathan must go.’ How to remove Jonathan is the only thing that brought all the leaders of APC together and what has happened at the National Assembly clearly shows that they don’t agree among themselves. Every other person has his own vested interested which they are now pursuing. Now that Jonathan has gone, the various interests are coming to play, which is not in the interest of the country.
“What they will do later after Jonathan’s removal and how they will do it, they couldn’t agree on that because they are a conglomeration of conservatives, progressives, conformists and non-conformists. That is why I labelled them a conglomeration of incompatibles.”
Meanwhile, the PDP has accused the ruling APC of deceiving Nigerians, advising the party to face the challenges of providing the needed governance to Nigerians.
The party said in a statement, that the APC’s double-speak on the issue of age and capacity limitations of President Muhammadu Buhari was a pointer to the fact that it was not fully ready for governance.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in the statement also accused the APC of celebrating ephemeral achievements.
The PDP charged the APC and the Presidency “to stop making mockery of governance with premature celebration of imaginary achievements except if the intention is to set up President Muhammadu Buhari for national and international ridicule.”
The party expressed embarrassment that the APC and aides of President Buhari “decided to invade the minds of Nigerians with propaganda and lies instead of assisting the President who was inaugurated three weeks ago to settle down, form a government and deliver his campaign promises to Nigerians.
“How can a serious government start shouting achievements and making bogus claims on the fight against terrorism when the effort is apparently losing steam as insurgents who had already been pushed to the verge of surrender in the Sambisa forest by the Goodluck Jonathan administration are now surging back into the country under the APC-led government?
“How can a serious government shout achievement based on pledges by foreign interests, a dangerous slide towards neo-colonialism, instead of settling down to galvanize bequeathed resources and potential that have already placed our great country as one of the fastest emerging economic and political powers in the world?