APC Senators defy party; ...nominates Senate leaders amidst controversy

The Senate President Bukola Saraki has defied the directive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on choice of other principal officers, announcing names of three candidates for the Senate leadership positions different from the names submitted by the party.

At Thursday’s plenary session, the Senate President announced Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na Allah as Deputy Senate Majority Leader and Senator Francis Alimikhena as Deputy Chief Whip.

But while it looked like an inevitable conclusion, Senator Kabiru Marafa challenged the decision of the Senate President to read the letters from the APC caucuses and ignoring that sent to him by the party’s leadership.
“The constitution’s provision clearly puts the party ahead of any other caucus from anyone. Mr President, you cannot read any list from any caucus because there is no caucus that is bigger than the party,” he said.
Senator Danjuma Goje from Gombe State fired back at Senator Marafa, claiming that the Senate President had the right to read out the caucus’ list.

The APC had on Tuesday sent two letters to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, stating its position on the candidates for the seats of the outstanding principal officers.

The party zoned the seat of the Majority Leader to the north-east, Deputy Majority Leader to the north-central, Chief Whip to the south-west and Deputy Chief Whip to the north-west.

The party also named its candidates to fill the positions.

However, the APC zonal factions in the Senate supported by the Senate President and in defiance of the party, held elections on Wednesday to determine who would occupy the positions of the four outstanding principal officers.

The lawmakers adopted the zoning formula of the party with the exception of the seat of the Deputy Chief Whip which was zoned to the north-west but changed to the south.

The names of the winners of the election where sent to the Senate President and read at plenary.

However, a source told Channels Television that Senator Ahmed Yerima, who won in the caucus election for the seat of the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, later stepped down for Senator Na Allah.

Also, Senator Francis Alimikhena, who emerged as Deputy Chief Whip, was unopposed, as he was the only APC Senator from the south-south.

The leadership tussle in the Senate in the last three weeks has threatened to smash the harmony which prevailed in the previous 7th Assembly.

The harmony was anticipated to be a feature in the Eight Assembly, but right from the inauguration of the Eight Assembly, peace has not found a place in the red chamber.

The names of three out of the outstanding four principal officers in the Senate have been announced, in deviance of the party’s choice, a decision that would further deepen the rift among members of the ruling party in the Senate.

It is a decision that would further anger the leadership of the party, as it is the second time that the party’s choice will be disregarded. But the party’ decision will have to wait until the lawmakers return to the complex for plenary next month, as the Senate has adjourned legislative proceedings to July 21.

The newly inaugurated ad-hoc committees are, however, expected to begin work.

Credit: Channels