The sharing of principal offices in the Senate seems to be creating a fresh crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress.
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.
A senator made this known to one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday just as the APC NWC meeting on Thursday failed to agree on the modalities for brokering peace among aggrieved members of the party.
The senator warned that if the issue was not quickly resolved, the Senate and the APC might “face another round of crisis bigger than that that resulted from Saraki’s emergence as Senate president.”
He added, “The Senate President, had after wide consultations, suggested how the officers to occupy these posts could be appointed. He suggested the allocation of the four principal offices to some of the geopolitical zones.
“But 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.
“The South-West leaders are even saying that allowing the party leadership to fill the offices, remained the only way to allow peace to reign in the Senate.”
A Senator from the North-Central , who is loyal to Saraki, confirmed the development on condition of anonymity .
He said that it was true that some APC leaders were insisting that the party should nominate the senators who would occupy the four principal offices .
He said, “By the Senate tradition, the party in majority normally sends the offices to the zones where the Senate caucuses would meet and choose among themselves in the zone, who occupies the offices.
“Some other leaders of the party are claiming that asking the party to produce the principal officers was a smart way to impose the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip on the Senate.”
The senator claimed that a “very influential “ leader of the party from the South-West had allegedly written Odigie- Oyegun that the leaders would fill the positions. “
He said, “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 was further learnt that some senators had already met with some NWC members asking them to ignore the letter.
They 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.”
NWC meeting deadlocked
Meanwhile, the leaders of the party will meet again on Friday following their failure to reach an agreement on how to end the crisis that arose due to the National Assembly leadership elections .
The meeting, which was held behind closed doors at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja started at about 5.20pm. It lasted for a little over an hour.
Details of the meeting were not made public as of 8pm on Thursday when this story was filed. When approached for comments , Odigie-Oyegun, said, “We will meet again tomorrow to continue.”
It was however learnt that the party leaders had been unable to get supporters of the Senate President and the APC’s preferred candidate for the Senate Presidency , Ahmed Lawan, to meet face-to-face.
One of our correspondents, who visited the APC secretariat observed that the posters and banners of a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, had disappeared from the secretariat.
His banners were hitherto pasted side by side those of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Most of the banners were put up by individuals and groups supporting the APC.
It is not clear what led to the disappearance of the posters and banners.