The current crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, worsened on Saturday when senators loyal to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, vowed to resist alleged moves by the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and other party chieftains to impose Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume as the Senate leader and deputy, respectively.
Senators Ahmed Sani-Yerima and Danjuma Goje, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, specifically declared that the plans by the leadership of the APC to fill the remaining four principal-officer positions with ranking members of the Senate Unity Forum was totally unacceptable.
The Senators Unity Forum consists of loyalists of Lawan, who lost the Senate Presidency bid to Saraki.
The remaining leadership positions yet to be filled in the senate include, Senate Leader; Deputy Senate Leader; Senate Chief Whip; and Deputy Chief Whip.
Our correspondent learnt that the APC leadership had allegedly been perfecting an arrangement which would see Lawan emerging as the Senate leader and Senator George Akume as his deputy.
The pro-Lawan group, which has the backing of Tinubu, was also said to have picked Professor Olusola Adeyeye (Osun) as the Senate Chief Whip, while Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina State would be his deputy.
But Senator Sani-Yerima, a former Senate Deputy Minority Leader, and Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, insisted that the pro-Saraki Like Minds senators would resist imposition of principal officers on the chamber.
Sani-Yerima maintained that the election of the four principal officers was the exclusive right of the zonal caucuses in the Senate.
He said the move by the APC leadership was illegal, adding that “there can never be imposition of candidates on the chamber by the party leadership”
He said, “As far as I’m concerned, the party cannot impose leadership on us. It is unconstitutional and against the rules of the Senate.
“The Senate Majority Leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Senate Chief Whip; Deputy Chief Whip were elected by their zonal caucuses in the Seventh Senate and the case of the Eighth Senate cannot be different.
“The best thing the party can do, given the circumstances, is to give us directives. Any attempt to impose will be resisted and this will further divide the party.”
He also, insisted that the party must follow due process, stressing that the Senate Presidency of Senator Bukola Saraki was committed to protecting the interests of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “We should follow due process. Allowing the party to impose a leadership on the Senate President is to make him to fail because he cannot be forced to work with his rivals.
“We are committed to giving President Buhari protection in the Senate. What we are doing is definitely not against the President.”
On his part, Goje warned the party against imposition of candidates, adding that such a move would likely further polarise the party.
He said, “By trying to impose another set of leaders on the National Assembly is to cause further crisis in the party. It will complicate matters and generate further crisis in the National Assembly.”
Spokesperson for the pro-Lawan senators, Kabir Marafa, described the argument of the pro-Saraki senators as incorrect and 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, “It is not possible for the executive of the party at the zonal levels to determine who will be made the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip, and the Deputy Chief Whip. It has never happened and it won’t happen this time around.
“The party executive must determine all the occupants of the four principal offices. The party will write the Senate President. That is the tradition. It cannot be done at the zonal level. We must follow due process.”