By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Emman Ovuakporie, Henry Umoru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Joseph Erunke & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—The dust raised over the National Assembly leadership contests was, yesterday, settling as some antagonists of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara have commenced peace moves with some now eyeing juicy committee positions.
The peace moves nonetheless, the two major political parties were unceasing in their own acrimony.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, warned the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, not to intimidate or harass the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the National Assembly Service Commission for performing their statutory functions during the inauguration of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the threat of sanctions against Senator Saraki and Speaker Dogara pledged by the APC was as at, yesterday, yet to be communicated to the two men or their leading associates.
Sources told Vanguard, yesterday, that a number of APC senators who had expressed opposition to the emergence of Senator Saraki have now started making peace and coming over to pledge allegiance to Saraki.
“I cannot believe what these politicians can do for committee positions,” a source privy to the development said.
“See the way they are betraying Senator Ahmad Lawan because they want juicy committees,” he said in reference to the entreaties from some former supporters of Senator Lawan who have reportedly sought accommodation in the camp of Senator Saraki.
Also in the House of Representatives, several state caucuses including legislators from Kano and Jigawa, who were in the front of the battle to stop the emergence of Dogara as speaker, came to make peace yesterday.
Gbajabiamila accepts defeat
Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, the official candidate of the APC who lost to Dogara in the leadership contest also pledged his allegiance to the new speaker of the House of Representatives.
Speaking, yesterday, when he led about 20 supporters of his aspiration to the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja, Gbajabiamila said they have accepted defeat.
He also overruled any legal action against the Dogara.
He said: “We have just gone through an election in the House, so we came to meet with the party regarding the election and how the party is going to remain strong and united and move forward so that we can deliver the deliverables and programmes of the party through the House.
“Go to court for what? I don’t know about the Senate. I can only speak for the House. Nothing happened in the House. We had an election. It is different from the Senate. In the Senate, people were deprived of their fundamental rights to express themselves and vote.
“We will work with the leadership of the House and the Speaker, so long as the party’s programmes are properly articulated and pursued on the floor of the House. We will work with the leader of the House. He is an APC member. He is not the Speaker of the APC. He is the speaker of the whole House.”
Asked if he was in support of the party’s position to take disciplinary action against the erring members, the former minority leader said: “That is the prerogative of the party. All I know is that in every association, there must be discipline. Whatever the party decides to do, that is for the party. It is not for me.”
Similarly, Mohammed Monguno, who ran for the office of the deputy speaker from Gbajabiamila’s camp but lost to Yusuf, also told journalists they would allow peace to reign in the interest of the nation.
He, however, regretted that some members of the party ignored APC’s decision and expressed his support for sanctions against the erring members.
“Definitely, if a party member errs, there must be sanction so that it will serve as a deterrent for others not to do same in future”, he said.
State caucuses pledge allegiance to Dogara
A number of state caucuses in the House of Representatives including some that fought against the emergence of Dogara also came to pledge allegiance to the speaker yesterday.
The state caucuses mainly from the North urged the speaker to forget the rancour that shadowed the contest.
Speaking on behalf of the Kano and Jigawa delegations to the House of Representatives, whose members overwhelmingly supported Gbajabiamila in the leadership contest, Alhassan Garba Ado Doguwa told the speaker that the delegation was in his office to felicitate with him on his victory. He said that the position taken by the Kano caucus was upon the directive of the party for which they have no regrets whatsoever.
He, however, called on the Speaker to bury all hatchets and carry everybody along in his leadership of the House.
He said: “While we have no regret whatsoever, with regards to the position we took during the contest, we must also accept the outcome of the process as democracy in action”.
“However, we did what we did according to our party directives. And we wish to declare our total support for your regime and work with you and also advise you whenever we see that you are going wrong,” he said.
State caucuses from Adamawa, Katsina, Gombe and Imo also visited and paid allegiance to the speaker.
Dogara expresses gratitude
Dogara expressed gratitude for the support and pledged to carry every member of the House along in the discharge of his duty.
He said: “My brothers; I won’t call you colleagues because we belong to the same geographical entity which is our country”.
“Let me say this. 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.
“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 to govern well.
“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 said.
He added; “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 of us as one.”
The senators supportive of Senator Lawan meanwhile visited the national secretariat of the party where they had a closed door meeting with the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Reporters were not allowed into the meeting and about 20 senators came out of the meeting looking pensive. They refused to comment on the outcome of their meeting with the claim that they had been ordered not to speak to the press on the issue.
Led by Senator Banabas Gemade, and including Senators Lawan and George Akume, the senators met with the national chairman for about one hour.
Even the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who was present at the meeting also refused to speak on the meeting.
“I think the party made its position 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.”
Meanwhile, aides of the Clerk of the National Assembly, CNA, have denied receiving any communication from President Muhammadu Buhari to delay the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly.
Sources in the CNA claimed that there was neither official letter, nor SMS message from the Presidency directing the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, to delay the inauguration.
The source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to make any official statement on the matter said: “There was no official communication through memo from the Presidency, not even text messages or phone calls.
“Anybody that has any form of evidence like that, I challenge the person to make it public. Even if there was anything like that, it was not enough to stop the proclamation because it is a constitutional ritual that happens every four years.
“The proclamation letter from the President directed that the inauguration should take place by 10 am. Having done the proclamation, you cannot create a distance in time.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu was quoted as saying that a message was sent to the CNA to inform him of the President’s meeting with the APC National Assembly members and the need to delay the inauguration.
Yesterday, one of the supporters of Senator Lawan, Senator Kabiru Marafa from Zamfara state wondered why the CNA should proceed with the inauguration of the 8th Senate with only 57 Senators that were present as at the time the election of the Senate President was conducted.
“Why was he in a hurry when he knew that only 57 Senators were in the chamber for the legislative exercise, what would he have lost if he had delayed it in obedience to the presidential directive.