* Moves against plot to remove him
By Clifford Ndujihe & Henry Umoru
ABUJA—Determined to retain his position as Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki has kick-started moves to reconcile the various tendencies in the Upper Chamber with a visit to former Benue State Governor, Senator George Akume, in Abuja, weekend.
Given the way he emerged as Senate President against the position of the top hierarchy of the ruling All progressives Congress, APC,, the party leaders have not hidden their angst against Saraki.
Indeed, sources said the ruling party is considering either either a Christian or Muslim Senator from North Central to replace Saraki especially against the backdrop of the alleged false assets declaration trial he is facing at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Senator Akume, from Benue (North-Central) is one of the APC lawmakers that the Anti-Saraki group in the Senate is considering to replace Saraki, sources said.
The others are Barnabas Gemade (Benue) and Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa State).
Sources close to Saraki, said that the Senate President had been trying to clear the cloudy relationship between him and Akume for a while now but Akume has been preoccupied with constituency issues back home in Benue State. The last attempt before the weekend’s successful outing was said to have been aborted by Akume’s impromptu trip abroad.
The weekend’s meeting, Vanguard gathered was held on Sunday, when most members of the family of the third time Senator had gone to church. This was to give the visit the much need confidentiality and privacy.
Details of their discussion were not readily available but sources said they centred on the need for the duo who were two-time governors of the respective states in the North-Central to join hands to build and steer a virile Senate.
The meeting came after strong indications that those working to replace Senate President Saraki have not relented as they have continued with series of meetings.
Some leaders of the APC reportedly met with some senators who have been against Saraki, last Friday.
According to the source, the APC leaders and these Senators who are members of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, met with some APC leaders in Abuja where they not only resolved that the North Central should retain the position of Senate President but also concluded that for them achieve their aim, there will be religious consideration.
According to a very reliable source at the meeting, with the emergence of Hon. Yakubu Dogara from the North East geo-political zone as Speaker, House of Representatives, the North-Central will still retain the Senate presidency.
Vanguard gathered that it became imperative for the group to change the earlier position that a Muslim should be selected and threw the position open to either a Christian or Muslim.
The meeting was a follow up one earlier held in Abuja during the week.
Senator George Akume considered
At Friday’s meeting, a source told Vanguard that the group and the APC were also considering either Senator George Akume from Benue; Barnabas Gemade also from Benue or Abdullahi Adamu from Nasarawa State to replace Senate President Saraki if he is indicted by the CCT and the Senate Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, APC, Osun Central for the position of Deputy Senate President.
According to them, they would follow strictly the Senate Standing Rules as Amended where the issue of ranking would be followed.
It was gathered that the fight against Saraki became stronger following report of the scheming of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senators to promote one of their own to take over from Saraki if the APC got him removed.
The source who is a ranking Senator and was at the Friday meeting said that there are “subterranean and nocturnal moves by the PDP Senators to upstage us by backing one of them to take over the office of the Senate President, if Saraki goes. We are not unaware of a series of meetings by PDP elements in the Senate since Saraki’s trial began, some of the meetings in the dead of the night.
“Those of us in the APC, as the majority party in the Senate cannot sit idly by and allow a minority party in the Senate to take over a position that rightly belongs to us as a party. I can assure you that it is going to be a titanic battle on the floor of the Senate if Saraki goes. What happened on June 9 cannot be allowed to repeat itself no matter how strong the PDP caucus feels it is.
“We have already launched out to position Akume, Gemade and Adamu as our possible choices just in case the need arises to replace Saraki at the instance of CCT ruling.”
When asked how they settled for either Akume, Gemade and Adamu, he stressed that three of them “are eminently qualified to occupy the seat of the Senate President.”
According to him, besides their qualifications for the post of Senate President, three of them are also ranking Senators and emerged from the zone APC is likely to zone the Senate Presidency if Saraki goes.