- NASS not in any hurry to reconvene
BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – Amidst the gale of defections rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC), its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has challenged Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to vacate his seat, having dumped the party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
This is even as competent sources within the PDP National Assembly caucus hinted that there is no hurry by the Senator Saraki-led NASS to recall the lawmakers from their current recess given recent developments and uncertainties in the nation’s political space.
Oshiomhole made the call on Wednesday when he and some APC Senators, led by Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, had a close door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
With the wind of defections topping the agenda, Presidency insiders hinted that discussions at the meeting centered on re-positioning the Party in the post-defection era for the 2019 general elections.
Typically relying on the popular slogan that ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’, Comrade Oshiomhole, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting, said the right thing for Senator Saraki to do is quitting the Senate Presidency honourably.
He insisted that it is a matter of morality and honour for Saraki to leave “the crown in the family it belongs to”, adding; “But whatever is the reason, we can defect from the party but we can’t defect from Nigeria. The only thing is that there are other consequential issues that every man or woman of honour who had taken such decisions would be expected to follow through.”
According to him, “I mean you should not collect a crown that belongs to a family and wear it on behalf of the family if for your personal reasons which he has enumerated that he has gone to another family.
“It is just a matter of honour to leave the crown in the house that the crown belongs to.”
On the palpable fears of losing its majority in the Senate, the former Edo State governor said; “As it stands even now, the APC is still the largest party in the Senate. We have 53 senators, that is much more than what the PDP has, or APGA has.”
Comrade Oshiomhole also stated that the decisions of those that defected from the party should not really come as a surprise to political events watchers because the signs were already obvious, noting that it is a passing phase and trying moment for the governing party.
The APC National Chairman said given events within the polity in the last couple of months, “Nobody in the APC will be surprised about the development. In fact, they have stayed a little bit longer than we thought. Last week, the Kwara State Governor said he was leaving but he didn’t say when. So, we are not surprised at all. But these are what I might call tempting moments because I had faced similar situations in my state, when people were leaving.
“But the beauty of democracy is that whether big or small, it is one man one vote on Election Day. There is no difference between a senator, a president, a journalist and any other person.
“In a sense, we have to accept that once a couple, for one reason or the other, find out that they are not compatible, the only honourable thing is to go” their separate ways
Expressing happiness that Senator Saraki admitted that he and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as well as some State governors tried hard to address the contentious issues leading to his exit, Comrade Oshiomhole said; “But he argued that those efforts came too late. But I couldn’t have started acting before I was born.”
The Party chairman, who admitted that lessons have been learnt from the development, said going forward, efforts would be geared towards strengthening the system to ensure the positives in moving in the right direction.
In his comments, Senate Leader Lawan urged his colleagues to urgently reconvene from their recess in order to consider and pass the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) budget which the President submitted to the National Assembly (NASS).
Lawan disclosed that the lawmakers again pledged their commitment and loyalty to the party and the President, adding that they intend to remain true and genuine representatives of their people.
Assuring that the lawmakers would always shun things that run against the people’s interest and that of the current administration, the Senate Leader said; “I am calling on my colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to come back and consider the requests of Mr. President for the virement and supplementary budget for INEC for the 2019 elections.”
However, sources close to the PDP National Assembly caucus said calls for the lawmakers to cut short their vacation may not be heeded in the immediate as the Saraki’s camp is still fine-tuning strategies to ensure that there will be no hiccups for the Senate President if the upper legislative chamber resumes plenary.
The sources noted that the current strong liaison between Senator Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara would frustrate the on-going overtures by the Presidency and some of its loyal lawmakers to have the NASS reconvene anytime soon.
“You know these are interesting political times in the country. All political actors and groups are taking measured steps to avoid banana peels and ensure they stay out of harm’s way ahead of the 2019 elections”, a competent source told Forefront at the National Assembly.