Senators of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), who met with President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday night said they went to assure him of their loyalty.
They said they also informed him that the APC still has clear majority in both chambers of the National Assembly.
The meeting which began at about 9:30 p.m. held inside the conference room in the office of the wife of the president at the State House Villa, Abuja.
It had in attendance 39 senators, the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and top government officials.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan said “we have come to pay a courtesy call on Mr President, our leader, and we informed him of what happened yesterday at the Senate and indeed the National Assembly.”
Mr Lawan also said they told Mr Buhari that some of their colleagues left the ruling party to join various political parties such as PDP, ADC and APGA.
“We informed Mr President of how we stand in the Senate. As at today, the Senate APC Caucus is 53 in number followed by the other minority parties.
“The PDP is the largest minority party with 48 senators and then the ADC with 2 senators, APGA has two senators and we have two vacant seats which were occupied by APC senators who are late now,” he said.
Mr Lawan said they assured Mr Buhari that the APC will reclaim the two vacant seats during the bye-election fixed for August 11. PREMIUM TIMES reported how INEC fixed senatorial bye-elections in Katsina and Bauchi following the deaths of the previous lawmakers there.
“By the special grace of God, APC will retain those seats and that will take our majority to 55,” Mr Lawan said.
Fourteen senators left the APC in a mass defection Tuesday. Mr Lawan, however, said
“Less than 24 hours into the defection, we had some discussions with some of our colleagues who defected and they have shown their willingness and interest and readiness to retrace their steps.”
One of the defecting senators, Lanre Tejuoso from Ogun State, was among those who met the president Wednesday night.
Mr Lawan said the remaining senators are working with the leadership of APC to ensure that those who defected return to the party.
He said apart from APC senators, others from the opposition PDP have also indicated their interest to move to the ruling party.
“I want to say that what has happened in the National Assembly yesterday, particularly in the Senate was supposed to be a disagreement in the family, but I think there was a misjudgment.
“When you disagree, you don’t kill or break the entire house or burn it down, you normally sit down and look for solution and way out.
“Going forward, therefore, we believe that this family will get back all its members and for those that have remained in the Senate APC caucus, will definitely receive the kind of attention and support from our party and administration,” he said.
Mr Lawan also said they told Mr Buhari of their resolve to work with him to fulfil the campaign promises made by the APC.
He said the party campaigned on three core issues including fighting insecurity, revitalising the economy, especially creation of jobs, and fighting corruption.
He said the APC government is doing well on those promises.
“This administration will end as a very successful one. So far we have done so much with so little in terms of giving development and infrastructure across the country.
“2019 will be the year that this administration will be given a renewal by Nigerians and the National Assembly will witness a higher majority of APC in both Houses by the grace of God and of course, across the states, we will have more states,” he said.
On Mr Buhari’s reaction, Mr Lawan simply said “What do you expect when children come to their father and their leader? He was happy to receive us, extremely delighted and of course he has shown his willingness to continue to support the legislature in the implementation of our programmes as a government, as a party.”
He said Mr Buhari also assured them of his commitment to work with the National Assembly.
“He believes in the separation of powers, like we all do. But we must have a relationship that will be characterised by interdependence rather than emphasis on independence; by partnership, cooperation, consultation and coordination. And we will give him everything that he requires to ensure that he succeeds,” he said.
Also, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, who is one of the aggrieved senators yet to defect, said he attended the meeting in his capacity as a member of the APC caucus of the Senate.
“My presence here does not mean that my issues have been solved 100 per cent. But I am of the belief that we have a leader in the party who is doing everything possible to see that the problems that we have are solved.”
He said he revolted because he found it necessary to do so.
“Revolt at times is most necessary. In fact, APC is a reflection of a revolt, it revolted against a system of iniquity, injustice, and today it is in power.
“So, I am here because I believe in the leadership of the party, I believe also in the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and I am also of the believe that there is no issue that we cannot solve as human beings, as men of conscience and conviction,” he said.
Mr Sani said the discussion with the president was “reassuring and in every possible way; soothing and comforting that a process has started to heal the wounds and also address issues that led us to where we are today.”
“We must recognise the very fact that the problems that the new leadership of the party is trying to solve today was something that could have been solved a year or two ago.
“I always tell the chairman of the party that he inherited both a civil war and cold war in the party and he is doing everything possible to solve them and I am of the belief that a forum like this is a big step forward.
“I don’t pretend to see the problem that led to my decision to think twice about the party have all been solved; but I believe this leadership can solve the problem and that is why I am here,” he said.
On his part, the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole said he was delighted for having “a very good day.”
He said the APC has 53 senators out of 107, and that in the next couple of weeks, two more senators will be added to the list after bye elections are held in Bauchi and Katsina state.
Speaking about the meeting with Mr Buhari, Mr Oshiomhole said “the good thing about this meeting is that the senators have come in huge numbers to prove what the Senate leader earlier said, that APC remains the party with the largest number of senators in the Senate.”
Speaking specifically about the defection of some senators, Mr Oshiomhole said many of them are victims of misinformation.
“There was a clear attempt by a few who have other agenda to try to play up fears and then seek to profit from those fears by spreading misinformation in a manner that they did.
“But like everything that is not based on truth, overtime the truth emerges and people who are victims of disinformation retrace their steps; which is why a senator from Ogun (Mr Tejuoso) has returned to the fold and I am sure more and more, who left out of confusion and who were misled, I am sure will come back,” he said.
He said the meeting has also agreed that going forward, both the administration of Mr Buhari and the leadership of APC cannot be intimidated or distracted.
“We remain focussed, we remain committed to addressing those critical challenges that confront our country; insecurity, economy and fighting corruption,” he said.
On reports that he tried to entice senators who left with return tickets, Mr Oshiomhole said “there was no departure ticket; how can you talk of return ticket? There are questions that even on their face value, you don’t want to ask.”