APC senators drop plan to remove Saraki as senate president

Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

The senators representing Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, have dropped plans to remove Bukola Saraki as president of the Senate.

Mr Saraki defected to the opposition PDP whose presidential ticket he sought but lost.

Many other senators and members of the House of Representatives also defected from the APC.

Since Mr Saraki’s defection, the APC leadership and some of its senators called on Mr Saraki to resign as senate president or be removed from office. APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was particularly vociferous in his threat to ensure Mr Saraki is removed if he does not resign.

Mr Saraki, however, vowed to remain in office saying he enjoys the support of majority of senators.

Indication that the APC senators had backtracked on the plot to remove Mr Saraki first surfaced on Tuesday when the Senate resumed from a 10 weeks recess. The lawmakers went into a closed-door session where it was reportedly agreed that the Senate should avoid any controversy at this time.

The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe), however, made a formal announcement on Friday after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House.

“We definitely have to bury our hatchets for us to work for Nigeria and Nigerians. Perhaps that might have informed the disappointment of many people that there will be crisis in the National Assembly,” Mr Lawan told State House journalists.

Mr Lawan said all the senators across party lines have agreed to work in national interest.

“I don’t know what informed your view to anticipate crisis but let me tell you that National Assembly will continue to remain focus on national issues, we must be patriotic, nationalistic,” he said.

The senator then suggested the he and his APC colleagues had put national interest above party interest by abandoning the plot to remove Mr Saraki.

“We must put national interest above individual, parochial or partisan interest.

“Let me also say that disagreements are usual. In fact, there are very practical components of any parliament, when you have two to three parties or even within parties, you will have views that may differ.

“It is traditional, it is usual for us to disagree. Maybe these disagreements may crop up and some other issues. But for now, our focus is on national interest,” he said.

When specifically asked if he and his APC colleagues had dropped the plan to remove Mr Saraki, the Senate Leader simply said national interest overrides any other interest for now.

“The National Assembly is a Nigerian parliament and therefore the best thing to do is to ensure that Nigerians gets a good deal and for now the good deal is for Nigeria to have all those pending request of Mr President approved by the National Assembly.

“I think the national interest for now overrides any other interest.

“Our intention is to ensure that Mr President doesn’t lack from inactivity of the National Assembly. That whatever he requests, the fundamental aspects especially will be attended to. This is our determination both as APC senators. In fact as Senate and National Assembly.”

PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how it would have been impossible for the APC to legally remove Mr Saraki.

The ruling party has less than two-thirds senators, the number required to remove a senate president. It will thus require the support of some PDP senators to achieve such task, something it is unlikely to get. Also, Mr Saraki still enjoys the loyalty of many APC senators.

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QueenEsther Iroanusi covers the National Assembly as a junior reporter for PREMIUM TIMES. She has a degree in French. Twitter: @QueenExtha


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