The battle for the control of the National Assembly may be long drawn as the leadership of the All Progressives Congress on Monday insisted on removing the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, of the minority Peoples Democratic Party.
One of our correspondents learnt on Monday that the ruling APC was still miffed that Ekweremadu emerged as the deputy senate president and had vowed never to allow “a senator from a minority party take over the duties statutorily assigned for the majority party.”
A leader of the APC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that Ekweremadu as deputy senate president would hamper the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The APC leader said, “As deputy senate leader, Ekweremadu is automatically the Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Amendment. This is a sensitive position that, statutorily, should not be held by the minority.
“Ekweremadu and his PDP co-travellers will hamper the policies of the Buhari government. By the virtue of Senate rules, a member of the minority is not supposed to be the deputy senate leader; so, he is occupying the post illegally.
“We know the body language of some of these elements to anti-corruption. Nigerians know the stance of Buhari on corruption and insecurity. These elements occupying positions in the National Assembly must be removed. Otherwise, this administration is dead on arrival.”
He said the President was in support of the candidacy of Senator Ahmed Lawan for the senate presidency and had told Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to support APC’s candidates for the principal posts.
“The President has refused to see Saraki and Dogara since they emerged as senate president and speaker respectively. Both Saraki and Dogara have done everything possible to see the President but he has shunned them because he is not happy about their conduct. You can see that the President has seen the Lawan group; this shows where his support lies,” the source added.
Meanwhile, barring any last minute changes, the National Executive Committee meeting of the APC will now hold on Friday.
National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, confirmed this to one of our correspondents in a text message on Monday.
In response to an inquiry from The PUNCH as to whether the party’s NEC would meet in Abuja on Tuesday, Odigie-Oyegun replied, “Necessarily on Friday.”
The PUNCH had earlier learnt that some party leaders at various levels had impressed it upon the party hierarchy to convene the high level meeting in order to find an amicable solution to the crisis threatening the party’s survival.
Members of the 48-member NEC are due to arrive in Abuja on Thursday, our correspondent learnt.
A national caucus meeting said to have been scheduled to hold on Monday was cancelled.
One of our correspondents, who visited both the party’s national secretariat and the residence of Odigie-Oyegun, reported that there was no sign that any meeting would hold at either of the venues as of 8.05pm on Monday.
The APC has been in crisis since the inauguration of the National Assembly on June 9 following the emergence of Bukola Saraki and Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.
The party had announced Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as its sole candidates for the two positions.
Matters were made worse when the Senate President ignored a party directive that the remaining four leadership positions in both chambers of the National Assembly should be conceded to those who “lost out” during the inauguration.