John Alechenu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress has resolved to explore every legal means to ensure that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, is impeached and replaced with a loyal party member.
This was part of the decisions taken at a meeting between the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, senators and members of the House of Representatives, in Abuja, on Tuesday.
The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, promised legislators loyal to the party that the APC under his leadership would reward loyalty noting that the party’s reward system would be one that would ensure that those who stood with the party in trying times did not regret it.
In what some have interpreted to mean a promise to grant automatic tickets to lawmakers, Oshiomhole said the party stood to benefit from the experience of members of the legislature who had spent time on the job.
He said, “High turnover of legislators is not a value to be celebrated. What we should celebrate is experience which cannot be read in books, but can only be acquired on the job.
“I want to reassure you that we will do everything possible to change the old narrative of heavy turnover every four years and the politics of ‘you have done enough’ will change over time for the good of Nigeria and for the sustenance of democracy.”
While reiterating his earlier call for the impeachment of Saraki as Senate President, Oshiomhole told the legislators that it was an aberration to allow an individual who was a member of a minority party to preside over members of the party in the majority.
He said, “Democracy teaches us that the minority have the right to have their say but the majority must have their way.
“So, if we have 56 senators and they have 49 senators, I insist that 49 senators cannot preside over the affairs of a house in which the APC has 56 senators. And I ask them to tell us anywhere in the world where the minority rules over the majority.
“Often times, we take flights to Washington and other places to understudy the American presidential system of government.
“Once you lose the majority, without further ado, you step down. Let me restate that we cannot be subjected to minority rule in the Nigerian Senate and, therefore, whether it is convenient for Distinguished Senator Saraki or not, the truth is whether by morality or by law or by convention, Senator Saraki can only avoid impeachment by toeing the path of honour, step down so that the APC can take over the leadership of the House.
“I want to repeat, Sen. Saraki as President of the Senate will be lawfully and democratically impeached. It will not be illegally done. It will be done according to law and tradition.”
Oshiomhole accused a section of the media of pandering to the whims of the opposition in such a way that the APC was painted in a bad light.
According to him, the party will continue to insist that the right things are done and that no amount of blackmail can deter it.
He stressed that after Saraki’s impeachment, his lawyers would be free to go anywhere to contest the legality or otherwise of the action.
The party chairman reiterated that there was no longer a hiding place for the Senate President because according to him, “Saraki’s time is up.”
He noted that the abrupt manner in which the presiding officers of the National Assembly adjourned plenary indicated that they had placed their personal interests above those of the nation.
Oshiomhole said, “Let me assure all of us that the National Working Committee is making this promise publicly and we are doing you no favour. Legislation and the legislature require experience because nobody can give what he does not have. We see people like Senator McCain, when they speak American people listen.
Earlier, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, asked the party leadership to reconsider its reward policy to give those who had shown fidelity to its course a true sense of belonging.
He said, “This has been a season of defection, reflection and sacrifices. Most of our colleagues here have sacrificed their friendship to remain where they are and to do exactly what the party wants.
“I am sure that this season is also a season of regrets because some of our people who left have already seen the real sign.”
He said he had reports that those who had left the party for another were not finding it easy where they had gone to and were already full of regrets.
Lawan said, “Every senator or House of Representatives member in the APC fold today deserves very gentle handling and good treatment.”
He advised the party leadership to move swiftly to address some of the problems between legislators and governors to enable it to prepare adequately for the forthcoming elections.
He said the meeting which was earlier arranged to involve governors on the party’s platform did not hold as planned because of the problems associated with logistics but he advised the party leadership to hold a similar meeting with them.
On the call for the National Assembly to reconvene, he said, “We are insisting that the National Assembly reconvene and reconvene quickly so that we pass the budget request of Mr President for INEC to start its preparation for 2019 in earnest.
“We also need to pass the request of the Federal Government to take a loan from foreign countries which will be the only basis for now for the funding of our capital budget.
“To do otherwise would amount to sabotage because we are in a very unusual time because we have the leadership of the National Assembly divided between the opposition PDP and the APC. We have to work hard to ensure that our government is not sabotaged.
“If we don’t pass the budget request, it serves the PDP very well, but it doesn’t serve us well at all because it will negate what we stand for and all the promises we made to Nigerians.”
In response to a direct question from The Punch as to whether he and his colleagues had written to Saraki and Dogara to reconvene the National Assembly, he said, “I have not written.”
Also, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuff Lasun, while speaking earlier, stated, “I am not particularly happy that we are not able to reconvene the Assembly today because we decided a few days back that we were going to sit and consider those items that are very important and may likely hamper the function of INEC and other programmes without which the implementation of the capital component of the 2018 budget would have been slightly difficult.
We are party members and I must say that I like the assurance of the chairman that members are not going to be abandoned because it is always very hot outside there.”
In his remarks, the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, said, “We have to find a way of reconvening the Assembly because as it is, we are heading for a constitutional crisis and an inevitable government shutdown because the two things that need to be done if the budget for the election must be passed and the funding of the capital project and without the approval, that will be difficult. I was with the Minister of Finance a couple of weeks ago and she told me in no uncertain terms that if she did not get the necessary approval from the National Assembly by the end of August, we should forget funding for the capital budget.
“That is why I said it is a task that must be done. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Presiding Officers to allow us to reconvene the House for this singular purpose. It is just a one-day exercise so that we can all go on our break.
“I know that these members will be rewarded for their unalloyed loyalty to the party. We have 196 members in the House and that is about 40 members more than the PDP. With that number, we can do the party’s agenda in the House. Even within the PDP, we also have some members who will join us.”
Meanwhile, a prominent member of the Parliamentary Support Group, a body of APC members in the National Assembly loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has said the APC Caucus was insisting on reconvening of the National Assembly.
When contacted, the Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Yusuf Olaniyonu, said, “The Senate is governed by rules which are not dictated from outside the chamber.
“By the rules of the Senate, two-thirds of 109 is what is required and like the Senate President said, the day he loses the confidence of that number of his colleagues, he will bow out. Oshiomhole needs to be educated.”