Plans have reached an advanced stage to replace Saraki, against the backdrop of his arraignment on a 13-count perjury charge at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Present at the meeting were all members of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF) opposed to Saraki. According to sources, Senator Barnabas Gemade, chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Works chaired the meeting, which started at 3:00pm. It was gathered that the meeting agreed that the Senate Presidency should be retained in the North-central.
A ranking member of the SUF disclosed how “it was agreed that the APC should produce the Senate President and the deputy Senate President and the need for all members of the party to close ranks in the chamber.
“We also agreed that the position should remain in the North-central because we still have ranking Senators from the zone…We will, abide strictly with the Senate rules in the choice of new leaders.”
Ranking APC senators from the North-central zone include Chief Barnabas Gemade, Chief George Akume, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Shaaba Lafiaji and Mohammed Ohiari. The new scenario means Senator Ahmad Lawan has been ruled out of the Senate Presidency race. He is from Yobe State in the North-east.
Several factors were stacked against him. The election of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, a Christian from Bauchi State, in the North-east and the appointment of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal were two major factors which knocked him out of the race. Lawal, hails from Hong Local Government Area, Adamawa State.
With the APC still smarting from the election of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator, Ike Ekweremadu as deputy Senate president, the party is looking towards the South-west to replace him in the proposed new leadership.
Another source privy to last Wednesday’s meeting said the SUF was mandated to “reach out to their colleagues in the chamber because, with the relative advantage in numbers in the chamber, the APC is still fragmented…That is not good for the image of a party that is the majority in the National a$$embly and the Executive arm of government.
“We view the election of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) deputy in an APC-dominated Senate as a mis-match…that will be corrected,” he said. The source was, however silent on Lawan’s fate. The senate president has, however, denied the plot, describing it as “hogwash” and the figment of the imagination of those behind it.
“How can the press report on Tuesday that the Senate president enjoys the overwhelming support of members, only to turn around the next day to say there is a fresh plot to remove him. Let me say that the fresh plot remains only a wish and will never materialize.”
Olaniyonu said that those who were not happy with the rousing confidence vote Saraki secured last Tuesday were doing everything to stir up tension and create discontent where there was none.
He said the nation was getting wary of “incessant fresh plots” that had never seen the light of the day. The Senate president’s spokeman said that the senators had resolved to put behind the past and begin to work in the national interest.