A ranking senator yesterday revealed how his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) colleagues and those of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who supported the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President were threatened the week preceding the inauguration of the National Assembly.
He also revealed how senators-elect in APC from the North backed out of the Ahmed Lawan-for-Senate President project when they learnt that the intention was to cage President Muhammadu Buhari as plotted by some Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) elements in APC, who nominated the vice president.
The senator from the South-East, who doesn’t want to be named, told Daily Sun that elements who wanted Senator Lawan to emerge as Senate President, essentially from the ACN bloc of the APC did everything possible to ensure they arm-twisted the senators sympathetic to Saraki.
He stated: “Sometime last week, it got so bad that their men stormed the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, where most of us stayed and had our meeting to attack members. The attack came as the last effort after we resisted their inducement.
“Yes, we were all approached to vote the people they wanted in the two chambers of the National Assembly, but we said no. We resisted them because we were on a mission to salvage our party, and we were bent on voting the person that would serve our interest. Now PDP is in the opposition and we have to teach APC a lesson in positive opposition.”
He revealed that if the PDP National Assembly plot had been carried through to conclusion, there are indications that the APC would also have suffered another bad outing in the House of Representatives.
Prior to the elections, there were plans already kept ready for the House of Representatives to also elect a PDP member as the deputy speaker from the South-South.
Daily Sun gathered that the PDP caucus had got into a pact with the Yakubu Dogara camp for Hon. Leo Ogor, a PDP member from Delta State, to be the deputy speaker. But shortly after the election that returned Hon. Dogara as Speaker, the defeated contestant, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, acted fast and approached the new Speaker and pleaded with him that the South-West, with much membership of the House on the APC platform should not be left empty-handed. This point sounded valid to Dogara who immediately approached Ogor for his understanding, and the latter was said to have conceded, stating that if dropping his interest would foster smooth working in the House, he would not mind.
The senator also noted that after they defied several efforts to woo them over, “the same people that had been persuading us resorted to force and had to get security agents to intimidate us and make us yield. It was at that point that we all vacated our suites in Hilton and relocated to the Sandralia Hotel in Abuja to conclude our plans and held to the decision we had taken.”
The lawmaker said although they had facts of the plot as coming from the ACN arm of the APC, “it was the mild drama where some senators walked out of the chamber while in session on Wednesday, a day after the inauguration, that we got the message very clear. As those senators filed out of the chambers, we all noticed that the northern APC members who were among them, from the beginning, remained in chamber. All those that walked out were South-West APC senators.”
However, from what he said, the other major factor that turned the table in favour Saraki was the notion that the plot to ensure that Lawan emerged Senate President was for the ACN bloc to cage Buhari.
“There is this feeling that the ACN bloc had already taken the vice president’s slot, and allowing them determine who manages the National Assembly was like simply taking too much and making sure they manipulate the President with their men around the number one man. That is not politically sound and when the northern senators of the APC were aware of that plot, they had to beat a retreat and align with Saraki.
Also, people who are very close to the President must have revealed to him why the agitation over the National Assembly leadership as targeting him, reason he changed his mind about attending the party’s caucus meeting in the morning, prior to the election of the National Assembly leaders, he explained.
From the disclosure of the senator, the development in the APC over the outcome of the selection of the National Assembly leadership might have caused an early and major crack in the party.
The fear, according to watchers, is that the party might experience early crack that might lead to a split along the lines of the blocs from which the ruling party was formed.