EZEOCHA NZEH reports that the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, may have incurred the wrath of the party’s State governors, when in total reverse from his earlier position on automatic ticket, he dangled a no barred return ticket before APC senators to impeach Senate president, Bukola Saraki.
At his first meeting with the APC caucus of the House of Representatives, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was very emphatic, when he disappointed the visiting lawmakers at the party’s National Secretariat, who came with a request for automatic to key to compensate them for their loyalty to the party and refusal to join in the gale of defection that hit the APC recently.
House majority leader, Hon. Gbajabiamila, had requested that the APC leadership grant them an automatic return to their seats in 2019, as a compensation for their unalloyed loyalty to the party.
Hon. Gbajabiamila, who led his colleagues to the meeting, argued that the current wave of defections rocking the APC was not without inducements by forces in the opposition camp.
He alleged that mouth-watering offers, which included automatic tickets and large sums of money, were dangled before the APC members in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, which lured them into defecting to the opposition PDP.
Gbajabiamila, warned that those poaching APC members were still making the offers to lure away more members of the ruling party, adding that the party should consolidate on its members by considering offering them automatic tickets in order to retain them in the parliament. “I personally consider it an abysmal failure the attempt to turn APC into a minority party in the House and Senate.”
“Seated before you are very convinced members who are committed to the ideals of our party despite sharing in the grievances of those who have left. It is a time to consolidate and make sure we stay in touch with our members and keep them close, continue to appreciate them, continue to fight for these members. A lot of them are first timers.
“If you want this country to progress, we can’t continue to turn members around. First timers, who have acquired experience to become ranking members and have represented the party at the grassroots level, should be taken into serious consideration and I think they deserve a second term.” Gbajabiamila told the APC NWC
In his reaction, Oshiomhole, who ruled out any form of automatic ticket to members, said the party would consider experience, but more importantly, the value that the individual lawmaker brings to the table in considering who gets the ticket of the party..
“Somebody asked if we are going to counter the PDP by offering automatic ticket and I asked, did we serve anybody a departure ticket? If we did not give you a departure ticket, how did the issue of return ticket arise? For me, we are clear that every legislator who has value and is at home with his people and not with the godfathers in their communities, that legislator is an asset to our party and this party will do everything possible to retain them.
“It can’t be argued that experience should be discarded because in the real world, nobody can give what he does not have and experience is not learnt from the book, but acquired on the job where honest mistakes are made and intelligent and honest people can identify those mistakes, overcome them and move on.”
But with the defection of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his insistence that he can only relinquish his Senate president seat, if he is legally impeached by the Senators, Comrade last week, made a dramatic U – turn from his No automatic ticket position, when he dangled automatic and return ticket to the Senators to impeach Saraki
Oshiomhole, who met with members of the APC caucus in the Senate and House of Representatives in Abuja, said it would be wrong for the party to sacrifice its majority status in the parliament by allowing the opposition to preside over the National Assembly.
While he promised to guarantee a return ticket to the lawmakers, the APC National Chairman said that no court would save the Senate president from impeachment if he refuses to resign honourably.
His words: “Democracy teaches us that minority has the right to have their say, but 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 APC has 56 senators. And I ask them to tell us anywhere in the world where minority rules over majority.
“So, I want to repeat, 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”
While making a sharp U – turn on his earlier position on automatic tickets, Oshiomhole said: “Let me assure all of us that the National Working Committee (NWC) 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. 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 times for the good of Nigeria and for the maintenance of democracy.
“I want to reassure you that we value you; all the stories about people being denied or that you would be frustrated out, I want to assure you that our party values experience; our party values knowledge; our party values loyalty and our party will do everything possible to reward loyalty and demonstrate that loyalty pays and we will not be ashamed to do so. With time, all these shall come to pass and we would have kept our word as you have kept yours.”
He tasked the APC lawmakers to ensure the impeachment of the Senate president scales through in order to avoid government shutdown.
“Ours is to appeal to all of you that your commitment to the sustenance of democracy is enough to get you to do all that you can to get the National Assembly to reconvene so that these and other weighty national issues will be deliberated upon, appropriate decisions reached so that the Nigerian government is not shut down.” he said.
Senate leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan who expressed the joy of his colleagues at Oshiomhole’s return ticket gift noted “Every member here has faced one issue or the other, especially with their State governors. We urge you to intervene very quickly and reconcile all the issues before we go into primary elections. We really appreciate your moves so far, and we urge you to carry to the last, your word of promise to reward our loyalty to the party. We need ourselves to be together. So we all must accommodate each other.”
The promises by the APC National Chairman may not have gone well with the party’s governors, who no doubt may have issues with their Senators, and may have resolved to stop their return to the National Assembly.
For example, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el – Rufai, had boasted at the weekend that he would not allow Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna Central to
return in 2019, despite his new found love with the National leadership of the party.
Many other Senators may have had scores to settle with their State Governors, who may have also penciled them down for replacement in 2019, hence the governors have moved against the tough spoken APC National Chairman.
As the APC gets set for its primary election to pick candidates for 209 election, it however leaves to wonder if Oshiomhole would fulfill his widely acknowledge promise of return ticket, given the current attack on him by the governors, as well as the inability of the APC senators to fulfill their own part of the agreement, which is ensuring the reconvening of NASS and impeachment of Saraki.