Saraki’s loyalists beg Buhari
Some loyalists of Senate President Bukola Saraki are beating a retreat in the lingering cold war with the All Progressives Congress (APC) hierarchy over the leadership crisis in the Red Chambers.
They have already reached out to President Muhammadu Buhari for the purpose of reconciling with him and, by extension, the party leadership.
It was learnt that members of the peace team are also likely to meet with a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
However,the Saraki loyalists were said to have left the first meeting with Buhari “uncomfortable” on account of his body language.
Saraki and his loyalists had defied the party by rejecting its candidates for principal positions in the Senate.
They shunned the June 9 meeting convened by the APC to resolve the matter and teamed up with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to elect their own candidates including Saraki as Senate President and PDP’s Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy.
It was gathered that House of Representtives Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s compliance with the APC’s directive on the choice of principal officers in the House was largely responsible for the change of heart by Saraki and his supporters having being put under pressure by Dogara’s move.
It was gathered that the Buhari/ Saraki’s loyalists and strategists meeting took place at the Presidential Villa a few days ago.
It was shielded from reporters for what a source described as “avoiding media backlash on the fresh peace process.”
The “peace team” ,according to sources,was led by Senate Leader Ali Ndume.
Among those who accompanied him were Senators Adamu Aliero, Danjuma Goje, Kabiru Gaya and Abdullahi Adamu.
Two of the Senators admitted last night that they were at the meeting.
The others could not be reached.
Investigation revealed that the Senators were disturbed that all is not well between the Senate and the Presidency.
The mild drama at the Abuja Eid ground during the last Eid-el-Fitr festival when the President and Saraki barely exchanged greetings was said to have made the “peace session” inevitable.
Besides, the President is said to have refused to meet and discuss policy issues with Saraki,causing more anxiety for loyalists of the Senate President.
A reliable source: “These Senators, comprising mainly of some former governors came to explore peace between the Presidency and the Senate.
“Obviously, the Senators were subtly running an errand for Saraki. I think their trip was a consequence of the Abdulsalami Peace Committee’s meeting with Saraki.”
One of those at the meeting with Buhari said: “It was actually a family affair thing. When you see a threat looming, you do not need to wait till it becomes a bigger challenge.
“We are doing everything to reconcile the President and the Senate President and other stakeholders in APC to move forward.
“We want to see that everything goes on well. Whatever is the problem, we are going to sort it out.
“There is no point pretending. The President and some APC leaders have been unhappy with the Senate President. We cannot allow the crisis of confidence to fester. This is why we decided to intervene.”
Another source on the trip said: “Yes, the President gave us audience in spite of the fact that he was not too happy with some of us on the roles we played. But I commend his magnanimity.
“We explained the situation of things to him and why he should forgive and forget whatever went wrong. We know what to do in the spirit of reconciliation to accommodate the Ahmed Lawan group.”
Asked about the countenance of the President after the session, the source added: “Uncomfortable but hope is not lost. I won’t tell you what the President said at the meeting.
“I think the President’s grouse was that the party’s directive was ignored despite his appeal that Senators should respect party supremacy. He does not hate Saraki.”
It was gathered last night that some Senators had been approaching a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for reconciliation on the Senate crisis.
It was learnt that Senate Leader Ndume is also coordinating the “reach-out- to-all initiative.”
There were strong indications last night that Ndume might have made some shuttles to Lagos to meet with Tinubu and some APC leaders.
The overtures could not be independently confirmed from Ndume as at the time of filing this report.
A respected APC top shot said: “I think it is a jealously guarded script being driven by Ndume.
“The reality is that Dogara’s deference to party’s directive has put pressure on Saraki and the APC caucus in the Senate.
“While Dogara opted to be his own man at the last minute, Saraki’s loyalists stuck to their script which has put the Senate on the edge and created mutual distrust between the President and the Senate President.”
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on June 23 letter wrote Saraki on the party’s position on the sharing of principal offices in the Senate.
The letter, referenced APC/NHDQ/NAM/01/015/05, said: “Please find below for your necessary action names of principal officers approved by the party after excessive consultations for the 8th Senate as follows: Sen. Ahmed Lawan (Majority Leader)—North-East; Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Chief Whip)—South-West; Sen. George Akume (Deputy Majority Leader) —North-Central; and Sen. Abu Ibrahim (Deputy Chief Whip) —North-West.”
But Saraki said it was impossible to comply with the directive of the party because the principal officers had already been selected before the letter was received.
A source in Lawan’s camp said: “We were aware of the meeting between the President and the affected Senators. They said they are after peace, but without putting options on the table.”
Saraki himself is confident that the Senate will bounce back after what he calls some distractions.
The Senate President in a tweet yesterday said: “Although the 8th Senate has had some distractions,we have hit the ground running.
“When we return, Nigerians can expect more oversight actions.”