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[BREAKING] 10th NASS: APC disowns principal officers named by Akpabio Abbas

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Days after the inauguration of the Senate president, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, they are now embroiled in a tussle with the leadership of their party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

It would be recalled that hours earlier, the Senate President and Speaker had, after a closed-door meeting with members, come up with other principal officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly by consensus, allegedly without input from the party hierarchy, unlike what played out in their emergence before they went on recess.

While Akpabio picked Opeyemi Bamidele, Dave Umahi, Ali Ndume and Lola Ashiru as Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip in the Senate respectively, Abbas named Julius Ihonvbere and Kingsley Chinda as Majority Leader and Minority Leader respectively in the House of Representatives.

They both represent the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The PDP, Labour Party, LP, and New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, shared other minority positions in the House of Representatives.

Angered by this development, the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC, immediately disowned the majority leadership positions announced by Akpabio and Abbas, saying the party had not officially communicated with both presiding officers.

National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu disowned the leadership of the National Assembly, as governors elected on the platform of the party pledged their loyalty to the party leadership.

Adamu spoke at a meeting with the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, led by Senator Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, met with members of the National Working Committee, NWC, in Abuja yesterday.

Akpabio, Abbas on their own — APC

Addressing the governors, Adamu said it is the party’s responsibility to communicate such decisions to the assembly leadership, saying the NWC under him is not about to break away from tradition.

He said: “The essence of today’s invitation is simply to rub minds with you as a matter of courtesy. You will get an update on the National Assembly, sharing of powers, particularly the leadership of the chambers.

“The election of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President, the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives have been determined and they have now assumed their responsibilities.

“The remaining offices at the two chambers is yet to be done. I had a courtesy call on Saturday from the President of the Senate and his deputy. The following day which was Sunday, I received a visit from the Speaker and his deputy coming to me for Sallah’s homage.

“But I am just hearing rumours now from the online media that there have been some announcements in the Senate and House of Representatives. The national headquarters of the party or the NWC has not given any such information or communicated about the choice of the remaining offices and until we formally resolve and communicate to them in writing which is the normal practice as had been done before we came here, it is not our intention to break away from tradition.

“So, whatever announcement is done either by the President of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, Speaker or Deputy Speaker, is not from this secretariat.

“We are going to formally inform you that we are going to have a caucus. For quite some time, there has been no caucus in place. The caucus has been reconstituted according to the constitution of APC and we will be discussing that with you.

‘’As governors, you know your states more than we know it. Even if we come from the same state, the leadership is in you as governors. We will hear your advice and then see how we can ensure that we are in complete compliance with the provisions of the constitution of the party.

“We hope we will be receiving some reports from the Progressive Governors Forum chairman or his representative, to get to know your thinking, your feelings on what to do to improve the chances of the party and, therefore, reduce the problems and bickerings we have been hearing from time to time.

“Along with the caucus, the National Advisory Council, we will give you the list that has been prepared and make sure every state is represented and we will give you the knowledge of it before the date so that if there is any advice, you will give us before the date.

‘’You will also be given the details of the audit of accounts from April 2022 to April 2023. The Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, the account has been audited and it has been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by the party”.

APC govs speak

In his remarks at the meeting, Uzodimma said: “I think the party has a responsibility, working with progressive governors, speaking for all progressive minds in the country, to support the policies and programmes of the administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president.

“While we are doing that, we are also ready to market these policies to critical stakeholders, organized labour, the political class, the private sector, into understanding the benefits of certain decisions that have been taken of late by the government.

“We are loyal to the party completely, and we assure the leadership of the party that all the governors here are constructive partners in the job of building our party and are willing to work with the party and submit to the ideas and norms of the party.

“We don’t have another party. This party is the largest party in black and white Africa, and we will have to run with it”.

Speaking after the meeting, he said the NWC is working on having an audited account that would be presented to the national caucus. It was just mentioned, it has not been presented”, he stated.

On Adamu’s position on the principal officers of the National Assembly, Uzodinma said: “Chairman never said they are on their own. The National Assembly leadership belongs to our great party and they are members of our party and they enjoy our support.

“If there is any way there is a communication gap anywhere, we will make it up and we have our internal mechanism of resolving such things. The National Assembly leadership enjoys the support of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and that of our party. We don’t have any problem at all.”

Some of the governors at the meeting were those of Imo, Kogi, Ekiti, Niger, Ebonyi, Benue, Jigawa and several others.

Akpabio announces Bamidele Senate leader, Umahi deputy, Ndume Chief Whip, Ashiru Deputy Whip
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, yesterday Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central, as the Senate majority leader and former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno as the Senate Chief Whip.

Reading a letter from the All Progressives Congress, APC, caucus, Akpabio also announced Senator Dave Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South), as the deputy leader and Senator Lola Ashiru (APC, Kwara South), as the deputy whip.
Akpabio said: “The All Progressives Congress, APC, caucus of the Senate after consultations, has emerged with their leadership which will be the fulcrum of commencing other businesses of the chamber.

“I am happy to announce that by consensus, the Senate Majority Leader is Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.”
He also announced Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau North), as the Senate Minority Leader and Senator Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central), as Minority Whip.

Akpabio equally read the names of Senator Oyewumi Kamorudeen Olarere (PDP, Osun West), as Deputy Minority Leader and Senator Rufai Hanga (NNPP, Kano Central), as Deputy Minority Whip.

The announcement of principal officers of minority parties showed that old senators such as Aminu Tambuwal (PDP, Sokoto South); Seriake Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa West); Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central), and Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central), all lost out in the political game and intrigues. Prior to the announcement, Akpabio had entered the hallowed chamber at 11.18 am, prayed at 11.20 am and asked Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia North), to move for the adoption of votes and proceedings of June 14; it was seconded by Senator Onyewuchi Ezenwa (Imo East).

Earlier in his remarks, Akpabio urged senators to focus on what brought them to the National Assembly, adding that the challenges currently facing the country must be addressed.

He stressed the need for stability in the country by working in synergy with the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government.

According to him, senators must work together and put the interest of the citizens above primordial interest.

The Senate President noted that the issue of oversight remains one of the cardinal assignments of the Senate and must be pursued vigorously to achieve the renewed hope of the government.

Reacting to the list of minority principal officers read on the floor of the Senate, Senator Garuba Musa (PDP, Kebbi South), said he was never informed of the selection of principal officers, saying nobody called him or informed, even by text message that signatures were being collected.

He said: “I always tell people that I am an accidental politician because my people came to me without notice that I must contest. I had no plans of my own in politics.

‘’But now that politics is really taking place, I cannot imagine that as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a minority party, a minority leader has emerged without even sending me a message that I am seeking your vote or concurrence, support to be a minority leader. What type of party are we having in PDP?
“We have 36 of the 50 senators that are in the minority caucus and then we cannot even come together and agree who should lead us.

“I have nothing against those who emerged. If 36 senators out of 50 have signed as it is said and I believe they did, I just believe from an outsider, not a politician that this is not a system that must be encouraged because if we must lead this country, we must be transparent to each other.

‘’I might not vote for you but I should be able to have knowledge that you’re vying for something and you should be able to know that even if I oppose you will still win but to come to the Senate and just hear that some people have sat down and agreed that six senators have been nominated minority leadership is difficult to understand.

“I am not against those that have emerged; we are willing to join forces because there is no time to fight now.

“I never knew they were signing, nobody called me, nobody informed me, not even an SMS. We have a minority caucus where we have been meeting regularly, the issue was never discussed.

“We were at the PDP secretariat yesterday (Monday) and we were told that nothing has been finalized. We told the PDP secretariat that if anything is finalized, they should please write a letter to the Senate telling us that we have not agreed on the leadership of the minority caucus.

“Unfortunately, those who were there refused to write this letter, either because they are aware or they are culpable. We don’t have a problem, two wrongs do not make it right.

“Leadership has emerged, we are willing to work with them to make sure the Senate succeeds. We are not afraid of anybody and we want to be plain and clear. Nigeria is a project that must be developed in a transparent manner.’’

Minority Leader: PDP NWC tackles Akpabio

On its part, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, expressed reservations over Akpabio’s decision to read an unapproved list of Senators for minority positions.

It was, however, gathered that the NWC will meet today to determine the next step.

A top-ranking party leader, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said: “There is enough blame to go around for what happened.

“I’m sorry to say, our experienced Senators didn’t bring their experience to bear by not taking preemptive action.

“We had intelligence that a list which didn’t have the party’s impute was to be read and shared this information with our members at yesterday’s meeting but here we are.

“From our end, we could have done better by resolving whatever issues there were before yesterday’s resumption but we were more concerned about carrying everyone along.

“What is done is done, we are left with picking up the pieces, rebuilding our party and moving forward.
“A weak and divided opposition is what the APC requires to build a one-party state on its way to becoming a dictatorship.”

We’ll constitute special, standing committees before end of July — Senate leader

Speaking after his selection yesterday, the Senate leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, said his emergence was not a matter to be determined by the political party but a resolution of members of six minority parties in the National Assembly.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Senator Bamidele said the Senate would constitute special and standing committees before the end of the month.

He said: “For us, the next task is to ensure we hit the ground running so that from tomorrow (today), we are able to take steps to show that we have a clear understanding of what is to be done.

“The first task ahead of us is to constitute special committees of the 10th Senate. Our rules make provision for six special committees.

“This is so that every senator can get busy, based on their own professional background and can properly fit into the sector where they can add value.

“We are ready to attend to correspondence from the executive. Through the Committee of the Whole of the House, we will commence with the confirmation hearing of service chiefs and some other appointees who had been named by the President.

“By the grace of God, we will be able to make a difference that will be positive, that will be worth the effort of all of you that worked with us in ensuring that the two presiding officers emerged in a manner that was not rancorous. But, of course, the emergence of the remaining principal officers of the 10th Senate was not an issue that was meant to be decided on the floor.

“Rather, it was an issue which on the one hand as related to the All Progressives Part, (APC, needed to be decided among the critical stakeholders of the party. This was what led to the emergence of the officers.

“On the other hand, with respect to the minority parties, again it wasn’t entirely a party affair because it wasn’t a typical situation where you have one opposition party but rather six political parties were involved.

“Fifty of our colleagues were involved. So rather than it being a decision to be taken at the secretariat of political parties, it was more of a decision taken by members who were elected on the platform of the six minority parties.

“Thirty-eight of them by virtue of their signature took a decision as to who their leaders will be and, of course, this was also communicated to their respective political parties and as democrats, all the presiding officers did was to follow suit because more than a single majority had decided.”

Before his selection yesterday as Senate leader, Senator Bamidele had spent eight years in both chambers of the National Assembly where he chaired important committees. He was chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in the 9th National Assembly.

He is the founder, Principal Attorney & Head of Chambers at the Law Office of Opeyemi Bamidele & Associates (with offices in Asokoro District, Abuja and Lekki Phase 1, Lagos) from where he is at the moment on leave of absence.

Bamidele is a New York Attorney, member of the 7th House of Representatives and three-term member of Lagos State cabinet between 2000 and 2011 when he served as. commissioner in different ministries and under two governors.

He had served as Senior Legislative Aide, SLA, to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 1992 when Tinubu was a senator.

Abbas names Ihonvbere Majority Leader, Chinda Minority Leader

In the House of Representatives, the speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, announced Julius Ihonvbere, representing the Owan federal constituency of Edo State as the majority leader, while Kingsley Chinda, who represents Ohio/Akpor federal constituency of Rivers State was picked as the minority leader.

Other principal officers from the majority caucus as announced yesterday included Abdullahi Ibrahim Halims (Kogi, APC), the deputy majority leader; Usman Bello Kumo (Gombe, APC), chief whip and Adewumi Onanuga (Ogun, APC), deputy majority whip.

Similarly, Kingsley Chinda was picked as minority leader; Ali Isa JC (Gombe, PDP) minority whip; Ali Madaki (Kano, NNPP) deputy minority leader; and George Ozodinobi (Anambra, LP) deputy minority whip.

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