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Tinubu, Adamu’s ‘cold war’ worsens as Akpabio, Abbas appoints principal officers

APC governors back NASS principal officers • Reps Speaker rues hardship over fuel subsidy removal.

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio (left) and the new Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele at the National Assembly, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA<br />

• Bamidele emerges Senate Leader, Ndume Senate whip
• Bamidele denies any list from Presidency, says 38 minority senators signed
• Tambuwal loses Minority leadership to Davou • Adamu distances ruling party from appointments
• APC governors back NASS principal officers • Reps Speaker rues hardship over fuel subsidy removal

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Politics Editor), Adamu Abuh and John Akubo (Abuja)

The selection of principal officers of the National Assembly, yesterday, blew open the cold war between President Bola Tinubu and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, as he was blanked out in the decision on how offices were zoned by the lawmakers.

While Adamu distanced the ruling party from the selection of principal officers of the National Assembly APC governors on the other hand, endorsed the appointments and described the new officers as “prominent members of the party.”

Sources close to the Presidency told The Guardian that President Tinubu was privy to the zoning and appointments of the principal officers but expressed concerns at the statement by Adamu that the party was not aware of how the decisions were made.

The source said: “I can confirm to you that President Tinubu was consulted by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, about the appointments before the Sallah holiday. However, I am surprised that the national chairman of the party is claiming ignorance of it. I am sure the matter will be sorted out. It is an internal matter.”

At the resumption of the National Assembly, Akpabio announced the Ekiti Central lawmaker, Opeyemi Bamidele, as the Senate Majority Leader; Senator Dave Umahi (Ebonyi South) as Deputy Majority Leader; Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) as Chief Whip; and Senator Lola Ashiru (Kwara South) as Deputy Whip.

In the same vein, Abbas announced Prof Julius Ihonvbere (Edo) as the House Majority Leader. Other principal officers were Kogi State-born Halims Abdullahi as Deputy Majority Leader; Usman Kumo from Gombe State as Chief Whip and Adewumi Onanuga (Ogun) as House Deputy Chief Whip. On the minority side, Kano State-born Ali Madaki emerged the Deputy Minority Leader and Mrs Adewunmi Oriyomi Onanuga (Ogun) as the Deputy Chief Whip of the House.

Kingsley Chinda, former chairman of the House committee on Public Accounts and an ally of the former Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, had earlier been named the Minority leader of the lower legislative chamber.

In the Senate, it was believed that the G-5 of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by Wike, defeated the candidate of the party, Aminu Tambuwal, by ensuring that Mwadkwon Simon Davou (PDP, Plateau North) emerged as Minority Leader while Oyewumi Kamorudeen Olarere (PDP Osun West) became Deputy Minority Leader.

Others are Dalington Nwokeocha (LP, Abia Central) as Minority Whip and Rufai Hanga (NNPP Kano Central) as the Deputy Minority Whip.
EXPRESSING concerns at how the principal officers emerged without carrying the party along, Adamu, who claimed to have hosted Akpabio during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, said: “I had a courtesy call on Saturday from the President of the Senate and his Deputy. The following day, which was Sunday, I received the Speaker and his Deputy for Sallah’s homage.

“But I am just hearing a rumour now from online media that there have been some announcements in the Senate and House of Representatives. The national headquarters of the party was not given any such information or communicated about the choice of officers.

“And until we formally resolve and communicate with them in writing, which is the norm and practice, 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.”

Adamu, who spoke shortly after the meeting of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), disclosed that the membership of the APC caucus has been reconstituted in line with the party constitution just as he elicited the support of the governors in repositioning the party.

He also promised to render the audited accounts of the party expenditure from April 2022 to April 2023, as well as monies spent by the presidential campaign council (PCC) submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

But Governor Hope Uzodinmma of Imo State, who spoke to reporters after the closed-door parley between APC governors and the Adamu-led NWC threw his weight behind the selection of the principal officers of the National Assembly.

Uzodinma said he, alongside his colleagues of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) would ensure a sound working relationship between the party and the principal officers of the National Assembly.

He said: “The National Assembly leadership belongs to our great party, they are members of our party and they enjoy our support. If there is any way that 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 Progressives governors and that of our party. We don’t have any problem at all.” In attendance at the parley held at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja were Governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dikko Rada (Katsina), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Uzodimma (Imo), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Hyacinth Alia (Benue), Ogbonna Nwifuru (Ebonyi), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Bassey Otu (Cross River), Abdurahman Andulrazak (Kwara) and Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti).

President Tinubu has continued to strengthen his grip on power after being sworn in as Nigeria’s president on May 29, while breaking free from the influence of his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari.

Having effectively taken over the nation’s administrative, economic, political, and military establishments, the president is now plotting to take over the control of his party by installing loyal and trusted allies.

Ahead of the July 10 and 11 meetings of APC National Caucus and the long-awaited National Executive Committee (NEC), there are feelers within the party that the plot to oust Adamu is thickening by the day.

The crucial sessions of the two statutory organs of the party, sources said, will be attended by President Tinubu, his deputy, Kashim Shettima, former President Buhari, past and present APC governors, as well as former and current Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives, National Working Committee (NWC) members and other party stakeholders.

CHARGING the Senators on the challenges ahead, the Senate President said: “The normal challenges facing our dear country are very open before all of us and so as we resume today it is to work with the aim of stabilising the entire country and the current administration of President Tinubu to ensure rapid economic growth which he has shown so far in less than 20 days in office.

“It is against this backdrop that I call on all senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by extension, the entirety of the National Assembly, to work together closely and collaboratively with our citizens before any other primordial sentiments or agenda

“At an auspicious time like this, the country has entrusted us with the responsibility of law making, oversight functions and representations at all levels to shape the policies and make laws and legislations that will impact positively on the lives of our people and think about renewed hope and the birth of a new Nigeria.

“As we resume today, I just want us to focus on the expectations of our conscience and as we do so, may Almighty God help us. We should engage in dialogue and find common ground in all issues. We will work collaboratively towards the greater good that will transcend partisan lines.”

MEANWHILE, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr Tajudeen Abbas, has expressed concern over the hardship faced by Nigerians due to the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.

Speaking in his welcome address, he said it behooves the lawmakers to compliment the ongoing effort by the Executive arm in cushioning the effect of the policy through legislative interventions.

In the address titled ‘In The People’s House For The People’s Mandate’, he said: “I need not remind us that our constituents are going through so many difficulties following the stoppage of government subsidies on petroleum products.

The Speaker identified the huge debt profile, a volatile international oil market, rising unemployment, hyperinflation, a high poverty rate, infrastructure deficit, and de-industrialisation as areas requiring the immediate attention and action of the lower legislative chamber. He noted:
“Though taken in the nation’s best interest, this singular action has occasioned increased commodity prices, transportation and operational costs for businesses and the general cost of living.

The Speaker also stated that notwithstanding the successes of the security forces in protecting lives and property, internal security remains precarious and challenging.

He said the House would take adequate and proactive legislative steps toward further strengthening the security forces to rid the country of the criminals.

Assuring that the National Assembly would open its finances to the public as the Legislature scrutinizes utilization of funds by the Executive and the Judiciary, he said the 10th Assembly will adopt the ‘Open NASS’ project which will not only affect the conduct of oversight and law-making but will equally cover issues around the funds of the National Assembly.

Abbas said while the 10th Assembly is building on the legacies of the previous sessions, the lawmakers must now redefine the modus operandi of legislative business as they advance.

The newly named Majority leader of the Senate, Bamidele, has debunked insinuation that the principal officers emerged from a list delivered from the Presidency. Bamidele spoke to the Press Corps after the plenary on Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the other principal officers, he said they would use the assignment to make a difference that will be positive. According to him, the presiding officers emerged without rancour in a manner that was transparent and democratic.

He said after the election of the Senate President and his Deputy, the emergence of the remaining presiding officers was not an issue to be decided by members, rather it was an issue that needed to be decided among the critical stakeholders of the party, which include members of NWC as well as those already elected into office in the two arms of Government. He said the stakeholders were able to arrive at the decisions that led to their emergence at plenary.

“With regards to the minority, again it was not entirely a party affair, because it wasn’t a typical situation where you have one opposition party, rather six opposition political parties were involved and 50 of our colleagues were also involved. So, rather than it being a decision to be taken at by 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 the minority senators, by virtue of their clear signatures, 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 officer could do was to follow suit because more than a simple majority, an overwhelming majority, had decided.

“With 26 signatures, we have a simple majority out of 50 senators elected on the platform of the opposition political parties, clearly 38 of them signed and again it was a very clear cut situation and we thank God both ways it was devoid of rancour.”

On the way forward, he said for them the next task is to hit the ground running so that from Wednesday, they will be able to take steps so that we have a clear scientific 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 and one of them is the selection committee which would not have been constituted without the principal officers who emerged today and they are the members of the selection committee and with that being constituted we would be able to immediately constitute the remaining five special committees and thereafter spend the next two weeks working on all the other standing committees of the Senate.’’

On the extent to which the Presidency was involved in their emergence he said, “there was no list from the villa, we are also not pretending about the fact that we have two arms of Government being controlled by the same ruling party, we can’t pretend about that.

“In any civilised democracy in the world, the party and by extension those the party has put in governance in all arms of government will show interest in those who lead, our own democracy is fashioned after that of the U.S.

“As a matter of sanctity and as a matter of clarity, the vice president of the country in the U.S. is even the President of the senate. That is the extent of their involvement. Section 60 of our own constitution is clear”.

The Guardian Newspaper Nigeria

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