As speculations mount over the future of embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki, plots by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to supplant the majority All Progressives Congress (APC) and take over leadership of the senate are intensifying.
The Nation had reported a few days ago the PDP was plotting a sensational take-over of the upper chamber of the National Assembly in the event that Saraki is consumed by his ongoing trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The party is mobilising its members in the Senate to ensure one of its own replaces Saraki if the presidency of the senate becomes vacant. With that as a goal, it is said to be seriously considering one of the trio of former Senate President David Mark, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, as possible candidates for the position. The Nationalso learnt that the three senators are being supported by various groups within the party and the senate.
The opposition party’s calculation is that some APC senators, especially those in the pro-Saraki’s Likeminds group, may either defect to the PDP or work with the party to once again produce the president of the senate if Saraki is convicted by the CCT.
“The party hopes to win to its side some APC senators to vote for our candidate along with the PDP senators. This is based on our belief that many senators across party lines are unhappy with the ongoing trial of the Senate President and we all know where this is coming from,” a PDP senator told The Nation.
Reliable sources said a meeting of PDP senators and members of Saraki’s Likeminds has been schedule for tomorrow in Abuja to discuss recent developments within the upper chamber and decide how the pro-Saraki lawmakers will react.
“While I know we will be discussing how to stall any plan to remove Saraki from office, I am also aware that we will be talking about how to ensure that APC doesn’t take over the leadership of the senate even if Saraki has to go. Already we are positioning our men in readiness for another political battle on the floor of the senate. If Saraki is forced out, we will replace him with one of our own,” another source said.
The Nation learnt that those pushing the candidacy of Ekweremadu are of the opinion that being the current Deputy Senate President, it is only normal that he be supported by PDP senators and Saraki’s loyalists to emerge as the Senate President should the latter lose the battle to remain in office.
“Ekweremadu is the current Deputy Senate President. He has shown loyalty to his boss and he is a loyal party man too. Many of us are of the opinion that it is natural that he be supported by PDP senators and Saraki’s loyalists to emerge as the Senate President should the latter lose his position as a result of his ongoing trial.
“We have made this clear to the caucus and the party leadership and he is seriously being considered by all stakeholders as a good candidate for the job. Ekweremadu’s experience as a Deputy Senate President of many years is also a great advantage. He is well suited for the job and he is well loved by many of his colleagues,” our source said.
Another factor working in favour of Ekweremadu, The Nation learnt is the quest by the South East geo-political zone to be represented among the top political office holders in the land. “The fact that he is from the South East is another factor working for him. Many senators will reason with the need to give the zone some sense of representation in the current arrangement,” our source added.
For Akpabio, the possibility of replacing Saraki as the next Senate President is being pushed largely by those opposed to Ekweremadu’s emergence. He is also said to be enjoying the backing of former governors now in PDP and Likeminds senators.
“Akpabio is the choice of those opposed to Ekweremadu for one reason or the other. He is also the candidate of his fellow ex-governors who are in Saraki’s camp or in PDP senate caucus. Their desire to ensure Ekweremadu is stopped from becoming Senate President may split the camp of pro-Saraki lawmakers,” our source added.
Meanwhile, a third group is said to be rooting for the return of David Mark as the Senate President to forestall further friction between the pro-Ekweremadu and pro-Akpabio camps. According to reports, the former Senate President’s status as the unofficial leader of the party in the National Assembly largely informed the decision to draft him into the race.
“Senator Mark is the real leader of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly. So, many of us feel he is the best man to be returned to the position after Saraki. His choice will also end the dangerous rivalry between the other groups and ensure that we do not lose the contest should the need arise,” our source added.