NEWS2019: Presidency, Senate resume hostility as fresh plot to remove Saraki thickens
In this report, writes about another lingering clash between the Presidency and the National Assembly over fresh plots to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki.
As part of the plot to clear the road for the re-election of President Buhari, his strategists have identified two northern political Turks who should be closely watched and neutralized as soon as possible.
The two are Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Tambuwal Sokoto State. However, while the group has been able to use other northern governors to hold Tambuwal down and he is believed to have been taken care of, the pro-Buhari group believes Saraki is the more dangerous and difficult opponent to mow down.
The group believes that they need to quickly move to neutralize Saraki by all means possible before it gets to the critical stage in the count down to the period of the presidential primary elections.
They believe that his hold on the Senate is too strong and that it provides a solid platform for the Senate President to mobilize against Buhari or even get the APC ticket or move into the opposition PDP.
This is in spite of the fact that Saraki has not made any open or hidden move to seek the number one office. Some other recent developments even gave the PMB group more jitters as to how they need to quickly move against Saraki.
First, they were not happy that Saraki gained public acceptance when he cut short the recess of members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream to investigate the fuel scarcity that marred the Christmas and New Year celebrations by Nigerians.
They believe the Senate intervention exposed the inadequacy of the executive in the management of the crisis.
Again, the debate of the security situation by the Senate on January 17 during which some members took clear shots against the executive, particularly on the reluctance of Buhari to decisively intervene, made the President and the entire executive look bad.
The debate and the visit by the Senate Adhoc Committee led by Sen. Ahmed Lawan to Benue State when the executive appeared to be dithering on the situation was another development that rankled the Presidency.
Saraki was widely perceived to have provided leadership at a critical period and filled a void in a period of national crisis.
More importantly, last Tuesday amendment of the Electoral Act by the House of Representatives in which the Presidential election would come last has further opened more battle fields for the Pro-Buhari group and invariably dragged Dogara into the ranks of those the group have vowed to deal with.
It is believed that the Senate would also pass the proposed amendment and that if Saraki and Dogara put their minds to it, they could get their colleagues to override any presidential withholding of assent.
With the new order of election, the President’s re-election bid is clearly in jeopardy or at least, the move would send a clear signal that the President does not have the support of key politicians.
It was gathered that during a strategy session by the group, reference was made to a decision of the Appeal Court on whether the legislature could fix the order of the election.
However, it was revealed that what the court said the legislature could not do is to fix date of elections as that is said to be an administrative decision for the electoral body to make.
As for order of elections, the court did not feel the legislature had gone beyond its powers. Meanwhile, the pro-Buhari group had since launched a counter attack.
The first was the series of meetings allegedly held by the proposed Director-General of Buhari Re-Election Campaign Committee (BRECC), Rotimi Amaechi with former members of the National Assembly, some serving senators and some political leaders on how best to impeach Saraki.
The meetings whose graphic details were reported to the Saraki team was exposed on the floor of the Senate by Senator Hama Isa Misau from Bauchi State in his contributions to the debate on the Benue Killings on January 17.
It is believed that the pro-Buhari group has assessed the efficacy of Amaechi’s moves and found out he was not making any progress. The Transport minister is believed to have no clout in the Senate as he has no single loyalist in the Red Chamber.
He is also said to be unpopular among Senators who perceive him as arrogant. Further investigations revealed that reports reaching the Aso Rock group is that any attempt to impeach Saraki would only give him another opportunity to get a popular vote of confidence as an overwhelming majority of the lawmakers are solidly behind the Senate President.
The recent sudden announcement by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that following the Court of Appeal decision that it should retry three of the 18-count charge against Saraki, the prosecution and the defence should appear before it on February 6 was said to be part of the plan to deal with Saraki.
The two parties had actually filed Appeal and cross-appeal at the Supreme Court, a fact known to the Presidency. And it is trite law that when a matter is before the Apex court, all other courts will have no jurisdiction on the matter.
However, it is being said that the Presidency simply used the CCT announcement to score three points – embarrass the Senate President, remind him and the general public that have forgotten about the case that the matter is still alive and to remind Saraki that they still have a hold on him and further pressurize him to back down on his perceived antagonism.
The Pro-Buhari group immediately after the Senate plenary on January 17 invited a few Senators to the Villa. Among those in attendance are Senators Adamu Abdullahi, Senate leader Ahmed Lawan and Abu Ibrahim.
The purpose was to determine why the Senate President would allow some Senators to openly take a swipe at the President and the administration on the floor of the Senate during a live broadcast.
The group in their submission identified four Senators who they said are the arrow-heads of the anti-Buhari sentiment in the Senate. They are Misau, Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani and Sen. Sabi Abdullahi.
The pro-Buhari group believes the Senators are being used to give verbal expression to the plan by Saraki to take on the President. But Recall that apart from Sabi Abdullahi who actually has not attacked the Administration or the President directly at any forum, the three others have personal grouses against the Presidency which they perceived as undermining them in their various constituencies.
Sabi Abdullahi’s sin is said to be that as a member of the late Emir Haliru Dantoro family, the Buhari group had expected unalloyed loyalty from him to their cause, because of the close relationship between Buhari and the late Emir.
However, as the spokesman of the Senate, Abdullahi is said to have signed anti-government press statements emanating from the Senate. He has also remained very close and loyal to Saraki.
In the case of Misau, the way the government is handling his allegations of corruption, abuse of powers and other ethical issues against the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris Kpotum, has antagonized the outspoken Senator from Bauchi State. Misau believed the Presidency is condoning corruption to protect one of its own and fight him for exposing some ills in the police. As for Shehu Sani, he believes the pro-Buhari group are massing behind Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai in the supremacy battle over who controls the State between the duo.
Just recently, el-Rufai, emboldened by the support from the Villa, has instructed all ward chairmen in Kaduna Central to endorse one of the Governor’s aides, Uba Sani, for the Senatorial ticket in 2019. Like Sani, Melaye has been taking the battle to his Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, in Lokoja knowing full well that the governor enjoys the support of Aso Rock despite some criticism from the state.
Dino Melaye had recently alleged that the governor was deploying massive resources in order to enable him seize the control of the APC State Executive Committee which is presently loyal to the lawmaker.
With the ongoings, what is not known is at what point the group will start firing at Dogara, even when they had vowed to deploy all weapons in their arsenal against Saraki.
It is, however, believed that just as they did in the fight between Dogara and Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin in 2016, they may choose to avoid opening too many battle fronts soaring the Speaker.
However, political watchers are at alert to see what next the Presidency would do to Saraki. What is certain is that the fresh war may encompass both the Executive and legislative arms.
And as the 2019 general elections approach, unless the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) where the major players in the Cold War belong, intervene, it may signal a slip for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to cash in on.