By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has said that their counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC) are nursing phobia for the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over their belief that he can still influence who emerges the Senate President in the 9th Session even without being in the Senate.
In a statement issued by the Senate Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti Central), in conjunction with the chairman of Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi West), the PDP Senate caucus urged the ruling APC to focus on how to avoid crisis in their struggle for the position of Senate President.
In the statement, the PDP Senate caucus also challenged their colleagues in APC to go and concentrate on how to convince the Senators-elect and ensuring that the election of the next Senate President takes place in a conducive atmosphere with a view to strengthening the institution and making it perform its constitutional roles, without any hindrance.
The PDP caucus stated that it has observed closely as the contenders for the various Senate leadership posts in the APC sponsor various publications in the media to make it appear that Saraki is seeking to play a role in who occupy the various leadership posts in the next Senate.
The PDP Senate caucus warned that such surreptitious attempts to drag Saraki into the issue that does not concern him would not augur well for the smooth take-off of the next Senate and could only create suspicion and ill-will among the incumbent Senators and the incoming ones.
According to the Caucus, “We have noted with regret and surprise how some Senators who are interested in becoming the next Senate President and those seeking to occupy various leadership positions in the next Senate have been busy dragging the name of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, into their schemes for fulfilling their ambitions. We believe those involved in this dirty game are only afraid of the shadow of the Senate President.
“Such people should know that Dr. Saraki is not interested in their plots, schemes and manipulation. His concern now is to continue to provide leadership to the Eighth Senate and to ensure that the Senate achieves as much as it is possible in the remaining two months of its tenure.
“It is obvious that many Senators and even Senators-elect still defer to Saraki. And this is understandable because he is a national leader of the PDP. He is a respected Senator who has also provided solid leadership for the Senate. So, those who are afraid of his influence should find a positive way to deal with that, not sponsoring falsehood in the media.
“Last week, PDP Senators paid Dr. Saraki a visit in his home as a way of encouraging him and in recognition of the personal sacrifice that he has had to make for providing strong and purposeful leadership to the National Assembly, for protecting the independence of the legislature and judiciary, separation of powers, inclusiveness in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Nigeria and working for the creation of a conducive environment for business to thrive. Those who are not sure of their grounds in their quest for Senate leadership are busy putting a spin on that visit.
“Let it be known that no matter the mischief being sponsored by these spineless people, Dr. Saraki knows that it is the duty of all Senators in the Ninth Senate to elect their Senate President and other leaders.
Nobody from outside the Senate has such powers. It is also the right of every Senator to aspire to that position as stated by the constitution. He has benefitted from this practice of Senators within the chambers exercising the right. He is conscious of this fact and will not be a party to any plan to seize or interfere with the process of evolving the leadership of the Ninth Senate.
“We therefore urge the APC gladiators and their handlers to leave Saraki out of their schemes and manipulations”, the caucus stated.