- APC leaders in new deals We will put Nigeria first – Senate President
A new triangular rapprochement by power blocs in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is reportedly creating new alliances that have the potential to change the power configuration in some states and ultimately affect ministerial nomination.
States with already-announced nominations, according to the unfolding calculations, may not be immune from the last-minute change to the existing list and the fresh one being compiled to fill the slots of the remaining 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In the unfolding rapprochement and alliances, embattled Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki is projected to be a major winner as two other main power blocs in the party now reportedly look in his direction for favour.
The two main power blocs in the party and polity were said to have realized that it was necessary to have Saraki in their corner to achieve their agenda, with the possibility of sacking him becoming very remote.
The unexpected massive confidence vote he got from 83 colleagues and the unshaken resolve of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to back him, reportedly sent a signal to his traducers that he had become the beautiful bride to be courted.
The reported schism between the camp of APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the presidency over ministerial nomination in the South-West and the suspicion of a likely fight-back, was said to have compelled an olive branch from the presidency to the senate president.
Security reports, particularly an alleged documented conversation among certain leaders of the party, primed to put the presidency on the defensive over the screening, reportedly compelled a new stance on Saraki’s saga in the presidency.
It was learnt that the presidency decided to win him over before he would be inexorably lost to the new opposition allegedly building against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari over the controversial ministerial list.
Both the presidency and Tinubu’s camp had been against Saraki, before now, but the realities of the ministerial nomination, have reportedly forged and forced a new paradigm shift.
Both camps are now reportedly seeking alliances with him.
The new development, according to sources in the mix, is also likely to see certain nominees being tactically dropped, with the Senate conditions likely to be used in stopping their screening.
The presidency which had okayed the controversial screening guideline, could play along in the spirit of the new-found friendship.
One of such endangered nominees is alleged to be the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ahaji Lai Mohammed, representing Kwara State, who has been rejected by the party and major stakeholders in the state, despite his reconciliation foray in both Abuja and Ilorin.
His nomination was said to be a personal appreciation by Buhari of his efforts in keeping the party and its activities in the consciousness of Nigerians from inception to the victory at the polls.
With Saraki now back in Aso Rock’s good books, sources within the party in Lai’s home-state said they would stop at nothing to ensure his dropping off the list and back to Lagos where his son is a state lawmaker, while getting the presidency to pick one of those who worked for the party’s success in Kwara.
Youthful former Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi is alleged to be the likely replacement.
Lai Mohammed’s camp is however fighting back.
The umbrella body coordinating groups supporting his cause, Kwara Descendant Nigeria, which is based in Lagos, plans to storm the state today for a solidarity rally.
Leading members were peeved that the plot to stop Mohammed was tantamount to the Saraki’s camp saying that nobody could be anything in Kwara without such person being from the dynasty.
Another nominee that could be consumed by the new alliances is former Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers.
His camp was said to have been supremely confident before now, according to political sources involved in the power game, on the basis of the assumption that Governor Nnyesom Wike would have been sacked by the election petitions tribunal before the ministerial appointment would take place, with either a more approachable Speaker of the State House of Assembly acting as governor or Mr. Dakuku Peterside of APC already sworn-in as governor.
The new realities are said to be jolting Amaechi’s camp, considering the unconfirmed report that Buhari nominated him as a minister more out of not wanting to expose him to ridicule in the Niger-Delta, than believing in his integrity and competence.
A source close to his camp said Amaechi and his supporters knew that Buhari would not renominate him if rejected once by the Senate, hence his camp’s resolve to do everything possible to stave an imminent rejection.
Meanwhile, Senate President Saraki has said that the upper chamber will put the interest of the nation first during the screening of ministerial nominees slated for Tuesday.
Saraki, while answering questions from journalists after his visit to the Ikenne home of the Awolowos, insisted that the eight Senate would abide by the constitution and rules, to ensure a thorough exercise.
He assured Nigerians that the Senate would do a good job that all would be proud of, saying individual differences against any nominee would not be allowed in any way.
Saraki said, “We have said that for the eighth Senate, it is not going to be business as usual. What I can assure you is that we will go by the constitution and the rules.
“We will put Nigeria first, screening will be done with seriousness and what we are all concerned about is our constitutional responsibility to ensure that we find people who are fit enough to be ministers, and particularly at this time, to give President Buhari the support he requires.
“It is not about who you like or who you don’t like and I want to assure Nigerians that will not be the basis. It will be based on the constitution and based on ability and our own assessment of the capacity of the nominees to perform.
“I am assuring you that individual differences would not be an issue at all, and we have spoken with senators and told them that. At this time, we have made sure that as much as possible, we share with the public, we try to ensure that all we are covered live so that everybody can see.
“We will all be watching the screening from our bedrooms and sitting rooms as well along with the Senators, you’re rest assured that we will do a good job Nigerians would be proud of.”