APC kicks, NASS launches defence as Bamidele emerges Senate leader, Ndume Whip, Reps name top officials too


Fresh crisis is brewing within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the choice of principal officers by the majority party in both chambers of the National Assembly.

While the National Assembly described the process as transparent, the APC said it was undemocratic and therefore distanced itself from the exercise.

The exercise

At the plenary Tuesday,   Senate President Godswill Akpabio had announced Senators Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central) as Leader, Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) Chief Whip, David Umahi (APC Ebonyi South) Deputy Leader and Lola Ashiru (APC Kwara South) Deputy Whip. 

In making the announcement, Akpabio told the lawmakers that appointments of the majority principal officers was sequel to a letter written to that effect by the APC caucus in the Senate.

Thirty minutes after a hurriedly held closed door session, the Senate President announced names of principal officers via a letter written and forwarded by 38 of the 50 senators belonging to the various minority parties.

“In politics, minorities use to have their say and the majority its way. 38 out of the 50 senators belonging to the six minority political parties in the Senate have chosen Senators Simon Davoe Nwadkwon (PDP Plateau North) as Minority Leader, Oyewumi Olalere (PDP Osun West) as Deputy Minority Leader, Darlington Nwaokocha (Labour Party Abia Central) as Minority Whip and Rufai Hanga (NNPP Kano Central) as Deputy Minority Whip,” he said.

But in an interview with journalists after the plenary, Senator Garba Musa Maidoki said the decision taken by senators on the platforms of minority parties was not known to him.

He disowned the letter sent by 38 senators to the Senate President, saying “no meeting whatsoever took place among the entire 50 senators on the platforms of minority political parties in the Senate on election or selection of principal officers.” 

He added that the method or process used was undemocratic and non-transparent. 

However, Senate Leader Bamidele, at an interactive session with journalists, explained that the method and processes used for appointments of presiding officers across the divides of majority and minority parties were in order.

He said: “The presiding officers emerged without rancour in a manner that was transparent and democratic. It was an issue that needed inputs of critical stakeholders of the party which were made.

“On the other hand, with regards to the minority parties, 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 fifty of our colleagues were also involved.

“So rather than it being a decision to be taken by political parties, it was more of a decision taken by members who were elected on the platforms  of the six minority parties, and thirty eight (38)  of them by virtue of their clear signatures, took a decision as to who their leaders should be.”

Reps’ principal officers

Also, Speaker House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas announced a new set of principal officers of the 10th House Tuesday during plenary.

This followed two separate letters signed by both the majority and minority caucuses of the House.

Abbas said: “According to the standing rules that members of the minority party shall nominate the Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip, all coming from the minority parties in the House.

“For the minority parties, Kingsley Chinda of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the Minority Leader, while Deputy Minority Leader is Ozodinobi George of the Labour Party, Minority Whip is Ali Issa also of the PDP and Deputy Minority Whip is Ali Madaki of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).”

Also, Speaker Abbas announced Julius Ihombvere as Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader as Halims Abdullahi, the Chief Whip, Bello Kumo, and Deputy Chief Whip as Adewumi Onanuga.
Onanuga is the only female in the House leadership.

‘Choices widely accepted’

Shedding more light on the choices, the House said all the principal officers were widely accepted by their colleagues.

Chairperson House Ad-hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Khadija Bukar Abba told journalists that “it is a uniform decision, and endorsed by the whole members of the House.”

On the committees, she said: “For the committees, I don’t think it will take long. We wanted the leadership to be completed first, so they can be part of the selection process.”

On some of the challenges being faced by members due to use of the temporary sitting chamber, the lawmaker noted that the renovation process of the main chamber may be  completed soon, adding that the contractor had given July 17 deadline which they hoped would be sacrosanct.

APC rejects NASS’ decision

But the APC national leadership has distanced itself from the appointment of principal officers as announced by Akpabio and Abbas.

Speaking Tuesday during an interactive meeting with the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said his NWC was not aware of the decision.

Adamu said: “I am just hearing as a rumour now from the online media that there have been some announcements in the Senate and House of Representatives. The national headquarters of the party, the NWC has 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 traditions. So, whatever announcement that is done is not from this secretariat.” 

On the agenda for the meeting, the national chairman said: “We are going to formally inform you that we are going to have a caucus, and for quite a time, there has been no caucus in place. The caucus has been reconstituted according to the constitution of APC. And we will be discussing that with you as governors, you know your states more than we know it. Even if we come from the same state, the leadership is in you as governors. 

“We will hear your advice and then see how we can ensure that we comply with the provisions of the constitution of the party. 

“We hope that we will be receiving some reports from the Progressive Governors Forum, NGF, Chairman, or his representative, to get to know about your feelings and what is going on. 

“And what is your thinking on what to do to improve the chances of the party and therefore reduce the problems and bickering that we have been hearing from time to time? Then we will have time by the grace of God permitting, we will have interactions. 

“Along with the caucus, the National Advisory Council will give you the list that has been prepared and make sure that every state is represented. And we will give you the knowledge of it and advice. You will also be given the benefits of all the detailed accounts from April 2022 to April 2023. The PCC account has been audited and it has been submitted to the INEC by the party.”

About Taiye Odewale, Joshua Egbodo and Bode Olagoke,Abuja

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