Senate Leader Ali Ndume yesterday met with All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu with a focus on how to reconcile Senate President Bukola Saraki and Unity Forum members, led by Senator Ahmed Lawan.
The Nation learnt that the outcome of the preliminary session might lead to an enlarged session of senators in the Like Minds Group and the Senate Unity Forum.
A source in the National Assembly, who said: “Ndume met with Asiwaju Tinubu about noon and the talks lasted for about an hour. The talks dwell on the reunification of the APC Caucus in the Senate. The Senate Leader said it was time for the crisis in the upper chamber to end.”
The meeting was at Ndume’s request. He is said to be leading a fresh initiative for reconciliation of all senators, who have been locked in a cold war since June 9.
“He pleaded with Asiwaju to bury the hatchet as the election of principal officers on June 9 was not targeted at eroding the political influence of the former governor of Lagos State.
“In fact, Ndume went to the extent of saying that he was ready to make any sacrifice to bring peace to the Senate,” the source said.
Responding to a question, the source said: “It was a strictly personal initiative of Ndume to feel the pulse of Asiwaju who welcomed him with open arms.
“The preliminary meeting was designed to set the tone for an enlarged session between Asiwaju, the Senate President, Sen. Ahmed Lawan and other key actors in the Senate crisis.
“We hope that his colleagues will buy into the project when they resume on September 29.”
Ndume’s visit to Tinubu was the second in one-and-a half weeks when Saraki’s loyalists will seek reconciliation with the aggrieved senators in the Senate’s Unity Forum.
Some Saraki loyalists had met with President Muhammadu Buhari, who advised them to also “reach out to the aggrieved senators in the Unity Forum”.
The aggrieved tabled two conditions for ceasefire.
These are: *respect for the supremacy of APC and compliance with the party’s directive on principal officers; and
* Ndume and the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, should step down for Lawan and Akume – in line with the party’s wish.
Senators in the Like Minds Group want unconditional reconciliation; acceptance of Saraki’s leadership; withdrawal of all suits relating to the election of principal officers on June 9; and withdrawal of the petition on alleged forgery of the Senate Rules 2015.
The APC directed Saraki to accommodate the party’s list of principal officers. He declined.
On the party’s list are: Sen. Ahmed Lawan (Majority Leader)—North-East; Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Chief Whip)—South-West; Sen. George Akume (Deputy Majority Leader) —North-Central; and Sen. Abu Ibrahim (Deputy Chief Whip) —North-West.
But adopting Caucus Politics to sideline the Lawan group, Saraki’s power-sharing formula led to the emergence of the following principal officers: Ali Ndume( Senate Leader); Bala Ibn Na’Allah( Deputy Senate Leader); Francis Ailimikhene ( Deputy Chief Whip).
Although the Office of Chief Whip was ceded to the Southwest, Senators from the geopolitical zone have spurned the offer, insisting that Lawan and Akume must be accommodated before the consideration of any offer from Saraki.
Source: The Nation