The cracks in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate, may soon break open and widen, as strong indications have emerged that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has launched a fresh offensive to decimate it.
Already, some members of the caucus, believed to be key loyalists of Saraki, are already calling for the resignation of the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Their grouse is simple. They believe that Akpabio is using his position as Senate Minority Leader to shield himself from prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The aggrieved lawmakers, who are about three in number, one of whom is currently in a running battle with the EFCC, is reaching out to PDP Senators to pass a vote of no confidence on Akpabio.
Trouble started for Akpabio last week, when he attended the 65th birthday celebration of a former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, despite the rift between the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader and Saraki.
Akpabio, apart from attending the birthday bash, also placed over four advertorials in key national newspapers, where he congratulated Tinubu and described him as a leader.
Saraki and his loyalists, boycotted the birthday celebration, neither did he place advertorials in any newspaper to congratulate Tinubu.
Within the same period, a prominent member of the PDP caucus, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, had a media war with the EFCC. While the brief media spat lasted, Akpabio did not intervene.
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Nwaoboshi, it was learnt, reached out to Akpabio to issue a release on behalf of the Senate caucus, condemning his ‘harassment’ by the EFCC. It was gathered that Akpabio refused to act.
On Monday, Nwaoboshi, reportedly met with the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu to prevail on Akpabio to convene a meeting of PDP lawmakers.
Nwaoboshi was accompanied to the brief meeting with Ekweremadu by two of Saraki’s loyalists, Senators Samuel Anyanwu and Matthew Urhoghide, both PDP members.
After failing to secure the needed number of votes to compel Akpabio to step aside, the trio, Nwaoboshi, Anyanwu and Urhoghide, boycotted Tuesday’s meeting of the PDP caucus, held at the private residence of Akpabio.
At the meeting, lawmakers were sharply divided on whether or not Akpabio should be booted out. One by one, lawmakers accused him of not speaking up in their defence.
He was also accused of romancing with key APC leaders, especially Tinubu. Akpabio, supported by Ekweremadu, was able to douse the tension. Immediate-past Senate President, David Mark, who was present at the meeting, also intervened.
The crack in the party, prompted the appointment of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe as spokesman of the caucus. It was done to enable the caucus speak with one voice, instead of the current practice where Akpabio calls the shot.
Ripples Nigeria, also learnt that a story, published by THISDAY Newspaper, alleging that PDP Senators discussed how Tinubu is using the EFCC to fight them, was planted by the Senate President, as part of his ongoing move to reduce the growing influence of the caucus.
In the coming days, media reports, it was learnt will be sponsored against Akpabio. In the media reports, Akpabio will be linked with Tinubu with claims that he is working to undermine Saraki.
Some journalists who have already been contacted to do the dirty job, have turned down the offer. In their place, bloggers are being contacted to fill in the gap.
By Ehisuan Odia
RipplesNigeria ….without borders, without fears
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