The ongoing peace talks between the Senate and the Executive may still be deadlocked, despite the suspension of Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.
Lawal who was part of the issues that drew the lawmakers’ wrath against the executive is regarded as a minor part of the grudge against the presidency.
The major bone of contention is the tenure of the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu.
However, a number of lawmakers, including Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crises in the North-East, Sen. Shehu Sani, applauded the suspension of the SGF by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, “It’s commendable for the president to heed the call to fumigate the throne of lice and bugs with the same ability he goes after rodents afar”.
On its part, the Senate which spoke through the Vice Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Ben Murray-Bruce, PDP, Bayelsa State, said: “The suspension is a step in the right direction, I am a member of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East. Buhari is doing the right thing, he should be commended. It is a right step in the right direction.”
It yet to be seen how the latest development will impact on the ongoing peace talks between both arms of government as on Thursday, March 28, the Senate had mandated its President, Bukola Saraki, to meet with President Buhari to come up ways of resolving the feud between it and the Executive Arm of Government.
The decision of the Senate, followed its rejection of a list of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), forwarded to it by President Buhari. The lawmakers had contended that the names will not be confirmed until President Buhari removes Magu as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC.
Ripples Nigeria reliably learnt that Saraki, in company of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and All Progressives Congress (APC) principal officers of both chambers met with President Buhari.
The meeting was held two days after Senate arrived at the decision. That is specifically on the 30th of March. The following week, Saraki, in company of the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, met with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to resolve the feud.
The Vice President, Professor Osinbajo, currently heads the peace committee, set up by President Buhari to reconcile with the National Assembly. Former lawmakers who are Ministers are also members of the committee.
At the end of the second meeting, both parties could not strike a deal. It was learnt that Professor Osinbajo, acting on the instruction of President Buhari, told Saraki and his team that two key actors in the centre of the feud, who are members of the Executive, namely, Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali and EFCC boss, Magu, will not be reprimanded.
Saraki, also acting on the instructions of his colleagues, told Vice President Osinbajo that lawmakers were not ready to back down until Magu was relieved of his position.
The meeting, it was learnt, ended in a deadlock. The last meeting held few days before the Senate went on its Easter break, was between Buhari and Saraki, after a Jumat Prayer at the Presidential Mosque.
The Customs boss and Magu, were both at the Presidential Villa, when Saraki and Buhari met behind closed doors, Ripples Nigeria gathered.
It was learnt that the duo decided to allow the leadership of APC, to handle the reconciliation process, since it was a neutral party in the whole saga.
Saraki, unable to brief lawmakers penultimate Tuesday, decided to hold a meeting with principal officers of the Senate, drawn from APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Heads of state and geopolitical zones’ caucuses were also in attendance at the meeting. It was agreed that the Senate will formally take a position on the issue and whether or not it will allow the leadership of APC to mediate in the saga.
Media aides to the Senate President, contacted to speak on the issue, declined to comment.
By Ehisuan Odia…
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