A former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, has said that the crisis in the National Assembly was caused by a miscalculation by the All Progressives Congress leadership.
According to him, the leadership of the party probably underrated the G-5 governors in deciding on those that should vie for top positions in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The miscalculation, he said, played out on the floor of the National Assembly during the election of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives as well as their deputies.
He said this in an interview with reporters in Abuja on Monday.
Kwankwaso was one of five governors who defected from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party to the APC.
The other members of the group were Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Alhaji Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto) and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatai Ahmed.
“The leaders of APC may have underrated the members of the G-5 governors and their potential to do good or to do bad depending on the circumstances,” the former governor said.
He also explained that apart from this, some of his colleagues (ex-governors) in the Senate felt a certain party leader had had a domineering influence on the party and had also had his own fair share of positions.
These, combined with other factors, he claimed, worked against the party’s interest during the elections in the National Assembly.
Kwankwaso also expressed disappointment that the party missed some important steps that it should have taken to avoid the loss it suffered in the National Assembly.
He said, “On the issue of what went wrong with our party with regard to the crisis during the election of the National Assembly leadership, I think so many things went wrong prominent of which has to do with time.
“The election was something that has relationship with time and we know very well that we had so many weeks to prepare ourselves for the elections in the legislative chambers.
“I wished time was really taken to ensure that we had a successful election.
“Although this is not the time to begin to trade blames, many of us had drawn the attention of our leaders to do the right thing at the right time. Sometimes, you might decide to do the right thing at the wrong time that will certainly back- fire.”
He also noted that the APC missed the opportunity of resolving the issues probably because most of the people involved were facing such challenges for the first time in their political history.
Recounting his experience on the day of the inaugural sitting of the 8th National Assembly, he said he was receiving a group of supporters from Kano when he got a call that the election for the Senate leadership had commenced.
According to him, he quickly got into his car and asked his driver to head to the National Assembly complex instead of the International Conference Centre which he had in mind.
He further explained that on getting to the Senate, he saw that elections had been concluded and that Bukola Saraki was being sworn in.
Kwankwaso confirmed that he got a text message from some party officials informing him of the meeting with Buhari at the ICC, noting that the message did not emanate directly from the President.
He expressed disappointment that the situation had polarised the party but said it was not too late to repair the damage and forge ahead.
Kwankwaso said, “I think the party is unfortunately divided but it is not too late to correct things. The party should take steps to correct things and to ensure that the crisis is quickly put behind it.”
He also disclosed that he had advised Saraki not to pursue his ambition to be Senate President but he refused.
Kwankwaso said the decision of the pro-Saraki APC Senators to reach an alliance with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party was a romance taken too far.
He said that the APC should look at the situation and come up with ways to redeem it.
Barring any last minute changes, the APC Board of Trustees and national leaders will meet in Abuja on Tuesday(today) to deliberate on the crisis plaguing the party.
However, unlike previous meetings which were normally advertised, this one was directly communicated to the national leaders and BOT members.
Our correspondent learnt in Abuja on Monday that top on the agenda was the search for truce among feuding members of the party.
The party found itself in a quagmire after the National Assembly leadership elections failed to go the way its leadership planned it.
The APC held shadow elections for aspirants for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House.
At the end of the exercise, the party announced Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as sole candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker respectively.
However, Saraki and Yakubu Dogara,defied the party and went ahead to contest.
Asked if the party was setting up a reconciliation committee to address the fallout of the national assembly leadership crisis, Odigie-Oyegun said, nothing was being left to chance.
“We are working on all fronts and at different layers. I am personally leading the effort,”he said in a text message to The PUNCH
Nassarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura had on Sunday told newsmen in Lafia, that the party leaders would meet in Abuja on Tuesday to deliberate on the challenges facing the party.
It was however learnt from the APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, on Monday that the leadership crisis in the National Assembly might have delayed the sending of the ministerial list to the lawmakers for screening also.
But he said the APC was working assiduously to ensure that the differences among its National Assembly members were quickly resolved in the interest of the nation.
He added, “All other things will have to wait. This is because we don’t want a situation whereby the Senate will be divided if, for instance, the President says he wants to present his list of ministerial nominees.
“So, we are trying to sort that out; it is our number one priority. We are happy that we are arriving at an amicable settlement of the situation; this one cannot wait for long. It has to be immediate .”
He, however, explained that while the party was working with Buhari to build a formidable team comprising tested politicians and technocrats, the decision to appoint ministers and presidential aides was entirely the prerogative of the President.
Odigie-Oyegun, who dismissed insinuations that there was a rift between the party and the President over the ministerial list, appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience with the President because he needed to get a right team.
He said, “There is absolutely no dispute between the party and the President. We agreed that we shall use all manner of people: politicians, technocrats, all manner of people, even if not politicians, who can deliver and who subscribe passionately to the agenda of the President, to move this country forward, irrespective of where the people come from; irrespective of whether the person is a card-carrying member of the party.
“What is important is the qualification of the person and the ability of the person to deliver on the ideas of Mr. President.’’