Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senate Chief Whip, Prof. Sola Adeyeye, and former governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yerima, were absent as the Senate caucus of the All Progressives Congress, APC, paid a solidarity visit on President Muhammadu Buhari at the First Lady Conference Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Wednesday night.
This is even as one of the senators that announced his defection Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Tuesday, Lanre Tejuosho made a surprised return top the APC, telling the President “your son is back.”
His statement drew cheers from both his colleagues and the President.
President Buhari jokingly replied to Tejuosho, saying “what would I have told Kabiyesi”.
The meeting started about 10 p.m. when the President arrived at the meeting.
Although about 53 APC senators were expected at the meeting, only 42 showed up. It was gathered that some of pro-Saraki senators also attended the meeting.
The 42 senators that attended the meeting were Adamu Aliero, Bala Ibn Na-Allah, Aliyu Wamako, Ibrahim Gobir, Kabiru Marafa, Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Gaya, Barau Jibrin, Abdullahi Gumel, Shehu Sani, Ahmed Lawan and Ali Ndume.
Also present were Abubakar Kyari, Baba Kaka Garbai, Aliyu Abdullahi, David Umaru, Abdullahi Adamu, George Akume, Francis Alimekhina, Andrew Uchendu, Magnus Abe, Ovie Omo-Agege, John Enoh, Nelson Effiong, Andy Uba, Sunny Ugboji, Hope Uzodinma, Ben Uwajimogu, Yusuf Yusuf, Oluremi.
Others include Remi Tinubu, Gbenga Ashafa, Solomon Adeola, Tayo Alasoadura, Soji Akanbi, Ajayi Boroface, Yele Omogunwa, Fatima Rasaki, Olanrewaju Tejuoso, Yahaya Abdullahi.
The APC national Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, were also present.
Meanwhile, the senators said they met with the President to assure him of their loyalty, adding that they also informed him that the APC still had clear majority in both chambers of the National Assembly.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, said: “We have come to pay a courtesy call on Mr President, our leader, and we informed him of what happened yesterday (Tuesday) at the Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly.”
Lawan also said they told Buhari that some of their colleagues left the ruling party to join various political parties such as PDP, ADC and APGA.
“We informed Mr President of how we stand in the Senate. As at today, the Senate APC Caucus is 53 in number, followed by the other minority parties.
“The PDP is the largest minority party with 48 senators and then the ADC with 2 senators, APGA has two senators and we have two vacant seats which were occupied by APC senators who are late now,” he said.
He said they assured President Buhari that the APC would reclaim the two vacant seats during the bye-election fixed for August 11.
“By the special grace of God, APC will retain those seats and that will take our majority to 55,” Lawan said.
He said the remaining senators were working with the leadership of APC to ensure that those who defected returned to the party.
Lawan said, apart from APC senators, others from the opposition PDP have also indicated their interest to move to the ruling party.
“I want to say that what has happened in the National Assembly yesterday, particularly in the Senate was supposed to be a disagreement in the family, but I think there was a misjudgment.
“When you disagree, you don’t kill or break the entire house or burn it down, you normally sit down and look for solution and way out.
“Going forward, therefore, we believe that this family will get back all its members and for those that have remained in the Senate APC caucus, will definitely receive the kind of attention and support from our party and administration,” he said.
Lawan also said they told Buhari of their resolve to work with him to fulfil the campaign promises made by the APC, noting that the party campaigned on three core issues, including fighting insecurity, revitalising the economy, especially creation of jobs, and fighting corruption.
He said the APC government was doing well on those promises, stressing that “this administration will end as a very successful one. So far we have done so much with so little in terms of giving development and infrastructure across the country.
“2019 will be the year that this administration will be given a renewal by Nigerians and the National Assembly will witness a higher majority of APC in both Houses by the grace of God and of course, across the states, we will have more states,” he said.
On Buhari’s reaction, Lawan simply said: “What do you expect when children come to their father and their leader? He was happy to receive us, extremely delighted and, of course, he has shown his willingness to continue to support the legislature in the implementation of our programmes as a government, as a party.”
He said President Buhari also assured them of his commitment to work with the National Assembly.
“He believes in the separation of powers, like we all do. But we must have a relationship that will be characterised by interdependence rather than emphasis on independence; by partnership, cooperation, consultation and coordination. And we will give him everything that he requires to ensure that he succeeds,” he said.
In his remarks, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, who is one of the aggrieved senators yet to defect, said he attended the meeting in his capacity as a member of the APC caucus of the Senate.
“My presence here does not mean that my issues have been solved 100 per cent. But I am of the belief that we have a leader in the party who is doing everything possible to see that the problems that we have are solved.”
He said he revolted because he found it necessary to do so, noting that “revolt at times is most necessary. In fact, APC is a reflection of a revolt, it revolted against a system of iniquity, injustice, and today it is in power.
“So, I am here because I believe in the leadership of the party, I believe also in the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and I am also of the believe that there is no issue that we cannot solve as human beings, as men of conscience and conviction.”
On his part, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said he was delighted about the meeting with the President.
Noting that APC had 53 senators out of 107, and that in the next couple of weeks, two more senators will be added to the list after bye elections were held in Bauchi and Katsina states, Oshiomhole said: “The good thing about this meeting is that the senators have come in huge numbers to prove what the Senate leader earlier said, that APC remains the party with the largest number of senators in the Senate.”
Speaking specifically about the defection of some senators, Oshiomhole said many of them were victims of misinformation.
“There was a clear attempt by a few who have other agenda to try to play up fears and then seek to profit from those fears by spreading misinformation in a manner that they did.
“But like everything that is not based on truth, overtime the truth emerges and people who are victims of disinformation retrace their steps; which is why a senator from Ogun (Mr Tejuoso) has returned to the fold and I am sure more and more, who left out of confusion and who were misled, I am sure will come back,” he said.