Members of the Senate Unity Forum have asked the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to honourably resign his position and name a credible senator among his loyalists as his successor in case he is found guilty and convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Saraki is currently facing trial at the CCT over allegations of false, anticipated and outright non-declaration of assets while he was Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
It was learnt that while his loyalists in both the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in the Senate believed that Saraki was being persecuted by his political enemies within his party, SUF members have maintained that Saraki should resign if he is found guilty of corruption at the trial.
However, many of Saraki’s supporters in the senate had vowed to ‘swim and drown’ with Saraki, saying they would resist any attempt by their opponents to move for his impeachment.
But some of the anti – Saraki senators, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, ruled out any form of impeachment against Saraki.
They said their request to the senate president was to honourably resign his position and anoint a successor in order to save the image of the Senate as an institution.
Spokesperson for the Senate Unity Forum, a group of the anti – Saraki senators, Kabir Marafa, said Saraki should be the one to determine whether to resign or not.
Marafa, who stated that his opinion was personal, said, “Since the Senate President has chosen not to resign, he is free to continue in office provided he could bear the moral burden.”
As of Friday, it was not certain that the senators were mounting any pressure on Saraki to resign as some of them maintained that the senate president remained innocent until proven otherwise by the CCT.
A South West Senator, who is a strong member of the SUF, said there was no point pressurising the senate president to resign since the tribunal had yet to pronounce him guilty.
He said, “Initially, our intention was to mount aggressive pressure on him to go in order to save his face and the image of the Senate, but his supporters, who are obviously more than we are in number, had consistently kick against it.
“We understand their predicament; we know it is because most of them, being first time senators, are not qualified to hold the chairmanship of committees that Saraki graciously gave to them.
“At the moment, both the pro and anti – Saraki senators within the APC, are working together and are becoming united in order to counter the moves by the opposition PDP senators from producing Saraki’s successor.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, created a scene last week when he told journalists that the PDP would produce the next senate president, should Saraki be forced to vacate the office.
He had said, “The PDP is ready to replicate the current system in the United States of America, where the Republican Party is in charge of the parliament, while the Democrats are in control of the executive.
“Well, I wish the APC the best of luck if it is making that wild goose chase. If, but God forbid, because we don’t see it coming, by chance Saraki is removed; I can tell you that the PDP will produce the next Senate President.
“We only need three and we have it. The calculation is very clear to me. The calculation is very clear for the PDP. We know what it will take us. If anybody is thinking that a PDP man is going to vote against a PDP candidate, he is telling you a lie.
“We have people and we know how to get the people from the APC. We will win and that will be very interesting. What is happening in America is going to happen in Nigeria. America has a Republican Senate but the executive is led by Democrats. So, it’s happening in different parts of the world. I can tell you with what’s on the ground that we will produce the next Senate President.”
But an APC member, who is also a pro-Saraki senator, Isa Misau, immediately countered the claims by Nwaoboshi by vowing that members of the majority party in the upper chamber would do everything possible to resist the emergence of a PDP senator as senate president.
He had said, “What distinguished Senator Peter Nwaoboshi said will not happen because the APC caucus of the Senate will, under no circumstances, allow Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki to be removed.
“But I understand the larger implication of what Nwaoboshi is saying because our majority in the Senate is very slim, which means we need to be careful and that is why we need to find a political solution to this crisis and this trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.”
Also, the APC senator representing Kwara South Senatorial District, Rafiu Ibrahim, told journalists that his colleagues had reiterated their earlier stance that Saraki’s trial was a ‘mere persecution’ and an attempt to tarnish his image.
Ibrahim said, “We have since discovered that the trial of the Senate President is a mere attempt to blackmail him and make him look bad in the court of public opinion. No more, no less.
“A dispassionate analysis of the proceeding of the CCT yesterday (Tuesday), has pointed to the fact that the APC-led Executive is still embittered against Saraki over the manner of his election as the Senate President.
“This is why we are standing for the Senate President and we will so do till the very end. We are doing this not for him but for the institution of the Senate that he eminently represents. We will never allow any arm of government to rubbish the cherished autonomy of the Senate.
”The calls in some quarters that the Senate President should resign from his position, are borne out of ignorance and pure hatred. The senators described the calls as ‘wicked and unfounded.’
“For those calling for the impeachment of the Senate President, we urge them to avail themselves of the provisions of the law relating to such a sensitive step.
“As far as we are concerned, there is nothing like that on the table, and if anybody is trying to import that from the outside of the Senate, God helps them. All I know is that they will have to produce as many as 100 senators to achieve that aim.
“As long as they don’t have the majority, the call is a tall dream that will remain a figment of the imagination of the groups and their sponsors.”