The All Progressives Congress has said senators will determine whether or not Saraki will retain his position as Senate President.
The party said it remained the party of choice for all genuine democrats as such it would do nothing to undermine a system its members fought so hard to nurture to this level.
The National Vice Chairman of the APC (South South), Hilliard Eta, said this in response to allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party that it was planning to force a change of leadership in the Senate.
He said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Thursday.
Eta said, “We in the APC are progressives; the concept and principle of progressivism is that the ordinary man must be at the epicentre of all policies and actions of our government.
“As a party, we are not all senators; we have senators in the Senate. Saraki was elected as the President of the Senate by senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the senators that will decide whether Saraki remains their president or not.
“But I can say this, there are no factions in the APC, we have one National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, nothing has happened to give any clue to factionalisation in our party and the constitution is very clear as to the grounds upon which defections can occur.
“For us as a party, we will defend the law and the constitution of this country. The PDP I am told would do everything in their power to defend Saraki, we will do everything legitimately to defend the laws of the land and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
We’ll resist attempt to remove Saraki, says Tambuwal
But in spite of this assurance, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said the PDP would resist any illegal attempt to remove Saraki as the Senate President.
He warned the Federal Government to stop framing up members of the opposition, adding that Nigeria was not a banana republic.
Tambuwal, who just defected from the APC to the PDP, said it was unfortunate that the Federal Government had resorted to framing up anyone with a contrary political view.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke at the special National Executive Committee meeting of the PDP, which was held to welcome defectors to the PDP in Abuja on Thursday.
Apart from Tambuwal, among other defectors who were at the meeting were Saraki; the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; a former National Chairman of the PDP, Barnabas Gemade; a former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso; Senator Dino Melaye and a former Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto.
Tambuwal said, “This (frame up) especially on the simple account of disagreement on political leanings is simply unacceptable. And we cannot allow our country to drift further. It is not about anybody, it is not about any interest, this is about the country.
“We must retrieve our nation; we must reposition this country and restructure it for the benefit of Nigerians.
“When they talk about cross-carpeting (defection), I began to wonder. When we cross-carpeted (defected) the other time, did they complain?”
He said that when he heard about alleged plans by some senators to break into the chambers of the Senate to steal the mace and install a pseudo Senate President, he wondered if such people were familiar with the rules guarding democracy.
Tambuwal said, “It is not a gestapo, we are in a democracy and the constitution of this country is very clear that members of the Senate and the House of Representatives can choose from among themselves their own president of the Senate and Speaker.
“It is a conference of members of the two chambers and if the members have confidence in the Senate President, they are free to retain him and so be it with Speaker Yakubu Dogara. We will resist any attempt to illegally remove Senator Saraki.
“Nobody should be afraid and we must respect due process and the rule of law if we are in a democracy.
“Nigeria is not a banana republic and we will not take that from anybody.
“If you try it (to remove Saraki), we will march out our own forces in the country and jam you; we cannot afford to allow anybody, no matter how highly placed, to toy with the fate of more than 200 million Nigerians.”
In his speech, Saraki said that he would not speak much at the meeting, adding that the day to “say many things would come.”
He, however, pleaded with members of the PDP to receive him and his co-defectors with open hearts.
Saraki said that the battle ahead would be fierce, adding that they needed to work together to achieve results in 2019.
He congratulated Ortom and Tambuwal “for the courage you have displayed” and Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who was not at the meeting, for their decisions to return to the party.
He said he offered himself and would play his part, to continue to ensure that “we defend our democratic principles in this country; we provide security and good leadership and good governance for everybody. But that is only possible if we are all united because not any one man or two or three can do it alone.”
In his speech, Ortom said he regretted that he had to leave the PDP for what he called “obvious reasons.”
Ortom said, “I’m happy to be back home, the home I participated in building. Though for obvious reasons, I took part in a journey. In that journey, I had many challenges. I became poor and I lost everything I took to the party. Everything I took to the APC died.”