The Sun News

…Senators move against Akpabio

• No rift in our camp, caucus spokesman

From Fred Itua, Abuja

All is not well within the rank of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate, as aggrieved Senators who are uncomfortable with the leadership style of Godswill Akpabio, who heads the group, are calling for his resignation.
But the spokesman of the caucus, Enyinnaya Abaribe  denied the claims.
Daily Sun learnt that Peter Nwaoboshi from Delta State, who heads the Niger Delta committee, is leading the offensive against Akpabio. Nwaoboshi, it was gathered, is angry over what he described as the refusal of the caucus to intervene in his running battle with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Nwaoboshi, who Daily Sun gathered could not secure the backing of the majority of his colleagues in the PDP, boycotted Tuesday’s meeting of the caucus, held at the private residence of Akpabio in Asokoro, Abuja.
Two other lawmakers- from the South-South and South-East- in solidarity with Nwaoboshi, also boycotted the meeting of the caucus.
Other lawmakers did not outrightly call for the replacement of Akpabio as Minority Leader of the Senate, but they criticised his style of leadership which they said was tepid and called on him to defend the caucus and its members in the face of attacks from agencies of the Federal Government.
At the end of the meeting, Akpabio reportedly denied claims that he was romancing with some leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), at the detriment of the PDP caucus.
A lawmaker told Daily Sun in confidence that Akpabio has promised to speak more forcefully in favour of the PDP caucus and be the voice of opposition.
The crack in the PDP is coming amidst claims that the Senate Minority Whip, Philip Aduda is concluding plans to defect to the APC.
On June 9, 2015, when the Eight Senate was inaugurated, the APC had 59 Senators, while the opposition PDP had 49. As of today, APC has 65 members, while PDP has 42. It has lost four members through defections.
Mid September, 2016, Joshua Dariye dumped the PDP under which he served as governor of Plateau State for eight years for the ruling APC. In nine years, Dariye has moved from the PDP to the Labour Party (LP) and back to the PDP.
On November 30, 2016, Yele Omogunwa dumped the PDP for the APC. He cited the crisis and the need to work for the election bid of Rotimi Akeredolu who is now the governor of Ondo State as reason for his action.
His defection caused an uproar in the Senate and PDP lawmakers who were angered by the move, staged a walkout in protest.
Also in January, 2017, Nelson Effiong from Akwa Ibom State defected to the APC. Effiong was the first Senator from the South-South and the South-East to dump the PDP.
Andy Uba from Anambra State is the latest. He defected on February 21.
According to Uba, APC has ideology and focus which he said he needed to tap into, to provide quality representation to his constituents.  Meanwhile, the PDP caucus, has denied any crack in its fold.
A statement in Abuja by its spokesman, Abaribe, said contrary to such rumours the PDP caucus was united as ever. He added that PDP has resolved  never to shy away from carrying out the constitutionally guaranteed role as a coordinated and responsible opposition on the floor of the Senate.
Nonetheless, the caucus according to Abaribe, has also pledged to work harmoniously with the leadership of the Senate in the interest of Nigerians and anf to deepen democracy.
“The PDP Senate Caucus is united and have resolved to continue to speak with one voice more than ever before. I can assure you that there is no cracks in our fold, we have rather solidified our base with the aim of offerring the desired opposition in the interest of our people.
“That notwithstanding, the caucus will work harmoniously with leadership of the Senate for the enthronment of good governance and the preservation of the sanctity of the Senate as an institution,”Abaribe said.

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