From Fred Itua, Abuja
BARELY twenty four hours after the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, openly declared that the party will not mind if a member of another political party takes over from Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, if he leaves office based on the asset declaration trial, there are indications that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may field Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu as a likely replacement if there is vacancy.
Daily Sun gathered that some members of the opposition party are thinking in that directon following the body language of the Unity Forum and the Like Minds camps in the Senate.
Members of both camps, who spoke with our correspondent yesterday evening, revealed that they are considering Ekweremadu as a possible replacement for the Senate president, based on his experience and the fact that he has been Saraki’s deputy since last June.
A senator from the South-East who is a member of the kitchen cabinet of the Senate president, told our correspondent that members of Like Minds group, who are predominantly PDP, were already mooting the idea of Ekweremadu succeeding Saraki. He said since it was becoming glaring that Saraki was losing support, both from the party and the Senate, it was time to shop for a senator who will carry everyone along as his possible replacement.
He said though the idea of Ekweremadu succeeding Saraki has not formally been discussed in their regular meetings held at the Maitama residence of Saraki, lawmakers were already throwing their weight behind the Deputy Senate President.
The source said: “We hold meetings everyday and we strategise on the way forward. But many of us were shocked when we read yesterday (Saturday) that the APC was willing to concede the Senate presidency seat to us (PDP). We did not expect it to end like this.
“We have always stood by Saraki and we will stand by him till the end. But we also need to start putting the interest of our party (PDP) first. We have started talking to ourselves and we have started mounting pressure on Ekweremadu to gear up and be prepared to succeed Saraki. He has been the Deputy Senate President for three times now. PDP will take over and Ekweremadu may just be the man.”
In a dramatic twist, the Unity Forum has promised to work with Ekweremadu in the event that he emerges as Senate President. A prominent figure of the forum from the North-West who had a telephone chat with our correspondent yesterday, aligned with the position of the APC national chairman.
He said the forum was ready to work with Ekweremadu if he emerges as Senate President. He argued that it was safer to have an opposition member as Senate President than Saraki, who he said has repeatedly defied the party, APC.
He said: “If Ekweremadu emerges through a democratic means, we will support him. We cannot have our own who is fighting us. We will rather support a stranger that we know than someone who is fighting us from within. We will soon meet and take a position on the next line of action.”
Saraki’s trial is expected to continue today at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), having failed to get a fresh reprieve from the Federal High Court in Abuja which ruled last Friday that the Senate President should face trial.