Former Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki and 10 other Peoples Democratic Party senators, who defected to the All Progressives Congress, twice shunned their scheduled meeting with Senate President David Mark on Monday.
The other senators are Adamu Abdulahi, Shaba Lafiagi, Ibrahim Gobir, Aisha Al-Hassan, Magnus Abe, Wilson Ake, Jibrilla Bindowo, Danjuma Goje, Ali Ndume and Umar Dahiru.
The Senate President had arrived in his office at about 10am, which was the initial time for the meeting and waited till 2.05pm before he left for his residence when it was obvious that the aggrieved senators would not turn up.
Although some of the senators attributed their absence to communication gap, The PUNCH gathered that they deliberately stayed away.
When contacted later in the evening, Saraki and Abe’s aides told one of our correspondents that their bosses were not available in Abuja as of 4pm.
They initially feigned ignorance of the time and venue of the meeting, but later confirmed that it was scheduled for 10am.
One of Mark’s aides, who craved anonymity, also confirmed the 10am meeting, but said it was rescheduled for the residence of his boss on Monday evening.
However ,one of the aggrieved senators, who pleaded anonymity, said they did not deliberately shun the morning meeting with the Senate President.
He said they were not properly briefed about the time and venue of the meeting.
“There is no problem anyway because as politicians , we can meet anytime, even in the dead of the night,” he said.
The senate president and few principal officers, who had gathered at his official residence in the Apo Legislative Quarters, were disappointed again when none of the aggrieved senators came for the evening meeting.
But one of the principal officers said the meeting was called off based on an understanding between Mark and the aggrieved senators to meet on Tuesday.
He said, “You cannot say they shunned the meeting because both parties agreed to study the atmosphere at tomorrow’s (Tuesday) plenary before holding this type of meeting. These are politicians who had made up their minds that they would defect.
“What if they agree to halt their defection here and stand up at tomorrow’s plenary and say another thing. The meeting was shifted till tomorrow (Tuesday) based on mutual understanding between the two parties.”
The principal officer however did not say when and how the understanding was reached.
A senior aide of the senate president, who also did not want his name in print, confirmed that the meeting had been rescheduled for Tuesday evening.
When contacted, one of the aggrieved senators said, “ There is no big deal about reading our letter on the floor (of the Senate) because it is a known fact that we have defected and the decision is irreversible.”
The APC Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, had on Tuesday, last week, said the 11 senators had defected to the party from the PDP.
The senators had collectively written a letter to Mark to notify him of their defection.
But Mark did not read the letter on Wednesday. His deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, who stood in for him on Thursday, also failed to do so despite the insistence of some of the aggrieved senators.
It was gathered on Monday that the defecting senators were insisting that their letter of defection must be read during plenary on Monday(yesterday).
Some of them claimed that the delay tactics being employed by the leadership of the Senate would have no effect on their decision.
According to one of the Senators, what is at stake is a test case for justice and fairness.
He said, “We will insist that our letter be read. This is not the first time people are defecting in the Senate. You will recall that it was on the floor of the Senate that Senator Patrick Osakwe defected from Accord Party to the PDP, nobody raised the issue of faction in the AP.
“The PDP welcomed him with open arms. I wonder why people are making a mountain out of a molehill now.
“Just wait and see what will happen on the floor tomorrow(Tuesday). The Senate has rules and these rules are not superior to the constitution of Nigeria which is the supreme document.”
In Kwara State, Saraki and Govenror Abdulfatah Ahmed on Monday publicly formalised their defection to the APC.
Saraki urged other members of the party in the state to work for the interest of the masses.
He said, “Today(Monday), we have formally become APC members and we are putting PDP to where it belongs. I therefore urge all of you, the members of the interim executive, to carry all along.
“Today(Monday), we cease to be PDP, former Congress for Progressive Change; former Action Congress of Nigeria; former All Nigerian Peoples Party.
“Today(Tuesday), we are in the APC and if you are in the APC, you must be like APC. If you are chairman, you are chairman for everybody. If you are secretary you are for all. If you say you are my followers, you must behave like me.
“There is the need for everybody in his ward to get registered in the exercise which commences tomorrow (today).”