The All Progressives Congress has put in place strategies to ensure that the President of the Senate, Bulola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, do not influence the election of presiding officers for the Ninth National Assembly, The PUNCH reports.

Our correspondent gathered that the national leadership of the party and the preferred candidates for the positions of presiding officers had arranged a series of meetings with members-elect to douse apprehension.

It was learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari had held Iftar (dinner for breaking of fasting) with members-elect as part of the plans.

An APC chieftain told our correspondent that the party would work hard to thwart whatever plans Saraki and Dogara had against the emergence of its anointed candidates.

The PUNCH had reported that the APC leadership had endorsed Senators Ahmed Lawan and Ovie Omo-Agege as the next President of the Senate and Deputy Senate President, respectively.

It also reported that Mr Femi Gbajabiamila and Ahmed Wase, had been anointed as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively for the House of Representatives.

But a member of the National Working Committee of the APC said party leaders were aware of counter-moves by Dogara to frustrate the agenda of the ruling party.

He said, “We are aware of clandestine meetings he had been having with some members of the House of Representatives against the wish of the APC.

“We are not surprised because he is no longer our member; but we are watching keenly the activities of our members who had been meeting with him.

“The agenda is for the party and everybody to respect party supremacy.”

Another chieftain of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the party, was also monitoring developments in the Senate as some senators in the opposition PDP had stepped up their game to cause disaffection among the APC members, with Saraki at the background.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the party was not threatened by the influence of Saraki and Dogara.

He said, “I will advise we stop talking about Dr Saraki as far as the Ninth National Assembly is concerned.

“By the time President Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurating the Ninth National Assembly, Saraki would have become a former member. So, he is to us irrelevant to this discussion.

“Dogara would be a floor member and of the opposition party, so he has no role to play in deciding who rules for the majority.”

Saraki and Dogara had emerged in 2015 as President of the Senate and Speaker against the wish of the APC, which they then belonged.

Issa-Onilu, however, expressed confidence that the situation would be different this time.

He said, “What happened in 2015 was a coup against the people of this country. It was a very unpatriotic action. Our President told them (members-elect) that much when they had Iftar (breaking of fasting) with him.

“I can assure you that the party has done enough to ensure that those that ran on our platform are loyal members who share in the vision of the party, who understand that we have a mandate to save this country from the PDP and their nefarious collaborators.

“They also understand that it would be a betrayal of the President, the party, and indeed, majority of electorate to work for those who the people rejected at the polls.”

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