By Chukwudi Nweje
With barely four months into the life of the 10th National Assembly, there are all manner of conspiracy theories trailing the leadership of the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio. Despite the huge support he enjoyed among his colleagues to emerge as the head of the Red Chamber, many critical observers are surprised over an alleged veiled discontentment among some senators.
While some reports had claimed that Akpabio’s downfall was being plotted by some senators of northern extraction, there are other conspiracy theories that the matter goes beyond the northern senators alleged to be spearheading the move.
But the development came even as the Senate said the lawmakers are united behind its leadership, describing reports about an impeachment move as ‘’imaginative composition.’’
The leadership of the Senate pleaded to be allowed to settle down for its national assignment.
Those behind the development accused Akpabio of playing the role of a lap dog for President Bola Tinubu rather than serving the overall interest of senators and Nigerians.
They alleged that his closeness to the President has prevented him from paying full attention to his colleagues and working hard for the good of the country.
The controversy that followed a viral video in which he said the Clerk of the National Assembly had credited accounts of senators with a token to enable them enjoy their holidays was also given as one of the reasons for the move to remove him from office.
But fresh details on the agitation against the Senate President emerged at the weekend with the revelation that the disaffection on committee appointments was only diversionary. The real angst of the group of senators is the suspicion of the incapacity of the Senate President to checkmate what some northern senators are calling the Yorubanisation of the country’s financial system and economy.
Besides the alleged perception of Senator Akpabio’s lack of capacity to checkmate the domination of the Yoruba in the financial ecosystem is also his alleged refusal to deal with some powerful interest groups, particularly some petrol importers and the electricity distribution companies on some proposed financial deals bordering on 40 percent electricity tariff hike and payment of outstanding money to fuel importers.
Newspaper publications had last weekend alleged a plot by some senators against Akpabio alleging lopsided distribution of Grade A committees mainly in favour of his supporters and to the discrimination of those who opposed him during the leadership contest.
While it was gathered that the allegation may have some substance, it has, however, emerged that some rivals of the Senate President may have regrouped using as a reason his apparent failure to check the lopsided appointments by the president in favour of the Yoruba, especially in the financial sector.
Among the senators who are alleged to have regrouped with a mission of standing up to Senator Akpabio are some former governors drawn from the North and at least one from the South-South.
The group has now formally come out by presenting Senator Elisha Abbo, APC, Adamawa North as the face of the group.
Senator Abbo in newspaper interviews at the weekend accused Akpabio of marginalising his rivals in the leadership contest and their supporters in the distribution of the committee positions.
However, sources within the Abbo group have now revealed that the angst of the protagonists was far more and go beyond the Senate President.
“The main issue is our fear that Akpabio cannot check this Yorubanisation of the financial system that is going on now,” a source within the group revealed at the weekend.
The source who spoke on the basis of confidentiality alluded to the appointments at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Customs, among others that have recently been infused with Yoruba leadership. The control of the agencies is besides the appointment of Yoruba Ministers in the financial sector and the blue economy.
“Yes, the reason why you can see that Northerners are mostly involved is that most of those being removed and replaced with Yoruba are northerners,” the source further revealed.
It was further gathered that the aim of the senators is to enthrone a senate president the group believes can checkmate President Bola Tinubu.
Besides the appointments, the group is also said to be working on behalf of some interest groups in the economy who believe that they were shortchanged after reaching agreements with the president and Akpabio on the payment of subsidy to the petrol importers.
It was gathered that an arrangement had been reached with the presidency that funds generated from the removal of fuel subsidy would be used to settle petrol importers within the first two months of the removal of subsidy. The fund amounting to N2 trillion has, however, not been so used but rather pushed to palliatives intervention.
Another interest group said to have infiltrated into the ranks of the dissident senators were some Electricity Distribution companies who were said to have also reached an agreement with the presidency and Akpabio for an upward review of 40 percent of tariff. That agreement was, however, discountenanced on the Senate floor by Akpabio.
Just like those being pushed out in the appointments in the financial sector, Northern business interest groups are believed to be more affected by the decision not to pay the petrol importers.
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