Presidency woos Saraki, Dogara, govs •As crisis over MTEF, loan lingers

THE Presidency appears set for a change of strategy in the way it has been dealing with stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC), following a consultative meeting held among the stakeholders at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.

Sources close to the meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said the main focus of the meeting was to set templates for selecting nominees into board appointments.

It was gathered that unlike the exclusive manner the Presidency handled issues of appointments in the past, the Villa, this time, called stakeholders to deliberate on the manner by which those to be appointed into the boards would emerge.

It was learnt that Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal and six governors, one each from the geopolitical zones, were called for the meeting.

Saraki had, in the last one week, visited the Presidential Villa twice, a rare occurrence.

In fact, Saraki entered into the record books for being the first Senate president since 1999 who was not welcome into the Presidential Villa in the first four months of his tenure.

Sources had said last week that the presidency was beginning to realise the need to engage the National Assembly positively, following some negative trends emanating from the chambers in recent times.

The senators, in the last two weeks, rejected the planned foreign loan of $30 billion, while the list of ambassadorial nominees escaped being rejected through Saraki’s ruling, as the lawmakers had voted against it in the voice vote.

It was, however, learnt that while the Monday meeting was largely devoted to the issue of board appointments, some governors at the meeting also raised questions over the list of non-career ambassadors currently being considered by the Senate.

The development is coming on the heels of the growing anger in the National Assembly over lack of consultations between the executive and the legislature on critical state matters.

At the end of the meeting, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who almost opened up to speak with waiting journalists, was made to hold back  by his Zamfara counterpart, Abdulazeez Yari, who is also chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

Okorocha quickly waved at newsmen in approval and said “they said I should not talk.”

Outside the office where their cars were parked, the governors were joined by Saraki and Dogara and were crowded by newsmen.

At this time, all of them were complaining about one thing or the other in hushed tones.

As newsmen continued to pester them for comments, Saraki asked Yari to address them, but the governor declined and threw the responsibility back to Saraki, who he asked to speak on the meeting as Senate President.

When Saraki made to enter his car, he stood behind the rear door, paused and said: “I’m sure the VP will issue a statement. But nothing of great alarm. It’s all for good governance, inclusion and collaboration with all arms. The states are here, National Assembly executives just came up with ideas on how to make things work even better, that’s all.”

To a question on whether the meeting was stormy, the Senate president responded: “there is nothing like stormy session, it has do with inclusion, good governance, collaboration and to make things better.”

The meeting was attended exclusively by chieftains of the ruling APC.