Effort by the All Progressives Congress to broker peace between the executive and the legislature over their disagreement on the sacking of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has ended in a stalemate, The PUNCH has learnt.
The latest in the series of meetings, which began last week, was held at the Presidential Villa late on Sunday.
It was gathered that the party leadership, at the end of the latest meeting, could not convince the executive and the Senate to change their positions on Magu.
Osinbajo had, in an interview in April, ruled out the possibility of Buhari replacing Magu, whose nomination was rejected by the Senate twice.
He had argued that the confirmation of the Senate was not necessary for Magu to function as head of the EFCC.
The acting President’s statement drew the ire of senators, who, on Tuesday last week decided to withhold all requests for confirmation from the Presidency.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Monday that the party leaders had met with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President Bukola Saraki separately over the disagreement on Magu’s confirmation.
A top member of the party, who confided in our correspondent on Thursday, said a solution had not been found to the face-off.
The source, who attended the meeting, stated, “We are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Consultations and discussions are still ongoing. We were not consulted at the beginning and this thing was allowed to degenerate to this level.
“What we are doing is damage control. We had to intervene instead of waiting to be left with offering explanations for something we know nothing about.”
The source added that the Acting President and his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently away in the United Kingdom on medical vacation, were on the same page on the issue of Magu.
He said, “The matter is still on. What is happening is that the Acting President, who is fiercely loyal to his boss, does not want to do anything to betray that trust. The last time he spoke to the boss, the boss wanted Magu and as a lawyer, he does everything to protect his client that is his attitude.”
The source explained that the senators argued that once Magu was disqualified by the Senate, he was not qualified to act as the EFCC chairman.
“They are insisting that in the real sense, not only the EFCC chairman, any public officer that is subject to Senate confirmation, what disqualifies his confirmation by the Senate automatically disqualifies him from acting in that capacity,” the source said.
According to him, the Senators also argued that the executive had so far failed to lobby the legislature as it is done in all civilised democracies across the globe.
The source stated, “In any democracy in the world, lobbying is allowed. You lobby the legislature, you lobby members of parliament.
“In this case, the Department of State Services was supposed to have sent its security report to the President, but it didn’t do that; it sent it directly to the Senate. This never happens anywhere.”
The source recalled that a similar scenario played out during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo era.
He explained that the then President sent a nominee from one of the northern states for confirmation but the then DG SSS, (Col. Kayode Are (retd.), sent an unsolicited damning security report to the then Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani.
Obasanjo was said to be unaware of the report.
The then Senate subsequently decided to ignore the security report and went ahead to confirm the nominee.
The source recalled that senators at that time argued that the report ought to have been sent to the President to decide whether or not to go ahead with the nomination.
According to him, since the issue of nomination is the prerogative of the President, he ought to have been the one to decide whether or not to attach the report to his letter nominating anyone for confirmation.
He said that it was considered an act capable of undermining the President’s authority for the SSS, at the time, to forward such a report directly to the Senate behind the Commander-In-Chief.
The Senate, under David Mark, also ignored a so-called security report on Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.) and the late Mr. Polycap Nwite to confirm them as ambassadors.
The source added, “In Magu’s case, the President (Buhari) was embarrassed that there was such a report from the DSS which was sent to the Senate without his knowledge but he did nothing.
“The Senate is now capitalizing on this. Now the bigger problem we are having is that every corrupt and potentially corrupt person in this country wants Magu out. What do we do?
“Who is more powerful? Is it the Presidency of the corrupt cabal? The corrupt cabal is more powerful because the corrupt cabal is using the Senate to shut down government. That brings us to a point where we can now say, is it worth all the trouble?
“That is the dilemma. We are talking, but we want the Acting President to get in touch with his principal to see if he can find an alternative.
“If this happens, we are faced with another perception problem; it means corruption is winning. For us to be seen as a government that bows to corruption will not be good for this nation.
When contacted, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said, “A lot of work is going on that is what one can say now. A lot of people are doing a lot of good work to cool down the polity. It is not what we want to trumpet yet but I can assure you the results will soon be evident.”
Also, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, while expressing a personal opinion in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, explained that the issues at stake provided an opportunity for judiciary to help deepen democracy.
“For me, I would like to look at the positive side and the positive side is that the more of this type of situation we have, the more the opportunity we have to test our constitution,” Abdullahi stated