A member of the Unity Forum who has been at loggerheads with the leadership of the Senate, Kabir Marafa, has described Thursday’s reshuffle of the leadership of committees in the upper legislative chamber as a result of efforts the All Progressives Congress has been putting in place to end the crisis in the Senate.

He said the party leadership had, in the last few days been busy reconciling the APC caucus in the Senate.

Marafa spoke with State House correspondents on Friday shortly after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The embattled President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had on Thursday conceded the chairmanship of committees that lawmakers considered “juicy” to some members of the Senate Unity Forum, who, in 2015, opposed his candidacy and supported Senator Ahmed Lawan.

Members of the forum, who got the chairmanship of the “juicy committees”, included Marafa, who became the Chairman of the Petroleum Resources Committee (Downstream) from the National Identity and National Population Committee.

Marafa, who described the reshuffling of committees as a routine exercise, however, said Thursday’s exercise was different because of the circumstances prevailing in the Senate.

He said, “Reshuffling of committees is nothing new in any parliament. Maybe what made that of Thursday a bit new is the circumstances that surrounded the emergence of the present leadership in the Senate and what followed.

“In the last few days, the party has been on top of the situation, trying to reconcile their children. The APC caucus in the Senate has been badly fragmented and the party wants to see an end to that.

“What you see now is a result of the efforts the party has been putting in place in the last few days.”

Marafa said it would be correct to say that peace had returned to the upper chamber as far as the wish of the party is respected.

He said the disagreement he had with Saraki and the leadership was not personal but about party loyalty.

The lawmaker said he and some others decided to toe the line of the party on the choice of Senate leaders because that was the most sensible thing to do.

According to him, if it is now the position of the party that all issues be put to rest, he would abide by such decision.

He said, “Yes peace has returned to the Senate, as long as the party comes in and the wish of the party is respected, there will always be peace.

“I have always been telling people that we are not at loggerheads with anybody. It is not that we hate somebody. The current President of the Senate has remained one of my close friends and seniors in the Senate.

“What you saw happened is what I will describe as loyalty to the party. The constitution of Nigeria recognises political parties, not individuals.

“So when we came in and the party said this is the line we should toe, some of us went that way because that is the most sensible thing to do.

“If the party today says enough of everything and that everything should stop, it will stop immediately. We will always be obedient to our party. I will never abandon the course of my party.”

When asked whether he was ready to withdraw the case he instituted against Saraki and others in court, Marafa said the decision would be made by the party.

Marafa told journalists that the purpose of his visit was to seek Buhari’s blessing on the new responsibility given to him in the Senate since the President is the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

He said with the blessing he had received from Buhari, he could now face the work headlong and he was convinced that he would leave an indelible mark.

On the renewed violence in the Niger Delta, Marafa urged the people of the region to think deeply because the destruction of pipelines was inimical to every Nigerian.

Copyright PUNCH.

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