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Monday, 24 August 2015

Fowler: Pro-Saraki senators ready for Tinubu As ex-gov's loyalists reach out


Taiwo Adisa -Abuja
THE camps of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and that of former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, appear to be playing a cat and mouse game, following the appointment of a former chairman, Lagos State Board of Internally Generated Revenue, Dr William Babatunde Fowler, as the acting Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Fowler is to assume duty in acting capacity, pending the confirmation of his appointment by the Senate.

Fowler was appointed Chairman, Lagos State Inland Revenue Service in 2005 by then Governor Tinubu, a position he held till 2013.

It is believed that his achievements as head of the Lagos State tax office, coupled with his closeness to Senator Tinubu, got him the nomination for the FIRS job.

However, the camps of two notable leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appeared at loggerheads over Senate’s screening and confirmation of the former Lagos taxman.

Fowler is regarded as Tinubu’s man, which is making some loyalists of the ex-governor to reach out, in view of the fear that some senators were aware that Tinubu would need the Senate under Saraki to confirm their associates.

A senator said media reports in recent times, which portray Saraki as kowtowing to Tinubu, had not helped matters, as, according to them, the APC leader needed Saraki more at this time.

“Rather than Saraki eating the humble pie to plead with Tinubu and others, it is the other way round, but the media has portrayed things otherwise,” a senator in the know had said.

Those loyal to the Tinubu’s camp are, however, said to be mindful of the powers of the Senate over nominees of the president, especially going by the rejection of the last nominee to the office under President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs Mfon Akpan from Akwa Ibom State.

The nominee was blocked from being confirmed by senators of the Seventh Assembly.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that some politicians may fuel the anti-Fowler war because they see the office of the FIRS chairman as strategic, which should not be zoned to any politician.

Also, Nigerian Tribune gathered that, “the Like-Mind Senators are particularly irked that while Tinubu is the one who needs them for the successful confirmation of his allies, who would be named by the president, things are being portrayed as if it is the Senate that needs him.”

Another senator said many pro-Saraki senators, especially those that appended their signature to the vote of confidence for Saraki, were insisting on a payback time for Tinubu’s men.

The Tinubu loyalists, looking for ways to ease the path of Fowler during screening, had realised that they actually needed the Senate President’s support.

“They can’t afford to fight him now,” a senator told the Nigerian Tribune.

“There will be a lot of trade-off as we get to the period of ministerial nomination and confirmation hearings. What we do not like is this idea of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Those who need us for their own interest, different from the interest of President Buhari, are now making it look like we need them,” one of the pro-Saraki senators said.

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