Despite Attempts To Instigate Senate Against Its Leadership, 83 Senators Append Their Signatures To Stand Behind Their Embattled President As Speaker Dogara Lauds Reps For Shutting Up
Reprieve came the way of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as 83 senators yesterday passed a vote of confidence on his leadership of the 8th Senate as they returned to work after a six-week recess.
The confidence vote was also extended to Saraki’s deputy, Ike Ekweremadu. As Saraki and Ekweremadu regaled in the confidence boost, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, lauded Saraki for submitting himself to the judicial process as requested by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
He also thanked members for not escalating tension with commentaries that might have negatively affected relationship between both arms of the legislature. Tuesday’s vote of confidence is the second since inauguration of the senate last June that the senate leadership was receiving from members.
It would be recalled that a similar action took place on Tuesday, July 28 when Senator Sam Anyanwu, and 80 other senators, threw their weight behind the Senate leadership. The vote of confidence was backed by senators, who were made up of 48 senators of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 35 senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
This was even as an attempt by Senator Kabiru Marafa from Zamfara State to disrupt proceedings of the plenary was nipped in the bud. The endorsement of the principal officers of the Senate was sequel to a motion moved by Senator David Umaru, under matters of urgent public importance, which was seconded by Senator Ahmed Sani from Zamfara State.
Coming under orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Order 2015, Umaru condemned all sorts of interference from outside the National Assembly and other arms of government on the working of the Senate based on the independence of the legislature. “The legislative arm of government remains the mainstay of democratic governance, liberty, freedom, fair hearing, checks and balances, and above all, the protection of the human rights of the citizenry.
(We are) determined to focus on matters of national interest and importance to the ordinary people of Nigeria and other issues that will enhance their safety, livelihood, social and political wellbeing. “(The Senate is) further determined to continue to perform its constitutional duties and responsibilities in defence of democracy and the rule of law for the betterment and development of our nation, Nigeria.
We note, with dismay, the attempt and continued interference in the internal affairs of the Senate by detractors and media propaganda against senators, the Senate and its leadership by selfish politicians.
“Considering the ongoing unwarranted embarrassment and aspersions being cast on the Senate and its leadership, the Senate shall not allow itself to be distracted, deterred or succumb to cheap blackmail in the course of carrying out its conditional responsibilities by any individual or group of people under any pretence or guise for personal political interest,” Umaru noted.
The Senate, therefore, resolved: “to pass a vote of confidence on Saraki, Ekweremadu, the entire Senate leadership as presently constituted”. At this point, Senator Jide Omoworare from Osun State, whose name appeared on the 11th of the list, claimed that he was not consulted before the list was drawn up, and subsequently asked that his name be struck out from the list.
Thereafter, Marafa, who had been raising up his hand to speak on the floor, was given the opportunity, and he sought to oppose the motion. Marafa particularly sought to take the Senate back to consider the matter that had been passed against its rule by referring to Order 53(5)(8) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 As Amended.
Order 53(5) states that: “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto”; while (8) states that: “No senator shall impute improper motives to any other senator”.
After Marafa had read out Order 53(5), Saraki instructed him to read Order 53(6), which states that: “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion during the current session except upon a substantive motion for rescission”.
When Marafa refused to obey Saraki’s instruction after several appeals, Saraki ruled him out of order. Marafa, who did not take Saraki’s action kindly, promptly started shouting on top of his voice, hurling insults and charging at his colleagues, who tried to oppose him. “I am a senator of the Federal Republic, I must be heard!” he repeatedly shouted.
At continued unruly behaviour of Marafa, Saraki ordered the Sergeant- at-Arms to put off Marafa’s microphone. At that point, Senator Ahmed Lawan, who feared that Saraki would further order the Sergeant-at-Arms to bounce Marafa off the Upper Chamber, left his seat for Marafa’s seat to give him some protection.
Marafa, however, was escorted by some senators out of the Red Chamber. Towards the end of the plenary session, Ekweremadu, who thanked his colleagues for endorsing their leadership, apologized to Nigerians on behalf of Marafa for his unruly behaviour on the floor. “It is high time that that we put behind all the previous issues.
We were elected through different channel of political association, but we are all senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “I want to apologize to Nigerians on behalf of Marafa over his unruly behaviour. There is a provision for suspension of a senator. It was once used on (Senator) Arthur Nzeribe, but I commend the Senate President for his maturity on this.
We must put our differences and disagreements behind us in the interest of Nigeria”, Ekweremadu said. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has commended Senate President, Bukola Saraki for submitting himself to Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) but insisted that there is the need to be cautious with the process.
The Speaker in plenary and in a speech welcoming his colleagues back from a six-week recess also commended them for their maturity in not escalating the situation through commentaries in the media. “The barometer of the polity has been on the rise of late because of certain developments concerning the arraignment of the President of the Senate.
“While commending the President of the Senate for submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in the recognition that no person is above the law, I wish to caution that there is need for great circumspection in times such as this in order to maintain proper focus in pursuit of the common good,” he said.
The Speaker also said that the single treasury account (TSA) initiated by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was commendable.
He said, “The problem of uncontrollable revenue leakages constituted a cause for serious concern to the legislature and public finance management in general. “It is hoped that this new policy will substantially deal with the issue of revenue leakages and accountability.
“However in order to achieve strict compliance with the requirement of Section 80 of the Nigerian Constitution, it is important to restate that extra budgetary expenditure also constitutes revenue leakages”.
– Teddy Nwanunobi and Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja