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Senate Cracks Over Sharing Of Principal Offices

Francis Moses writes on the lingering crisis tearing the ruling party apart irrespective of several attempts to settle the rift among its warring legislators

There is yet to be a head way in the crisis tearing the ruling APC apart since the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki of All Progressive Congress (APC) and his Deputy Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), against the APC leadership choice. The series of verbal rifts between the Senators loyal to Senator Ahmed Lawan operating under the aegis, Senators’ Unity Forum and the Like Minds loyal to Saraki mounts by the day.

However the SUF have threatened to disrupt the activities of the red Chambers when the lawmakers resume on 28 of July 2015 plenary if Senate President Saraki fails to reverse the appointment of the principal officers The group has also called on former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Common Wealth Secretary- General, Emeka Anyaoku; Nobel Laurate, Professor Wole Soyinka; former Chairman of the, PDP and a chieftain of the APC, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Ex- governor of Kaduna State, Col. Dangiwa Umar; and Femi Falana, SAN to as a matter of urgency intervene in the Senate unfolding imbrioglio before the nation’s parliament would be in crisis.

The senators who also threatened to cause a stalemate in the chamber on resumption if the Senate President Saraki did not address the issue of alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order 2015, said, “Can we continue to operate the highest legislative chamber of the land using forged standing order and violating the provisions of even the forged one?

When did Nigeria descend this low?” The senators, in a statement issued in Abuja by their spokesperson, Senator Kabir Marafa, representing Zamfara Central stressed that the ranking rule was being violated in the appointment of presiding officers despite the fact that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress had properly guided the presiding officers by nominating ranking senators for the leadership positions.

However SUF lamented that Saraki allegedly disregarded the party’s directive by inaugurating fresh senators as principal officers, just as they vowed any attempt to impose former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio as Minority leader above other ranking Senators, adding that Senators Eyinnaya Abaribe, James Manager, George Sekibo, Emmanuel Paulker, Solomon Bwacha, Sonni Ogbuoji, Andy Uba, Uche Ekwinife, and Owan Enoh, among others, should not be in chamber while a fresher like Akpabio should become their leader.

The group also said, “They violated rule 3 (2) to appoint both Senators Ali Ndume and Bala Ibn Na’Allah as leader and deputy leader of the senate and now we hear another alleged absurdity that Senator Godswill Akpabio may emerge senate minority leader.” Alleging that Akpabio was being favoured high above his seniors in the chamber contrary to the provisions of order 3 (2), the group said, “I swear to God, we will not allow this impunity   to stand and a fresh one to be added. By the way won’t somebody ask him, who constituted these caucuses they are talking about?

“Who is the chairman or leader of North West caucus for example? Who is the secretary? If there is, who appointed or elected them, where and using which law? “We all know how the leadership of the political parties and how they emerge. We know the supremacy of the political party (section 65 -2b) of the constitution. Let somebody tell us the supremacy of any caucus and where it’s hinged. “May be they want stalemate in the 8th senate looking at how they are running the place. They better shut it permanently than to reconvene and attempt to run it without respecting the rules.

“We will force you on resumption to read order 1 and proceed by its provision. Unless if you want reduce the red chamber into a jungle where everybody will do what he or she like to do and nobody can call anybody to order”. “Sir, (Senate President) you are the custodian and greatest beneficiary of the content of that red book, if you choose to violate it, we would help you to bring yourself down.” Meanwhile some party leaders with some of the senators have held series of meetings separately in attendance, but no resolution was reached. His words “Look at what they did on another order. They went and said that   the composition of chairmanship of committees must reflect regional balance.

Who did that? “That is criminal as far as we are concerned. Unless all these things are investigated properly, we cannot function properly as a Senate. “This is not personal. It is the case of forgery, so who do you reconcile with? Saraki and Ekweremadu are not my enemies. In fact, Ekweremadu took me as a brother when I came to the Senate. But this is about Nigeria and not my interest.

We cannot allow this to continue. Every Nigerian has a duty to check this thing so that it won’t become the practice all over the country”. Desire of reconciliation between the different factions in the 8th Senate caucus of the (APC) over the leadership crisis in the chamber went soar over the weekend. Spokesperson of the Senate Unity Forum loyal to Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Senator Marafa asked Senate President, Dr Saraki to reverse the appointment of Senate Leader Ali Ndume and his deputy, Bala Ibn Na’Allah. Shortly before going on recess last month, the Senate President announced the appointment of Ndume and Na’Allah as the choice of the Northeast and Northwest caucuses for the positions respectively.

But the Senate Unity Forum has kicked against the appointments, insisting that Ndume and Na’Allah’s appointments violated Rule 3 (2) of the Senate Standing Order which clearly stipulates ranking in the chamber. The Forum reiterated that both men are not qualified to hold office by effect of the ranking rule and also insisted that the rules used to inaugurate the Eighth Senate were forged. The Unity Forum equally queried why the Senate President read names sent to him by the caucuses and ignored that sent to him by the APC.

“We all know political parties, their leadership and how the leadership emerged, we know the supremacy of the political party as enshrined in section 65 (2) (b). We want to know where the supremacy of any caucus is enshrined”, he further queried. Marafa urged the Senate President to abide by Order One of the Senate Standing Orders and threatened that, upon resumption of plenary on July 28; he may be compelled to abide by that order.

Marafa contended that all the Unity Forum wants the Senate President to do is to obey the rules and the party. Senate is expected to resume in plenary on July 28. However the (PDP) has alleged that the ruling (APC) is plotting to rubbish the leadership of the Senate. Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP Mr. Metuh said that the APC was after the president of the Senate, Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, as the ruling party was not comfortable with their leadership of the Upper House. Commenting on the Standing Order amendment scandal rocking the Senate, the spokesperson said: His words “Our position is that there is no scandal; there is no forgery; there is nothing.

It is trumped-up, cooked-up charge just to rubbish the leadership of the Senate. “The fact that we have the deputy president of the Senate and the fact that the president of the Senate is not the candidate of the APC, they want to rubbish the leadership of the Senate. “For us in the PDP, we believe there is a limit to lawlessness. There is no way the government, as presently constituted, can make witch-hunt as a policy, as a policy thrust. In two months, we have not seen anything; we have not seen the direction of the government, its programmes and policy direction.

The only thing they are reeling out is witch-hunts.” According to Metuh, the activity of the APC had shown that the party planned to break the country. Metuh further stressed that senators should be allowed to enjoy their ‘legislative immunity’ and police should stop interfering with the Senate’s procedures. “The moment the police starts getting involved in the rules and procedures of the Senate, it means the legislature has lost its independence. “We understand that they want to arrest the Senate president and the Deputy Senate President. We are daring them to try it. If they want to end democracy, they should say it. We also warn them that Nigeria will continue to remain one. Meanwhile earlier this month the opposition PDP accused the ruling APC and police of working together to destabilise PDP-controlled states, especially Rivers.

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