Attempt by Senators elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to begin the process of nullification of the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was swiftly nipped in the bud during Senate Plenary of Wednesday by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Senator Kabiru Marafa, one of the leading supporters of Lawan had raised a point of order where he observed that the election of Ekweremadu was in breach of the Senate standing rules during the Wednesday plenary.
The Senator noted that Senate rules, as passed in 2011 indicated that an election into any of the presiding offices in the red chamber shall be by division whereby Senators supporting one cndidate will be on one side, while those supporting another candidate will be on the other side, and not by secret ballot when two contestants are vying for any of the positions.
Contrary to this provision, the Senator said the election that brought Ekweremadu into office was done through secret ballot.
The Senator therefore asked Saraki to explain when the rules were amended. But the Senate President swiftly ruled him out of order, citing the Senate rules that if a matter on presiding officer’s election has been decided, there can be no further inquiry into it.
Ekweremadu, though elected on the platform minority PDP had taken advantage of the absence of members of majority APC to emerge the Deputy Senate President when the 8th National Assembly was inaugurated on 9 June.
Ekweremadu defeated Senator Ali Ndume of APC to emerge the Deputy Senate President. Most APC Senators were at the International Conference Centre to attend a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari when they heard that the election of the principal officers of the Senate had taken place.
It was believed that the Senate President had ceded the position of the Deputy Senate President to get the support of the PDP members of the Senate when his party refused to support his bid to lead the upper chamber.
The APC had preferred Senators Ahmed Lawan and George Akume for the position of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.
John Oyegun, the National Chairman of APC had said over the weekend that the resignation of Ekweremadu will help the party tackle the crisis it has fallen into as a result of the disobedience of Saraki.
Crisis has been simmering within the ruling APC and in the National Assembly since 9 June after the controversial National Assembly elections. Attempts to resolve the crisis have so far not yielded any positive result.
Meanwhile, Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC-Katsina South), wants the All Progressives Congress, APC, to punish anybody who decides to go against the directives of the party on the appointment of principal officers.
Ibrahim was reacting to a zoning formula drafted by senators who belong to the ‘Like Minds’, a group that’s loyal to Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The group came up with a zoning formula that gave the position of Majority Leader to the North-East; Deputy Majority Leader to North-West and the Chief Whip to South-West but senators who belong to the “Unity Forum”, loyal to Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC-Yobe North), insisted that all vacant positions be filled by the national leadership of the party.
Ibrahim maintained that the senators had no power to zone the leadership positions to any region. He pointed out that the procedure for allocating the offices had been the exclusive right of the ruling party, adding that, it should be maintained.
“As far as I am concerned, this was never done, I was a principal officer in the last senate, the party gave our names and that’s how I became a principal officer,” he said.
He, therefore, called on the APC to “wield its big stick” if anybody decided to go against the directives of the party this time around.
Similarly, northern House of Representatives members have reportedly backtracked on their decision to support some members approved by their party.
The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun wrote Saraki and Speaker of the House of Reps, indicating approved principal officers.
“Please find below for your necessary action names of principal officers approved by the party, after extensive consultations for the 8th Senate as follows: Senator Ahmed Lawan (Majority Leader)–North-East; Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Chief Whip)–South-West; Sen. George Akume (Deputy Majority Leader)—North-Central; and Sen. Abu Ibrahim (Deputy Chief Whip)—North-West,” the letter to Saraki from Oyegun read.
To Dogara he wrote: “Please find below for your necessary action names of principal officers approved by the party after extensive consultations for the eighth House of Representatives as follows: Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (House Leader) South-West; Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (Deputy House Leader)—North-West; Hon. M. T. Monguno(Chief Whip)—North-East; and Hon. Pally Iriase (Deputy Chief Whip)—South-South. This comes with the assurances of my highest regards.”