Ekweremadu Presides, As Lawan’s Supporters Shun Senate Plenary | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ekweremadu Presides, As Lawan’s Supporters Shun Senate Plenary

Posted: Nov 12, 2015 at 9:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The crisis in the Senate over the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Senate president and deputy president respectively worsened yesterday as some All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers boycotted plenary to protest the presiding of the session by Ekweremadu.

Ekweremadu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator, was elected deputy Senate president during the inaugural sitting of the Senate in June to the chagrin of APC and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Yesterday was the first time Ekweremadu would preside over plenary since his election as Senate deputy president on June 9, 2015, as Saraki was at the State House to witness the inauguration of ministers.

The APC senators, who are members of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF) that opposed the Saraki presidency and supported his rival, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said they would not subject themselves to the leadership of Ekweremadu whenever Saraki was not around.

On sighting that Ekweremadu was the presiding officer yesterday, the SUF senators walked out of the chambers while others who were about to enter turned back. Some of the senators who walked out on sighting that it was Ekweremadu that was presiding included Lawan, Oluremi Tinubu, Kabir Marafa and George Akume.

Saraki took over from Ekweremadu midway into plenary. The Secretary to the SUF, Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North), in a statement, decried Ekweremadu’s presiding over plenary in a legislature dominated by the APC. It said the conspiracy against the ruling party in the Senate had been executed.

Describing the situation as a sad development, the APC senators called on party members and leaders to denounce the act. In the hand-written statement circulated to reporters and entitled, “The conspiracy against the APC finally consummated,” Hunkuyi said they would, henceforth, cease from attending any sitting presided over by the PDP.

The statement read: “We notice with joy, the inauguration of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) by Mr. President and Commander- in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, today, the 11th of November, 2015.

“In equal stance, we notice with grave sadness, the handover of the hallowed chamber of the Senate today to the opposition party, the PDP, by the Senate President to Ike Ekweremadu as PDP helmsman to preside over the majority membership of the APC-led chamber.

“It is a very sad development that must be denounced by all wellmeaning APC members and leaders alike. “With this, to show our protest as APC senators of the 8th Senate, we wish to announce that we shall cease to attend any sitting presided over by the PDP in an APC majority chamber of the 8th Senate.”

But in a swift reaction to Hunkuyi’s statement, Senate spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said there was no division in the Senate. He stressed that the nation had many challenging problems, which senators should help to tackle rather than engaging in egoistic political imbroglio. Abdullahi urged Nigerians to disregard any purported conspiracy in the Senate and support it in its agenda to actualise the change agenda of the APC.

He said: “The Senate wishes to state categorically that there is no conspiracy of any nature among distinguished senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The consummation of a conspiracy is in the figment of the imagination of those behind the news release and should be disregarded by Nigerians.

“The Senate wishes to reiterate its total commitment to providing robust legislative actions to support the change agenda of Mr. President as he strives to move Nigeria to new heights.

The bi-partisan stance of the Senate has not and will not be an impediment. “The distinguished senators are happy with the inauguration of the Federal Executive Council and look forward to having harmonious, rancour-free, but inclusive and participatory relationship that has at its heart the welfare of Nigerians.

“Finally, as we await the unveiling of the policy directions of Mr. President through the members of his executive council, the Senate is, indeed, poised to work harder and better to support the emergence of a changed Nigeria of our collective dream.”