Politics Of Juicy Appointments In Senate | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Politics Of Juicy Appointments In Senate

Posted: Jul 27, 2016 at 3:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)





Few days after the much publicised altercation between Senator Oluremi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central Senatorial District of Lagos, and Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District, during a closed-door session, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki unexpectedly reshuffled the committees of the Red Chamber on July 21, 2016.

Among those who bagged new appointments was Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, wife of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). She bagged the chairmanship of the Committee on Environmental Matters. Prior to the appointment, she was the Chairman, Committee on Women Affairs.



It was also reported that during the verbal attacks between the duo, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, just sat there, watching and nodding his head without saying a word or coming to Mrs. Tinubu’s rescue or protection as is the tradition during such hot arguments in the Chamber. In fact, Mrs Tinubu stressed this in her petition against Melaye, which she forwarded to the Acting Inspector General of Police.

Other senators who were affected by the reshuffle include Saraki’s most outspoken critic, Senator Kabiru Marafa, representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District, who was appointed Chairman of Downstream Petroleum; Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, now Chairman, Senate Committee on National Identity; Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, and Senator Adamu Aliero, Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, among others.

Some of the senators, who were not happy with the new appointments, complain that most of the juicy committees were given to the members of the Unity Forum. While inaugurating the committees, Saraki said that the committee members were selected based on competence. He expressed confidence in the lawmakers, stating that he was sure that they were up to the task. He also urged the chairmen and vice chairmen not to run a one-man show, but should let the inputs of the committee members show in their work. With this new reshuffle, the Senate now has a total of 39 committees out of 65 standing committees.

However, observers believe that Saraki indeed, reshuffled the Senate Committees as part of efforts to ensure peaceful resolution of the long standing crisis among the APC members in the Red Chamber. Mrs Tinubu is a key member of the Unity Forum, which had before now, being anti-Saraki. The group had consistently mounted serious opposition against the Senate leadership since the inauguration of the Eighth Senate. Thus, their appointment into the committees, which senators regard as ‘juicy’, is being seen as a reward or compensation by Saraki to calm frayed nerves which arose following the controversial emergence of the Senate leadership at the early days of the current senate.

It would be recalled that as the senators were preparing for their inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC senators were called for a meeting with the President at the International Conference Centre (ICC) to resolve the issue of the leadership of the National Assembly. While some of the senators were waiting for the meeting to hold, others who were backing Saraki stayed put in the chambers and in the absence of the others, they elected Saraki, through the obvious support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members. In the absence of majority of the APC senators, the PDP senators in turn, saw to the emergence of one of them, Ike Ekweremadu, as the Deputy Speaker, a position, which by tradition, should have gone to the ruling party (APC).

The development led to leadership crisis at the Senate. Few days later, the Senate President was accused of making false declarations in his Asset Declaration form at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). This led to his on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Also, another allegation of forgery was levelled against Saraki and Ekweremadu. They were accused of conniving with the Clerk of the Senate to alter the Senate Standing Rules to ensure their emergence as the Senate Leadership. This is now a subject of litigation as both top Senate Leaders, the Number Three Citizen and his deputy, are now facing trials at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

With the appointment of Mrs Tinubu into this ‘juicy’ position, there is as a strong indication that the rift between Saraki and the APC leader, Bola Tinubu, and by extension, the party’s leadership, has been settled. While Tinubu had not spoken much about the rift, although he had insisted that the party’s position on the emergence of the National Assembly leadership should have been respected, Saraki had consistently accused Tinubu of working against him, not only because of his Senate position, but because he (Saraki) had opposed Tinubu’s emergence as President Buhari’s Deputy as he did not support the Muslim-Muslim ticket for Nigeria. Since then, both had avoided each other in public.

But, Tinubu and Saraki’s cold war reportedly ended recently after President Buhari hosted federal lawmakers to a luncheon at the Presidential Villa. The two APC chieftains finally met at the event. The meeting was believed to have been facilitated by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the party’s National Chairman, John Oyegun-Odigie. Saraki and Tinubu, during the meeting, reportedly agreed to sheathe their swords and work for the progress of the APC, especially if the party will remain a united platform to face the challenges of the 2019 general elections and prevent possible defection of the Senate President and his supporters to PDP or any other platform to the detriment of the ruling party.

The meeting also followed an alleged resolution of the rift between Senator Oluremi Tinubu and Dino Melaye. Senator Ben Bruce, the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, who broke the news of the fence-mending between the two warring senators, said that Saraki was handling the matter, which observers see as part of his (Saraki’s) move to mend fence with the APC National Leadership.


Now that Asiwaju Tinubu and the APC National Leadership seem to have forgiven Saraki, especially after his appointment of Oluremi Tinubu to the ‘juicy’ committee chairmanship position, observers are wondering what will become of the cases involving the Senate President at both the CCT and the Federal High Court. Again, observers are also wondering what will become of Ike Ekweremadu, whether he will continue to occupy the position of Deputy Senate President or if he will be removed or impeached to give way to an APC Senator. Faced with possible removal, observers are still wondering if Ekweremadu will bow to pressure and resign honourably, an option which is not popular among Nigerian politicians.

Since the APC leadership has been insisting on party supremacy and has stoutly opposed the occupation of the position of Deputy Senate President by Ekweremadu, a PDP senator, observers wonder if with the new rapprochement between Saraki and the APC leaders in general and Tinubu and Oyegun in particular, Saraki will not dump Ekweremadu at last in favour of party supremacy. Only time will tell.