Ten weeks after the National Assembly embarked on its annual break, the two legislative chamber, yesterday, reconvened. But contrary to expectations that the maiden session will be rowdy, there was calm throughout the 45-minute and 16-minute sessions in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively.
This is contrary to threats issued by the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers, who, during the recess which began on July 24, vowed to sack the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara as soon as the Chambers resumed.
Specifically, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, on Sunday, said Saraki will be removed.
Abdullahi Adamu, Ovie Omo-Agege and other APC senators, had been leading the campaign to effect leadership change in the senate.
Ironically, as soon as lawmakers convened at about 11.03am, it went into a closed door session, which only lasted for about 10 minutes. As soon as it reconvened, Saraki, who presided, read letters from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Daily Sun gathered that during the closed door session, senators from the ruling APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), agreed to give peace a chance.
A senator who spoke to Daily Sun, said lawmakers had a frank talk about the future of the eighth Senate as they deliberated on pending requests from President Buhari, especially confirmations of appointees and budgets of agencies.
“The Senate went into close session where all members had frank discussions about the future of the eighth Senate as it goes into its last stage.
“Members agreed to give peace a chance and avoid allowing the Red Chamber to degenerated into an arena of conflict over partisan and personal issues.
“The APC caucus leadership also extracted a promise from the senate president that national interest will continue to take precedence over any other consideration in the activities of the Senate.
“The senators agreed not to allow external forces and influence to cause disaffection, disturbance or crisis within the legislature,” the lawmaker revealed in confidence.
Meanwhile, Biodun Olujimi, who until yesterday was the Senate Minority Deputy Whip, took over as Senate Minority Leader, while Emmanuel Paulker from Bayelsa state, took over as Deputy Minority Whip.
Although it was yet to be formally announced on the floor of the Senate, Olujimi sat on the seat reserved for the Senate Minority Leader.
Godswill Akpabio, who recently defected to APC is the immediate-past Minority Leader. He resigned, following his defection.
But, former Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, has opened up on why APC senators did not fire from all cylinders on the first day of resumption.
Speaking on a national television programme monitored in Lagos, Ndume reiterated that it was absurd, in a presidential system of government, for a minority to preside over the chamber’s affairs.
“There is an absurdity that a member of the minority is presiding in the chamber; same in the House of Representatives. We will see how it plays out but the urgent matters of national importance takes priority.
“The APC is in the majority in the two chambers. For the Senate, we have published the list. There are 54 senators in the chamber, with some of us in APGA.
I don’t see how the issue of majority and minority becomes an issue. Well, you can say we have simple majority in the chamber.
“If I were the two presiding officers, I would either resign or allow them to have another office and open myself to a vote of no confidence… It’s not normal for someone in the minority to preside over the majority. The situation is not normal and since the situation is not normal, abnormal things can happen.”
Like in the senate, the session in the House of Representatives was brief, as it adjourned after barely 16 minutes in honour of one of its members, Adedoyin,who died during the recess.
Adedoyin, a former Minister of Health during the tenure of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, until her death, was member representing Ekiti /Irepodun/Isin/ Oke-Ero federal constituency of Kwara State. She was also the deputy chairman, House Committee on Army.
The House adjourned at about 11:55 a.m., after the adoption of motion moved by the House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Reject Saraki like PDP delegates, APC orders Senators
Notwithstanding the calm in the National Assembly, especially the Senate, the APC has directed the members of the Senate to reject Saraki, as the delegates rejected his candidacy during the recently concluded PDP presidential primary election in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) noted that the disappointing performance of Saraki during the presidential primaries was a testimony that he is a leader that cannot be trusted, relied upon and keep agreements
The ruling party, in a statement signed by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, argued that the rejection of Saraki was a clear indication that the PDP was already fed up with his political style.
According to the statement: “The delegates of the PDP have rejected Saraki as their presidential candidate. Let the Senators also do likewise by rejecting the greedy, deceitful and unreliable Senate President as their leader. A new President of the Senate, free from all allegations of criminality is needed now.”
“The disappointing performance of Bukola Saraki at the Presidential Election Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a befitting end to the ambition of a greedy, untrustworthy and double-dealing politician.
“With a miserly 317 votes, behind Aminu Tambuwal’s 693 votes and Atiku Abubakar’s 1,532 votes, the PDP delegates have given clear indication that they are fed up with Saraki’s political style.
“When a leader cannot be trusted, cannot be relied upon, and cannot keep agreements, the people take due cognizance and records of these actions and respond with their votes at the appropriate time.
“How will someone who emerged Senate President through conspiracy with members of the opposition Party and against the wishes and interests of his own party be trusted to be elected as the presidential candidate of a party? Even on his being elected to the position, did Saraki acquit himself creditably?
“Throughout Saraki’s tenure as Senate President, it has been one confrontation between the National Assembly leadership with the Executive or another. Confirmation of Executive nominees sent to the Senate for confirmation has been delayed unnecessarily, annual national budgets delayed.
“For instance, the supplementary budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 General Elections is continually delayed due to Saraki’s selfish political machinations.
“A selfish Saraki will rather than perform his constitutional legislative functions by ensuring timely consideration and passage of Executive bills, will rather sabotage the efforts of the Executive in furtherance of his treacherous politics.
“Having sabotaged the President Muhammadu Buhari government while in the APC, he later showed his true colours by formally joining the opposition PDP. The APC bade him goodbye as he returned to the looters club where he belongs. “However, in doing so, Saraki must do the needful by giving up the Senate President position. He should be a distinguished Senator in name and in deed. He cannot continue to preside over the APC-dominated Senate as a member of the minority PDP,” the statement read.
Saraki, in his response to the diatribe said Adams Oshiomhole should concentrate on how to salvage the APC from the “civil war” he has thrown the ruling party into.
The terse response issued by Yusuph Olaniyonu Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Senate President: “We have noted the irresponsible statement issued by the APC spokesman, Yekini Nabena. We know that he and the leadership of the APC are always incensed and disturbed at the mere hearing of the name, Saraki. It is also notable that Nabena and the APC are always concerned about the developments in the opposition party, the PDP.
“However, we believe that with the ‘civil war’ that Adams Oshiomhole and Yekini Nabena have ignited in the APC and the very low level that they have dragged the party, in such manner that the ruling party is wallowing in confusion and disorganisation, they have too much to preoccupy them than to be poking their noses in what happens to Saraki or the PDP.”