Crisis Rocks APC in Senate Over Saraki’s Election
The crack that emerged within the ranks of the 59 APC senators in the build-up to the inauguration of the 8th Senate and election of president and deputy Senate president which took place on Tuesday widened yesterday with the 33 of them who supported Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) for the position of Senate president kicking against the process that produced Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike EKweremadu as new president and deputy president of the Senate respectively.
The pro-Lawan group also staged a walkout after being ruled out of order by the Senate president just as they alleged that Saraki’s election was illegitimate
Drama started in the floor of the Senate when futile attempts made by both Senators Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) and Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue North East) on the floor of the Senate for the Senate president to make reasonable reconsideration on the process that brought him into office through breaches of the privileges of 51 senators that were shut out of the election.
Both senators based their submissions on Order 15 of the Senate Standing Rule which deals with matter of personal privileges, but they were ruled out of order by the president of the Senate.
Apparently angered by Saraki’s action, the group staged a walkout in protest of the decision of the Senate president to rule them out of order
Subsequently, the 33 Pro-Lawan senators led by Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East), under the aegis of The Unity Forum, at media briefing yesterday, accused the clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, of carrying out illegality with the election of Bukola Saraki as Senate president on Tuesday when only 57 out of 108 senators-elect across party divides were around. They vowed to contest it in the court of law.
He said contrary to reports in the media yesterday that they boycotted the election that produced Saraki as the president of the Senate, they were rather at the International Conference Centre (ICC) for a meeting with President Buhari as duly summoned by the party’s national leadership.
According to him, invitation for the meeting came through the office of the APC national chairman, Chief John Oyegun , which indicated the request of President Buhari to have a brief meeting with all APC-elected senators and House of Representatives members at the ICC before the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly at 10am.
“Consequently, as loyal party members, we would take all necessary political and legal means to redress the anomaly,” he said.
He said, on behalf of the other senators in the group, that the process which produced Saraki as Senate president, as far as they are concerned, remains unconstitutional and cannot in anyway confer legitimacy to him in that capacity. “Our right to participate in the election of the Senate president is a constitutional right which cannot be taken away by any person or group of persons,” he stated.
They also countered the claim made by the clerk of the National Assembly – that the election was conducted because of the quorum formed by the 57 senators in attendance, by saying that the quorum required for such an election was not 38 as claimed by the clerk, but two-thirds of the entire 109 senators, which was far above the 57 senators in attendance.
“The Clerk of the National Assembly, knowing full well that the quorum for election of the Senate president had not been met, went ahead to conduct an election that shut the door to about 53 other senators, which would remain unacceptable until what would meet democratic parameters is done,” he said.
However, in a counter briefing, the Like Minds senators led by Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) dismissed the complaints of the Lawan-led senators as baseless since, according to him, in spite of 38 senators expected to form the quorum for the inauguration and election as specified in the Senate Standing Order 10(1), 76 senators eventually attended the session.
He said the claim by the absentee senators that they were in a meeting with President Buhari was ridiculous because, according to him, President Buhari, a man noted for his forthrightness over the years, will not issue a proclamation for the inauguration of National Assembly with a stated time of 10am and then call a meeting fixed for the same time, with the same people to be inaugurated.
He said what is happening is not a polarization of APC but the expression of interest by different people within the party.
He also debunked the claims that the former Senate president, David Mark, was sworn in as the Senate leader, saying that Mark was sworn in separately as a mark of respect for the being the longest serving senator, having been in the chamber since 1999. He noted that it was the duty of the majority party to produce the Senate leader.