He must leave PDP now, lawmakers insist
Lawan performs first duty as Senate Leader
From Fred Itua, Abuja
A prominent member of the Unity Forum in the Senate, Kabir Marafa, said yesterday that with the removal of Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Leader on Tuesday, the next target is the seat of Deputy Senate President now occupied by Sen. Ike Ekweremadu
Senate Ahmad Lawan emerged as the Senate Leader, but Ndume corroborated that Ekweremadu’s seat is next to go. According to him, it was his turn on Tuesday. He said APC Senators are keen on removing the Deputy Senate President.
Ndume also said Ekweremadu’s seat may be next for grabs by ‘desperate’ APC Senators.
“Today, it is my turn, tomorrow, it could be anybody. “If today, just like that, without telling somebody and he goes out (to pray) and was removed from office, if it is Ndume today and it’s okay, it may be, God forbid, Ekweremadu tomorrow,” he said.
Ndume emerged under controversial circumstances in June, 2015, was removed on Tuesday.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement at the close of plenary on Tuesday, did not, however, give reasons Ndume was removed as Leader. Ndume was outside the chamber when his replacement was read by Saraki.
Daily Sun learnt that APC Senators, predominantly of the Unity Forum, are making a daring move to wrest power from Ekweremadu who is from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It was learnt that some APC Senators are already scheming to battle Ekweremadu, if the current efforts to convince the Deputy Senate President to defect to the ruling APC failed.
Giving insight into the plot to commence Ekweremadu’s removal, Senator Marafa told Daily Sun that if the Deputy Senate President defects to APC, there may not be any need to make a move for his seat.
Marafa insisted that Ekweremadu’s continous stay in office was depriving the APC of what rightly belongs to them.
He said: “Let me call on the Deputy President of the Senate, Ekweremadu to defect to APC. If he defects, it will seal everything and there will not be any problem again. Ekweremadu’s seat is the only one we are contesting. That seat belongs to us in the APC. He came from the PDP to take the seat.
Marafa, who re-echoed his earlier position yesterday on the floor of the Senate, got the backing of other APC Senators, who equally urged Ekweremadu to defect to the ruling party.
A former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, also stressed the need for Ekweremadu to defect to the APC. He said Ekweremadu’s continuous stay in the PDP was unhealthy for the Senate.
Reacting, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South), defended Ekweremadu. He said such a joke was uncalled for and that the Deputy Senate President was not done with the PDP yet.
Meanwhile, new Senate Leader Lawan yesterday assumed duties when he led the chamber’s business of the day.
He got into the chamber around 10.45am, alongside Ekweremadu, who presided at plenary.
Lawan exchanged pleasantries with his colleagues and was ushered into his seat by some APC Senators. He was dressed in his usual ‘agbada.’
Ndume sat two seats away from his former position in the Red Chamber. He sat specifically in Lawan’s former seat and was also dressed in his regular white ‘agbada.’
The business of the day was yet to fully commence, when Ndume cited Order 43 (Personal Explanation) of the Senate Standing Rules (as amended) to protest his removal on Tuesday.
In his explanation, Ndume said he was not given fair hearing.
Contrary to his earlier stance that he was unaware of his removal, Ndume insisted due process was not followed by the APC Senate caucus in removing him as Senate leader
Ndume said: “Mr. President, I discussed with you before the sitting that sequence to the event that happened yesterday (Tuesday) in my absence. I went to pray when there was a change in the leadership particularly the one that affected me
“I felt it is important for me to be given the chance to speak. When I was nominated as the Senate Leader by my colleagues, I said one thing at that time and I want to repeat today that as a Senator. I am not better than anybody here and I also want to believe that all of us are equal in this Senate.
“As Leader, I was not found wanting for anything that I know and because of the unity of this Senate that is more important than myself, three times I offered to resign. I did that because I felt it will bring peace, but I believe that God’s time is the best,” he said.
Saraki orders staff audit
Meanwhile, President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki, has directed the management to carry out a a comprehensive human resource audit in the legislature.
Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Senator Isa Galaudu, in a letter to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, said the measure is aimed at “verifying the skills, efficiency and motivation of the employees of the National Assembly.”
The letter, dated December 16, 2016, with the title: “Carrying out a comprehensive human resource audit in the National Assembly,” reads in part: “We have made commendable strides in our continuous endeavour to attain the goals set out in the legislative agenda of the 8th National Assembly. We, however, must continue to deploy clear strategies that meet the challenges facing this institution and capitalise on the strengths that we possess.