Senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress and their counterparts in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party have vowed to resume hostilities over which party controls the majority in the upper chamber when the Senate resumes plenary on September 25.
Controversy surrounded the defection of 14 senators from the APC to the PDP as well as the African Democratic Congress; this pitted members of the two dominant political parties against one another.
There are 109 seats in the Senate with only two seats declared vacant following the death of two Senators. The deceased Senators are Ali Wakili (APC, Bauchi-South) and Mustapha Bukar (APC Katsina-North).
The Senator Ahmed Lawan-led APC caucus had after the defection of 14 APC Senators claimed that his party still maintained its majority status with 52 members while the PDP had 50; the ADC, three and APGA, two.
But two of the Senators who left the APC, Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara-South) and Isa Misau (Bauchi-Central), claimed in a statement they jointly signed that the PDP was now in the majority.
While APC Senators had asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to resign for leaving the APC, PDP Senators insisted he couldn’t be forced out because he now belonged to the party they claimed had become the majority.
Senator Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi), on Sunday, said the PDP would prove it was now the majority party in the Senate when the National Assembly reconvenes in September.
Melaye said, “The PDP, as I speak to you, clearly has the majority in the Senate. It is not about noise making or continuous Presidential Villa visitations. The APC senators have visited the Villa four times within one week. The Villa is now a pilgrimage centre.
“The numbers they are brandishing; definitely they are not talking of senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, maybe they include some senators from Mali or Ghana who are on their list. When we resume, seats would be allocated by majority and minority, and seats would be labelled with names. Then you will see clearly the party with the majority.”
The senator also berated the National Chairman, APC, Adams Oshiomhole, for claiming that the seat of the Senate president belonged to the APC.
Oshiomhole had asked Saraki to resign for leaving the APC.
Melaye said, “For those who are saying that Saraki should resign, I am so disappointed in the National Chairman of APC. He did not take time to look at the Constitution and our extant laws, to know that crowns are worn in the kingdoms, villages and communities; that there is no crown in the National Assembly.”
“But he has appropriated the seat of the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to a political party. That is intellectual stagnancy.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara-South), stated, “They (APC) have forgotten that there is something called Constitution.
“Look at the example of those who are saying that the Senate President should leave the seat because he has defected. They have forgotten in just a very short period of time – not a long time that Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal defected then (from PDP to APC) as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Did the ruling party then ask him to step down as Speaker? But they (APC) were rejoicing.
“They should just calm down. If they want Saraki not to be Senate President anymore, they should gather the two-thirds of members. It is as simple as that.”
The two PDP Senators were responding to calls by their APC colleagues for Saraki to resign. Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina-South) had in an interview said there would be no peace in the Senate until Saraki resigned.
Aligning himself to the position of Senator Ibrahim, a member of the Parliamentary Support Group for President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, (APC, Delta), said members of the ruling party were ready to retrieve the seat of the Senate President which he claimed rightly belonged to the APC.
Omo-Agege, who spoke with one of our correspondents, in Abuja, noted, “I don’t need to stress this matter: leaders of the caucus have spoken on behalf of all of us and they have indeed spoken our mind.
“It is very clear that the moment Saraki defected from the APC, he was no longer worthy of that crown; that crown belongs to the majority party in the Senate. And Saraki himself knows that there is no way he is going to remain Senate President.
“Saraki knows that there is no way that he can remain Senate President, having defected to the PDP. We are all waiting for him to do the needful. Whenever the opportunity arises or when we resume in September, we expect him to do the needful by resigning from that office before then. There is no way we are going to be in that Senate and allow Saraki to continue as Senate President.”
Defection not sufficient grounds to remove Saraki —Falana
Speaking on the move to impeach Saraki as Senate President on the basis of his defection from the APC to the PDP, a legal luminary, Femi Falana, in a statement he issued on Sunday, said, “The planned removal of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, by the APC should be stopped as it cannot stand.
“The attention of APC legislators ought to be drawn to section 52 of the Constitution which provides that the President and Deputy Senate President can only be removed by the resolution supported by the votes of not less two-thirds majority of the entirety of the members of the Senate.
“Since the APC legislators cannot muster the required two-thirds majority of the votes of the entire members, the plan to impeach Senator Saraki should be dropped forthwith.”