Olalekan Adetayo and Leke Baiyewu
Twenty-four hours after the All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate sacked Senator Ali Ndume as Majority Leader and replaced him with Senator Ahmed Lawan, a plot by the lawmakers to reclaim the seat of the Deputy Senate President emerged at the chamber during plenary on Wednesday.
Two members of the caucus specifically called on the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to defect to the APC during the session.
Ndume, who also spoke on Order 43 to make personal explanations during the plenary, hinted that the APC caucus might be planning Ekweremadu’s ouster.
Ekweremadu is of the minority Peoples Democratic Party.
Senator Kabir Marafa (Zamfara Central), a prominent member of the pro-Lawan Senate Unity Forum, the group within the APC caucus loyal to the ruling party, had hinted on Tuesday that Ekweremadu should defect to the APC to retain his post.
He stated that the position of the Deputy Senate President belonged to the party with the majority.
Marafa recalled that the national leadership of the APC had written to Saraki, asking him to cede four positions in the Senate to the SUF members loyal to the party.
The positions are Deputy Senate President, Senate Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
All these positions, except the Deputy Senate President, are currently occupied by the APC lawmakers.
At the plenary on Wednesday, Marafa, while moving a motion for the adoption of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday’s plenary, urged Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, to defect to the APC.
Seconding the motion, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), similarly called on the Deputy Senate President to join the APC.
Reacting, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South), described the call for Ekweremadu’s defection as a joke, stating that the Deputy Senate President was not done with the PDP yet.
While putting the motion to a vote, Ekweremadu put the question that the votes and proceedings of Tuesday be adopted while “the other issue be duly removed.”
Ekweremadu (Enugu West), who was the Deputy Senate President in the 6th and 7th Senate when the PDP had the majority, had retained the position in the 8th Senate despite the APC being in the majority.
Marafa had told select journalists at the Senate on Tuesday, shortly after Ndume’s sacking, that the APC caucus might be moving to reclaim Ekweremadu’s post except the Deputy Senate President defected to the APC.
In what sounded like a warning on the move by the APC caucus to remove Ekweremadu, Ndume, while raising his point of order stressed, “I want to say that this Senate is an institution that we must protect. How do you protect the institution? It is to obey the rules and the tradition. If today, just like that, without telling somebody (about his offence) and he goes out; if it is Ndume today and it is (agreed to be) okay, it may be, God forbid, Ekweremadu tomorrow.”
But the Special Adviser to the Deputy President of the Senate, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, when contacted on the telephone on Wednesday night, said Ekweremadu would remain in the PDP.
“My boss remains a bonafide and committed member of the PDP,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President thanked the ex-Senate Leader for his service to the National Assembly after serving in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, in which he had headed critical committees.
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday said there was no truth in insinuations that he sacrificed Ndume, who was sacked as the Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday.
Saraki spoke with State House correspondents shortly after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said it was not correct to assume that there was a crisis in the Senate because of Ndume’s sacking.
“There is no crisis in the National Assembly. Things like this do happen and as you said, the institution is bigger than everybody.
“I am sure that he (Ndume) and everybody else will always work for the interest of the institution and for the interest of the country. Everything is calm, solid and fine,” he said. (Punchng.com)