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Please Join APC Now And Keep Your Seat, Says Marafa To Ekweremadu |The Republican News

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Senator Kanir Marafa

A member of the Senate Unity Forum, a group within the All Progressives Congress senators in the red chamber, Senator Kabir Marafa, in this interview with LEKE BAIYEWU, explains how Senator Ali Ndume was removed as the Majority Leader and the next move by the caucus

Why did the Senate APC caucus change its leadership on Wednesday?

When we reconvened at the 8th Assembly, you all know what happened. There was leadership tussle; we had the Like Minds Senators and the Senate Unity Forum, where Senator Ahmed Lawan contested on the SUF platform and Senator Bukola Saraki contested on the LMS. Like we all know, it is God who gives leadership and God gave it to Senator Bukola Saraki and that brought some friction between the two camps of the same APC.

Naturally, when there is such a crisis, the next port of call is the parents — in this case, we all know who the parents of all politicians The President, and the leader of the party. We rushed to the party and said this was what happened. The party, after looking at the whole scenario and all that happened, said since he (Saraki) had taken this one (Senate President), the remaining four positions, that is, the Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip, should be ceded to the SUF faction of the APC caucus in order to bring the caucus together. But as fate would have it, the LMS faction didn’t see it that way that time. That was what led to all the crisis. We in the SUF felt that it was disobedience (by the LMS faction) to the party.

From that time till today, anybody who wishes APC well had this at the back of their minds and all hands had been on deck to ensure that the crisis is resolved. So, pressure had been mounting on all the APC senators, on the need for us to come together but we (SUF) insisted that the only way we could come together was when we all respect our party because it was the party that brought us into this place (Senate) because elections are held on the basis of the party, not individuals. If the party says this thing belongs to us (SUF), we want you to give it to us. What you have seen today is just a result of all the pressure mounting over time.

Why did the caucus meet on Monday and how did it arrive at the decision to change its leadership?

Our rule says that once you become anything, the only way you can be removed is through constitutional means. Now, since there was a nomination, the only way we can reverse it is to follow the rules. Our Standing Rules, precisely Order 32(6), spells out how leadership can be removed — leadership, not presiding officers; presiding officers have the rules that specify how they can be removed. Order 32(6) spells it out that any party can change its leadership, provided it has the majority (to take the decision). You need to have the majority to effect the change.

Ndume said he was not aware of the whole process. How did the caucus hatch the plan without his knowledge?

With due respect to him, the law didn’t say someone must know or everybody must know. Order 32(g)(IV) says, ‘After due notice of the Senate, each party has the right to change its leader or whip provided that the change is made by a majority of the senators of a party in the Senate.’ That is all it says. It didn’t say we have to notify him or her or anybody; just notify the Senate. And that was what the Senate President (Bukola Saraki) did. It (the decision) has the signatures of people (at the meeting). It can be used to establish the fact that the majority took the decision. If you don’t have the majority and you are questioning why you were removed, I will protest too.

With this move, can you now say that the APC has forgiven Saraki for hijacking the leadership of the Senate from the party?

I am not an official of the APC, so I don’t think it is fair for you to ask me that question; you should ask the APC leadership that question. But as a party member, I feel it can be taken for granted because the party said it by itself; it wrote a letter (saying) that we have accepted you but we want you to do this. So, if he does that, automatically, it shows that he’s been forgiven.

If there is anything now, the remaining problem is about what we do with our Deputy Senate President — my leader and my boss. I will tell him that he should exploit the provision of our Constitution — Section 68(g) — that says when there is a rift in a political party, members can defect to another party. Let me use the opportunity to call on my leader and my boss, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to please defect to the APC and that will seal the whole thing and there will never be a problem since we will become one. That is the only seat we are contesting because the seat belongs to us and, Ekweremadu, is from the Peoples Democratic Party. Now, if he just defect to our party, shikenah! (That’s all.) Everything becomes one.

Is your next move for Ekweremadu’s seat?

I am telling you that he has the opportunity now. Let him just defect. The beauty of any political party is the people. If you can join us, join us. We want more people. Instead of moving against his seat, let him join us.

What if he refuses to join the APC?

He will! I am using this medium now to tell him to please join the APC. It is when he says he is not joining (the party) that you can come back to say Ike has refused to join the APC, what are you going to do? I am using this medium now to call on Ike to join APC.

He has the golden opportunity: Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff have successfully to our delight, caused a division in the PDP. We are always praying that their power tussle will continue. While I pray for Makarfi to have the upper hand, I am also praying for Sheriff to have the power and ability to sustain the fight, so that we (APC) will be taking the senators one by one.

The Constitution says once there is a division (in a political party), senators can defect. Let all well-meaning APC members and even people who are sympathetic to the APC, let Ike (Ekweremadu) — instead of moving against his seat, which I don’t want to do because he was my leader in the 6th and 7th Assembly and now in the 8th Assembly — use this golden opportunity to defect to the APC and the party will become one in the Senate. Then, I can tell you that the Senate will be stable and there won’t be any friction. The little (issue) we can then have may be due to human nature. You never can say that you will gather people and they will not disagree.

Many people believe that Ndume was removed due to the issue surrounding the nomination of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

I have told you what the reason is but you’re now alleging something else. What is the Magu issue?

Was Ndume not sacked because of his reaction to the way the Senate rejected Magu’s nomination?

I don’t know about that but let me tell you something: there is no way I, Kabir Marafa, will oppose anything the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria brings to the floor of the Senate. So, if you are saying it is because of that (Magu), do you think people like us in the SUF will oppose him? Nobody will, definitely. So, that is out of the question. As far as I am concerned, I am telling you that there is nothing like that because I am not opposed to Magu — I make bold to say that. Why then will I support any move against anyone who supports Magu?

Having said that, I think we should desist from this politics of tribalism, sectionalism or ethnicity. If you say it is because of Magu, you should have asked why he (Ndume) is supporting Magu that way. I supported Magu even though Magu is not from my place (state). We should be seen as senators of Nigeria than to be supporting you, regardless of where we come from. I don’t want that issue to be raised because it will raise a lot of sentiments against us. But I can tell you that I supported Magu and I will support anything the President brings. Henceforth, you will see the APC and say, ‘this is what we have been missing.’ Henceforth, you will see that the two groups (SUF and LMS) will be liquidated and you will not hear anything like, Like Minds or Unity Forum; it is going to be APC. Whatever the President brings, we are going to support it. If we have any grouse or misgivings, we will go and sit down with our President and our party, trash issues and come out well. We have seen how they did it in the Peoples Democratic Party when we were in the minority. We don’t want issues like (staging) walkouts; we don’t want PDP to stage another walkout. Let us just take Ekweremadu’s seat and we will leave them with the rest.  (Punchng.com)

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Senate Rejects FG’s Ban On Vechicle Importation |The Republican News

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Says FG’s tariffs highest in West Africa

From Fred Itua, Abuja

Senate, yesterday, unanimously rejected the Federal Government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders into the country.

The Red Chamber It described the policy as anti-people and meant to further impoverish Nigerians.

Deputy Senate President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu who presided at yesterday’s plenary, specifically urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the cries of Nigerians and rescind the decision.

“From the contributions here, it is obvious that the policy is unpopular. We are representatives of the people and the people have spoken through us that they do not want this policy. I think those in government should listen to them,” said Ekweremadu.

Adopting two, of the three prayers, Senate called on Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to, “immediately, suspend further action on the ban on importation of vehicles through our land borders as January 1, 2017.”

Senate Committee on Customs and Excise has been mandated to investigate the circumstances which led to government’s decision.

Sponsor of the motion, Barau Jibrin, from Kano State, explained that the ban would lead to the loss of about 500,000 jobs.

He further argued: “The economy of border villages and towns that depend on the activities of vehicles importation shall be adversely affected, to the detriment of all.

“Since the announcement, through the NCS, Nigerians have spoken out, and they still do, that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through our land borders given the ramification of such a policy on the economy.

Senators who spoke on the issue, condemned the policy.

Immediate past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume said: “Let us not forget the fact that the Constitution says the primary responsibility of government is for the security and welfare of the people. This policy will render so many small businesses useless. My constituents are disturbing me to ensure that this policy is reversed.

“Why can’t Nigeria look at its policy to ensure that our laws are reformed? Senator Dino Melaye said, with the policy, it “is an admittance by Customs that they lack the capacity to mount our borders effectively. As a parliament, we must speak in the interest of the people. We should be seen to be defending the people we are representing here.”

Former Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu, said the policy is “an unpopular policy. This is a government that is supposed to bring change and succour to the people. But, they have brought hardship on the people.

“This Senate must stand with the people. We need to defend the people. This government should put on its thinking cap and come up with policies that are beneficial to the people.”

Chairman of the  Committee on Works, Kabiru Gaya agreed that, although “this is our government, as legislators, we should speak the truth.

“By stopping importation through land borders, we are creating hardship. Other countries within West Africa region, have lower tariffs. We have to look at this issue.

“Let government man the borders and do the right thing. By this policy, we have created a new unemployment of over 500,000. This policy can increase in the states. We should reverse to the former policy. We should stop this policy.”

The committee headed by Senator Hope Uzodinma, is expected to report back within two weeks.

The Federal Government, recently rolled out new tariffs on imported goods and also placed a total ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.

Since the policy was introduced, it has generated a mixed reaction, with majority of Nigerians, calling for a reversal of the policy.  (The Sun)

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Defect To Retain Your Post, Senate APC Caucus To Ekweremadu |The Republican News

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Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu

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)

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