Compared to what happened in 2015, the election into the leadership of the current Senate went smoothly. As this platform reported earlier, Senators Ahmed Lawan of Yobe North and Ovie Omo-Agege of Delta Central were elected as Senate and Deputy Senate President respectively.
At the end of the roll-call of Senators during the inauguration, 107 out of the 109 senators-elect were present at the chamber. At the close of voting, Lawan who was unanimously adopted by the APC polled 79 votes to defeat his rival, Senator Ali Ndume of Borno South, who polled with 28 votes. Ndume had defiantly contested for the position against the decision of the leadership of the APC. In the Deputy Senate President contest, Senator Omo-Agege polled 68 votes to defeat ambitious senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP, who scored 37.
Suffice it to state that this year’s contest was without intrigues. It was quite unlike what happened in 2015 when Bukola Saraki adopted subterfuge to become Senate President. We reproduce the story below, published in TheNEWS hard copy of the 22 June 2015 edition. It is entitled:
Saraki’s Bloodless ‘Coup’,
Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress gasps as Senator Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara outwitted it as they seize the leadership of National Assembly in a lightning, bloodless ‘coup’
By Ayorinde Oluokun
ABUJA – Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki takeover of the leadership of the eighth session of the Nigerian Senate against the wishes of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, last Tuesday was not lacking in treachery. It was also replete with the element of surprise, which in military terms would qualify for a blitzkrieg. Indeed, the completely stunned leadership of APC in a statement released few hours after the amazingly speedy way the new Senate President emerged dubbed it the highest “level of treachery, disloyalty and insincerity within any party.”
But how did it happen that APC leaders were caught napping? Didn’t they envisage the game plan, the maneuverings of the former Governor of Kwara State?
The fact was that the leadership of the APC was outsmarted by one of its own in a manner that will qualify as one of the most audacious in Nigerian political history. The success of the June 9 Bloodless Coup by Saraki had literarily left APC with eggs on its face with the new ruling party, becoming an object of crude jokes by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP whose members contributed in no small measure to the big political upset.
But the bigger challenge for the National Working Committee of APC, as became evident last week, will be how to bring Saraki and his group into line in the days ahead as the party and some of its leading members are speaking in discordant tones over the issue. In the statement, which was signed by its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, the APC had emphasized that Senator Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara who was also elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives was neither its preferred candidates nor that of the majority of its National Assembly members-elect for the positions of Senate President and House Speaker. Virtually dripping with rage, the party had vowed “to mete out the necessary sanctions to all those involved in what is nothing but a monumental act of indiscipline and betrayal to subject the party to ridicule and create obstacles for the new administration.”
In addition, APC also said it will use all constitutional and legal means available to it to reverse the situation. It was gathered last week that the party might consider the option of going to court.
However, there were indications that some of the leaders of APC are trying to invoke Article 9.1, Sub-Section 2 of the party’s constitution which deals with the Rules and Obligations of members to the party against the two rebellious members. The section of the APC Constitution recommends punishments ranging from reprimand, censure, fine, debarment from holding party office, suspension or expulsion for members who refuse to comply with the party’s aims and objectives, conduct themselves in a manner that shall bring the party to public odium and disrepute or refuse to observe the rules and regulations of the party.
This, it was learnt may lead to suspension or outright expulsion of the two leaders of the National Assembly from APC. Such drastic action apart from its potential to boomerang and cause further damage to the party may not receive the support of other key members outside of the NWC. And one of those that may not likely support such a drastic move is the number one member of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President had in his immediate reaction to the emergence of the two National Assembly leaders noted that while he would have wished that those chosen by the party were the ones elected, he did not have any preferred candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives leadership. The President who noted that a constitutional process has ‘somewhat occurred’ with the emergence of Saraki and Dogara added that he was willing to work with whoever the lawmakers chose as their leaders. He further noted that “the stability of our constitutional order and overall interest of the common man “ were uppermost on his mind, “as far as the National Assembly elections were concerned.”