Thursday, 6 November 2014

Senate backs Tambuwal, vows to protect legislature

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal

The Senate abruptly adjourned sitting on Wednesday without taking decision on any issue, including the bills before it.
Before the adjournment which was protested by the All Progressives Congress Senators, its President, David Mark, lamented the withdrawal of the security aides of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and vowed to protect the Legislature.
He said, “We are not to interfere in the internal affairs of each house. However, as the Chairman of the National Assembly, I cannot fold my arms or pretend that all is well about the current crisis.
“I am therefore going to do all I can to resolve the current impasse. Furthermore, the matter is already in a court of law, we cannot therefore discuss the issues here. I want to assure all of you that I will do the needful to protect and defend the legislature at all costs.”
Signs that the Senate might not have a smooth sitting however started when Mark   read the prayers and an announcement by the Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma – Egba, inviting members of the PDP caucus   for a crucial meeting at the Hearing Room One in the chamber.
The PDP caucus in the red chamber were protesting their alleged maltreatment by President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the party, over the last ward congresses, which ensured that only candidates of governors emerged as delegates.
Mark thereafter invited Ndoma – Egba to lead the senate to the next item on the order paper for deliberation barely 20 minutes into the plenary.
However, rather than mentioning any item on the order paper, the Senate leader said, “Having exhausted all items on the order paper for today(Wednesday), I hereby move for an adjournment to Tuesday, 11th November for further legislative business.”
The adjournment motion was then seconded by the Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Senator Ahmed Sanni Yerima.

While the PDP senators echoed yes to the Senate President’s question on whether the sitting should be adjourned as moved and seconded accordingly, their counterparts in the APC shouted nay but Mark ruled in favour of the former.
But before he finally announced the adjournment, Mark explained that the decision was in solidarity with their colleagues in the House of Representatives over the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security aides by both the Police and the Department of State Service.
The PDP senators, led by Mark, immediately went into a private meeting   to further perfect their strategies on how to confront Jonathan and the PDP over their displeasure with the conduct of their party’s ward congresses.
Our correspondent learnt that the real reason for the abrupt adjournment of the Senate was to enable the PDP senators to have enough time to fine tune strategies for contesting the     congresses, which ensured that only candidates of governors emerged as delegates.
A senator, who confided in our correspondent, said they resolved to continue their protest until Jonathan and the PDP leadership ensured justice and fairness in the emergence of candidates that would win the PDP tickets in   next year’s general elections.
The source also said   that their meeting with Jonathan over the congresses would hold   around 10 pm on Wednesday.
He said, “We had fruitful deliberations and I think we are getting close to resolving the crisis. We have been told that the President would lead a meeting of the National Working Committee of the PDP to discuss with us.”
Another lawmaker said that they had already told the President and the PDP leadership that two serving senators from each state must get automatic tickets for the Senatorial poll.
He said,   “We have already put our cards on the table. We have resolved that at least two serving senators in each of the 36 states must be given automatic tickets, while each governor should   nominate someone   for the third ticket.”
Ndoma – Egba, who briefed journalists after the meeting   justified the protest by his colleagues, stressing that “defending democracy is bigger than the Senate .’’
He said, “I am sure you are aware that PDP caucus met yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday) on fundamental issues affecting democracy in Nigeria arising from the ward congress of our party last Saturday.
“The issues need to be addressed   very urgently by relevant PDP stakeholders in the interest of our democracy . You will all surely be briefed when the issues are addressed.’’
However, the APC senators   condemned the adjournment of plenary till next week, stressing that the PDP Caucus had decided to cripple activities in the Senate over personal interests.
Spokesperson for the APC caucus, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said in a statement that the action of the PDP senators were of no benefit to the overall well-being of the nation.
The lawmaker accused their PDP counterparts of not allowing the Senate to sit for two days in a row. He recalled that the Senate adjourned as soon as it convened on Tuesday and   adjourned again on Wednesday without any deliberation.
Ojudu attributed what he termed as the PDP senators’ insensitivity to issues of national interests to the   battle that they were having with their   governors over PDP’s structures in their various states.
He said, “While we are in sympathy with our colleagues for their fate in the hand of the President   and the governors in their respective states, we in the APC Senate Caucus, however condemn the habit of prioritising personal interests over national interests at the expense of the people that they swore to protect.
“We had planned today (Tuesday) to raise the issues of insecurity to Nigerians and the trend of insecurity in Nigeria. Mubi, which is the second largest town in Adamawa State, has been overrun by terrorists.
“Nigerians in that area are fleeing their homes, afraid and uncertain of the preservation of their lives. Emirs are being driven from their palaces.
“A foremost cement factory in Gombe State has   been taken over by Boko Haram, according to news reports. Many may not believe the alarm raised by the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Zanna Mustapha, that it is just a matter of weeks before Boko Haram takes over the whole state, but the reality is even scarier than this.
“Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters in the PDP do not see it this way. They rather prefer to bicker over party nomination and return tickets,”
Ojudu added that it was, however, shocking that the PDP was selling Nigeria and Nigerians short for party nomination in spite of all the gory episodes that the country was going through.
Ojudu said it had planned to use Wednesday’s sitting to call for a resolution compelling   Jonathan to, as a matter of urgency, protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
He added that the plan could not sail through because senators elected on the platform of the President’s party did not allow the Senate to sit.
“It is rather unfortunate that we are busy chasing rats while our roof is burning. The senators elected on the platform of the APC wish to let Nigerians know that we are ready to work, but our PDP counterparts are arm-twisting us because they are in the majority,” the Senator said.

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