Anxiety over Fate of Saraki, Dogara as NASS resumes

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Senate President, Rd Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara

Seventy-five days after, members of the National Assembly will resume today from their annual recess. In the Senate, the session may be stormy on account of plots to remove Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, just as members of both parties traded words over the issue yesterday.

While the PDP warned their APC colleagues not to beat the drums of war, some APC senators vowed that the Senate President will be removed at the slightest opportunity.

Saraki and Dogara There are also the issues of approval of funds for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct the 2019 elections; amendments to the electoral bill; state and community police among other burning and controversial issues to be tackled. Both chambers of the National Assembly went on recess on Tuesday, July 25, instead of Thursday July 27 on a controversial note, after what was considered a botched attempt to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu.

Defections
The Police blocked the residence of Saraki and prevented Ekweremadu from leaving his residence to attend Senate session. However, Saraki, apparently abreast of the bid attended the session where 17 senators left the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and thereafter adjourned for recess.

A similar scenario played out in the House of Representatives, which also went on recess after 37 lawmakers left the APC for opposition parties, including the PDP. Saraki was to formally defect to the PDP on July 31.

The move fuelled calls by APC leaders on him to resign his Senate presidency or be impeached. Saraki countered that the APC does not have the two-third majority or 73 senators needed to impeach him, a reason today’s resumption is expected to be stormy.

House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, two weeks ago left the APC for the PDP and has picked a re-election ticket on the banner of the PDP for his constituency in Bauchi State. He is also a target for impeachment as the APC is insisting on its control of the National Assembly as the majority party in the country.

Indeed, on July 24 when the National Assembly adjourned for recess, to resume on September 25 in line with the Senate legislative calendar, some lawmakers, especially those bent on his removal as Senate president, described the adjournment as abrupt against the backdrop that the announcement came shortly after some senators dumped the ruling APC for the PDP. Senators who defected that day were Dino Melaye (Kogi West); former National Chairman of PDP, Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-East); Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South); Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North); Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) and Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North). Others were Senators Hamman Isa Misau (Bauchi Central), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central), Usman Bayero Nafada (Gombe North), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), and Soji Akanbi (Oyo South).

Also on the list were Senators Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), Olanrewaju Tejuoso (Ogun Central) and Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa Central). But in a U- turn, Senators Soji Akanbi (APC, Oyo South) and Lanre Tejuoso (Ogun Central) whose names were contained in the letter later addressed journalists, saying that they remained members of the APC.

The lawmakers could not resume on September 25. The resumption was postponed to today, October, 9 via a statement by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori. No specific reason was given for the extension, even though the parties were holding their primaries then.
PDP senators vow to resist attempts to remove Saraki Indeed, PDP Senate Caucus, yesterday, said that it was prepared for a battle with APC senators who are bent on using forceful means to remove Senate President Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu.

Taking a swipe at the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, the PDP senators warned him against any plan to cause tension and problem in the Senate, stressing that the leadership of the Senate is not by party affiliation but through an election by all the senators.

Speaking with Vanguard yesterday, the incoming Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, PDP, Ekiti South said that Lawan as a principal officer and one of the oldest lawmakers in the present dispensation should be conversant with the workings of the National Assembly and the Senate in particular with regard to what it takes to remove presiding officers. Olujimi who noted that the Senators were returning to face their duties more squarely, however prayed that no one distracts them from working, adding that the unity of the Senate is more important than anybody’s inordinate ambition.

Senator Olujimi said: “The Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan should not cause tension and problem in the Senate. He should not promise the APC what he cannot deliver, Nigerians should hold him responsible if the Senate is unable to sit because the leadership of the Senate is not by party affiliation, it is through an election among all the Senators. “Lawan should be reminded that the election of the present Presiding officers of the Senate was done even when he was not present.

He should be reminded that responsible senators who attended the inauguration of the Senate as announced by President Buhari elected the Presiding officers and that Ahmad Lawan as the Senate leader should be conversant with the procedure for the removal of presiding officers and for the avoidance of doubt, the Senate is solidly behind the presiding offers and we will resist any attempt that will offset the calm situation in the Senate.

“The Senate leader should please note that we are returning to handle all outstanding issues and he should be held responsible if we are not able to accomplish them. We ask him as one of the Principal officers of the Senate to refrain from beating drums of war that will not do anyone any good. We have resolved as Senators of the Federal Republic to face our duties squarely and pray that no one distracts us. The unity of the Senate is more important than anybody’s inordinate ambition.”

We’ll remove Saraki at the slightest opportunity, says Omo-Agege However, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who recently defected to the APC from the Labour Party, said yesterday that APC senators would take the first opportunity open to them to remove Saraki as Senate President.

“Our demand has not changed, in fact, that demand has been accentuated by the directive of the APC national leadership,” Omo-Agege representing Delta Central Senatorial District told NAN. “We have all been enjoined as APC senators at a slightest opportunity to remove Saraki and once we are provided with that slightest opportunity, we will remove him and he knows that,” he said. According to him, the moment Saraki left the APC to join the minority PDP, he lost the right, legal and moral, to occupy the office of the Senate President.

“Absolutely, he knows he cannot be; we are not shying away from that. Our position has always been consistent. This is not new, neither is it news. We have made that clear, very clearly in the past. On whether the members, who were aggrieved by the outcome of the primaries at various states might affect their plan, the senator said:
“Well, that is something that we will need to address when we return on Tuesday. ’We will take an audit of where we are in terms of the numbers, in terms of those who are happy and those who are not happy.

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