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Leftover NASS Positions: Saraki Rejects Oyegun’s Nomination

Bukola Saraki

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – There seems to be no end in sight for the crisis in the Senate as move by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to nominate party men for the remaining four leadership positions of the senate was rejected by Saraki.

The APC National Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun had on Monday, June 22, 2015, after series of meetings with the entire 59 APC senators in the senate, forwarded a written letter to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in which Senators  Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), was nominated to be given the position of Senate Leader while George Akume (Benue North West), was recommended for the post of Deputy Senate Leader.

Others are, senator Olushola Adeyeye (Osun Central, nominated for the position of Chief Whip of the Senate and Abu Ibrahim (Katsina South) as Deputy Chief Whip.

When it became clear that Saraki might not read the letter, a member of Lawan group, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East) rose up at the senate plenary on Wednesday to compel the Senate President to read it.

Ashafa who came through order 15 of the Senate’s standing rule that deals with matter of breaches of personal privileges argued that the refusal of the Senate President to read the letter or give it consideration in anyway within the last 48hours in the face of the Senate not having the needed principal officers in place yet, shows that contempt of breach of privilege has been committed.‪

He argued further by invoking ordern28(1), 29(1), 30(1) and 31(1) which states that principal officers of the senate from the Leader down to the Deputy Chief Whip should be nominated from the party with majority seats in the senate, upon which he said , the APC National Chairman , after due consultations with relevant stake holders of the party, forwarded the said letter to that effect.

‪He added: “A letter that is written by the chairman of our great party, the largest party in Africa, the APC, was sent here and by the special grace of God, we expected that that letter which has been received in your office, with due respect, would be read in order to see to the resolution of the party’s leadership tussle.

“Let me go to Order 28 (1), I read with your permission: Majority Leader of the Senate: There shall be Majority Leader of the Senate nominated by the party with the highest number of seats in the Senate.

“Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate: There shall be a Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate. A Deputy Majority Leader shall be a Senator nominated from the party, again, with the highest number of seats in the Senate.

“There shall be a Chief Whip in Senate. The Chief Whip shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of seats in the Senate.

“Again, 31(4): There shall be a Deputy Majority Whip of the Senate. He shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of seats in the Senate.

“Mr. President, by virtue of the privilege of being one of the Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and coming from our party, I believe that that letter should have been read to the hearing of all Senators here present. Perhaps that will be the solution to the leadership tussle in the Senate”

But Ashafa’s request was knocked down by another APC senator loyal to Saraki, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South) who through a counter point of order, urged the senate to ignore Ashafa’s request.

He said: “I am proceeding on the same order 28 just to offer explanation. By the popular rules of interpretation of documents that has been agreed by parties, the ordinary letters and words used must be given their effective meaning.

“With your permission I am going to read sir: ‘There shall be a majority leader of the Senate. The Majority Leader shall be a Senator nominated from not by.’ What this seems to do is to debar the internally displaced side from nominating the majority leader and to confer it on the All Progressives Congress which incidentally happens to have the highest number in the 8th Senate.

“So with due respect, the point of order raised by my bosom friend and brother, Ashafa, even goes further to explain the raison d’être, as to why the president shall not proceed to read that letter allegedly sent to this chamber by the All Progressives Congress, and therefore, we should go ahead with the functions and exercise of this Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria based on what we have accepted as majority party, that change is the platform that we will ride to move this country forward. So, I urge that this matter cannot stand”

Ruling to the two point of orders, Saraki sustained that of Ibn Na’Allah and overruled that of Ashafa by saying I have listened to Senator Gbenga Ashafa and Senator Na’Alla and in going by our rules and in going by what I said earlier, I would just note what Senator Ashafa has said, I think we will leave the matter for now and In that case, I rule Ashafa out of order.


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