THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has blasted the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for saying that Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s emergence as Deputy Senate President was something the ruling party cannot stomach.
The PDP pointed out in a statement by its interim national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, in Abuja, on Tuesday, that as Speaker of the House of Representatives elected under the majority PDP, Aminu Tambuwal defected to the APC and the party hierarchy, including President Muhammadu Buhari defended his defection as good for democracy.
The party said it was concerned but not shocked about the comment credited to Odigie-Oyegun which suggested that the continued rumpus in the Senate, “including the unrelenting harassment of its leadership and the recent arraignment of its presiding officers on phantom criminal charges of conspiracy and forgery” was all about the emergence of Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
The statement read: “In a Freudian slip that reveals the underbelly of the entire shenanigan, the national chairman of the APC had said they would never accept Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President.”
The APC boss had been quoted as saying concerning the ongoing trial of Senate leadership: “I think the thing that rankled us most was the election of Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President. Saraki is a member of the APC, much as the main line of the party would have wished a different result and a different scenario, but we all find it very, very difficult to accept the emergence of a PDP person as his deputy.”
The PDP noted that although it had been “an open secret, but our fears have now been confirmed by the APC national chairman himself,” it, however, wanted to make it clear that “the APC has no constitutional or moral grounds to be displeased with Ekweremadu’s emergence or to go this ridiculous length to harass, intimidate, embarrass and malign him, and the institution of the Senate on account of a position to which his colleagues, cutting across party lines, elected him in a transparent and televised election in line with Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.”
The opposition party added: “Even the APC as a party and through its chieftains, including President Buhari (before his election), had variously and robustly defended the constitutionality and imperativeness of bi-partisan legislative leadership during the defection of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal to its fold while in opposition, without relinquishing his position.”
Citing statements by former APC spokesman, Lai Mohammed and the former House Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, in support of the defection of Tambuwal, the statement went further to give other instances where minority APC members had emerged as presiding officers of state houses of assembly and were accepted by the PDP.
It will be recalled that Honourable Terkimbi Kyange of the minority APC was elected Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly on June 5, 2015, four clear days ahead of the inauguration of the eighth Senate.
Peter Azi of the minority APC was likewise elected Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly in June 2015.
The PDP noted: “The majority PDP made do with the position of Deputy Speaker in both instances, but accepted this as part of our democratic evolution.
“We, therefore, invite the APC-led Federal Government to tell the world why bi-partisan leadership in the legislature was good in the instances of Honourable Tambuwal, as well as the Benue and Plateau assemblies, but an abomination in the case of Senator Ekweremadu.
“We consider APC’s stance on Ekweremadu and his continued persecution on this account as the height of duplicity, intolerance, and executive excesses unwarranted and inexcusable in a democracy.
“More so, unlike APC’s rancorous opposition in parliament in the recent past, the PDP lawmakers, including Senator Ekweremadu, has provided a very responsible opposition, supporting the government and overlooking its serial fumbles. Ekweremadu is not APC’s stumbling block.”
It reminded the APC that the National Assembly was a separate arm of government created by constitution, not an arm of the executive or extension of the APC’s secretariat.
Furthermore, it said: “We totally align with the separate resolutions of the Senate and the House of Representatives on June 21, 2016, to the effect that our democracy is in grave danger.
“We support the call on members of the international community, the media and civil societies to help arrest this scary deterioration of our nascent democracy and democratic values before it is too late.
“What is good for the goose is good also for the gander.”