Ndume to Ekweremadu: You may be the next
FORMER Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, on Wednesday, challenged his removal and warned the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to beware of similar fate.
The former leader, who was removed by the Senate caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), raised a point of order, citing Orders 43 of Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended, to challenge his removal.
He said he was removed while outside the chamber to observe the day’s prayer, adding that he did not commit any offence to warrant his removal, though he accepted his fate after a lenghty submission.
He accused Senator Dino Melaye of spearheading the plot against him by collecting secretly, signatures of about 38 out of 61 APC senators on Tuesday.
He said there was no meeting where the decision to remove him was taken, but insisted that Melaye only circulated the notice of removal, which was signed by 38 APC members at the Tuesday’s plenary.
“I was not at any point told of my wrongdoing as it were, but what Dino did calls for caution on the part of the Senate.
“Today, it is Ali Ndume, God forbid, tomorrow it could be Ekweremadu. I thank God that throughout my service as the Senate Leader, my colleagues tell me most time that leader, we are proud of you. I was not found wanting for anything that I know. Three times I offered to resign if that will bring peace, but I believe that God’s time is the best.
“You are one of those that even warned me here to stop saying that “I will resign.” Yesterday that I was not around, change of leadership was announced.
“In fact, if the number of those that lost confidence in me is not up to this number and I am made to know, I will resign because I did not become a Senate leader in order to lose confidence of any of you.
“Now that I have said it, I think it’s on record that I did not do anything, not to the best of my knowledge, but since 38 of my colleagues signed that I should go, so be it.”
Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, however, played down Ndume’s submissions before Senator Marafa took the floor.
Marafa, in his contributions, said the senators had a duty to choose their leader, insisting that the APC caucus did the right thing by removing him.
He took up Ndume through another point of Order as he also raised order 43 of the Senate standing rules, declaring after it that Ndume’s removal was in line with provisions of order 32(6) of the standing rules.
He said the order did not make it mandatory for any principal officer to be consulted before a vote of no confidence was passed on him.
“I think we have a duty or I have a duty to also educate Nigerians on what actually happened. I am one of the proponents of following due diligence and the rule of law and I feel I have a duty to also say on behalf of this Senate that what we did yesterday (Tuesday) was in accordance with our rules and there was no breach of either the constitution or the rules of this chamber.
“I stood on this floor several times to speak about the importance of following our rules. A lot of people could have different meanings to different things, but I want to put it on record that what we did is in accordance with the provisions of this order,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed door at the Presidential Villa, declaring afterwards that there was no crisis in the Senate.
Fielding questions from correspondents after the meeting, he said the replacement of Senator Ndume with Senator Lawan as Senate leader on Tuesday had not caused any crisis in the upper chambers.
He was reacting to suggestions that the change might have opened up another round of leadership crisis similar to the one that greeted the election of the present National Assembly leadership.
“There is no crisis in the National Assembly. Things like this do happen and, as you said, the institution is bigger than everybody and I am sure that he (Ndume) and everybody else will always work for the interest of the institution and for the interest of the country. Everything is calm, solid and fine,” he said.
Asked to react to Ndume’s allegation that he was not aware of the plan to replace him, Saraki replied: “I am sure you have not read his statement today. He has made a different statement today.”
On whether he had not merely sacrificed the former Senate leader over the APC crisis, Saraki said “do I look like someone that do things like that?”
The Senate President had explained that he was at the Presidential Villa to see the president over ways to keep the government going.
APC senators woo Ekweremadu to dump PDP
It emerged on Wednesday that a lobby team of the ruling APC has been unleashed on the Ekweremadu to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The indication was further reinforced at the Wednesday’s plenary when Senator Marafa openly pleaded with Senator Ekweremadu to dump the PDP and join the APC.
While moving a motion to adopt the votes and proceedings of Tuesday during the Wednesday’s plenary, Marafa added an addendum to the motion and said it was high time the deputy Senate president crossed the carpet to the ruling party.
His call was further reinforced by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who in seconding the motion by Marafa, which was originally for the adoption of the votes and proceedings, stressed the need for Ekweremadu to dump the PDP and join the APC.
The push for Ekweremadu to defect, however, did not go down well with lawmakers of the PDP, as Senator Sonni Ogbuoji took the floor and declared that the “joke” was uncalled for.
He insisted that the deputy Senate president was not done with the PDP.
While ruling on the motion, Ekweremadu asked that the Senate should remove the aspect calling for his defection from the votes and proceedings before he would put the question.
The Senate, therefore, voted to withdraw the call for defection, paving the way for the votes and proceedings to be adopted.