By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — THERE was drama, yesterday, as senators took a decisive step to end the deep-seated leadership crisis ravaging the Senate. At the resumed plenary, 34 Senators elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and 47 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, senators passed a vote of confidence in Senate President Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and the entire leadership of the Senate.
The Senate also asked the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, DSS and other security agencies not to allow themselves to be used to harass, intimidate or blackmail the entire Senate, senators and their spouses.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion of vote of confidence in principal officers of the Senate by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East) in line with orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended).
The motion, which was seconded by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), was co-sponsored by 79 other senators. The development may have put to an end the lingering political tug-of-war in the Senate between the supporters of Senator Saraki and Senator Ahmed Lawan, who was the APC national hierarchy’s choice for the Senate presidency.
Interestingly, some core pro-Senator Ahmed Lawan’s supporters in the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, like Senators Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central); Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West); Monsurat Sunmonu (APC, Oyo Central); Olanrewaju Tejuoso (APC, Ogun Central) and Bukar Abba Ibrahim (APC, Yobe East) were also co-sponsors of the motion.
Other APC senators who co-authored the motion were Adamu Aliero, Ibrahim Gobir, Mohammed Ohiare, David Umaru, Tijjani Yahaya Kaura, Ahmed Rufai Sani, Sabo Mohammed, Mallam Wakili, Ibn Nara’ Allah, Danjuma Goje, Francis Alimikhena, Salihu Egye, Ibrahim Abdullahi and Binta Masi Garba among others.
No dissenting voice
When the Senate President called for votes on the motion, there was no dissenting voice from senators who have been opposing the election of Saraki and Ekweremadu.
Even Senator Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), Senator Ahmed Lawan and Senator George Akume (Benue North-West), who were also present, did not object.
While moving the vote of confidence motion, Senator Anyanwu noted with dismay “the continued harassment of the Senate and senators, the National Assembly management and spouses of senators by security agencies of government.
“Determined to continue to perform its constitutional duties and responsibilities without fear or favour;
“Further determined to focus on matters of interest and importance to the ordinary people of Nigeria in view of the enormous challenges facing the nation;
“Considering the sustained interference in the internal affairs of the Senate by detractors and media propaganda against the Senate and Senators by selfish politicians;
“The Senate, hereby, resolves to pass a vote of confidence on: (a) the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki; ( b) the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; (c) the entire Senate leadership as presently constituted;
“To call on the Nigeria Police Force and all other security agencies in Nigeria not to allow themselves to be used by any person or persons to harass, intimidate or blackmail the Senate, senators and or their spouses.”
We can’t afford to fail Nigerians — Saraki
Senate President Saraki, in his welcome address to senators from the four-week recess, urged the lawmakers to watch what he described as mind-boggling leakages in the nation’s oil receipt, adding that oil theft cannot become an acceptable part of the nation’s oil business.
He continued: “It is expected that the recess would have in no small measure helped us consolidate the stability of the National Assembly. Now it is time to move as one house in one direction to fulfil the promise we made to our constituencies that gave us our mandate to deliver real change.
“Our country is passing through a difficult time. We cannot afford to watch the mind-boggling leakages in our oil receipt to go on. This Senate is in tandem with Mr. President on this and is determined to turn every stone and shift every rock to ensure that all revenues due to the country from oil are recovered. We are not the only oil producing country in the world; oil theft cannot therefore become an acceptable part of our oil business.
“Furthermore, Nigerians are tired of the inadequacies in the power sector and want to see a reinvigorated power sector capable of delivering enough energy to power the new Nigerian economy. Our people dream to see a more open economy, they want to see legislative instruments that will help to open and stimulate private sector investment in infrastructure development, and enhance the ease of doing business in the country.
“We have our work cut out for us, we cannot afford to frolic. Nigerians did not give us our mandate to come and pursue leadership, their mandate was for us to pursue governance and bring solutions to their burning issues. It is time we remind ourselves of the solemn promise to deliver to our people real change.
“Our revenue profile has taken a great hit with the economic realities we face today. Aside the drop in the oil receipt, we have seen revenues plummet due to oil thefts, indiscriminate grants of numerous import duty waivers, concessions and grants. Nigerians want to see the National Assembly tackle these obscenities in our revenue systems as it denies our people the right to good governance.”
Worsening Boko Haram activities worrying
On insecurity, the Senate President said the Senate was worried over the resurgence of the activities of Boko Haram and some other criminal elements. He said the Senate will send a delegation to visit Nigerian troops on the battle line and some of the internally displaced persons in the North-East.
Saraki said: “In recent times, we have seen resurgence in the activities of Boko Haram and some other criminal elements in our society leading to the death of many of our citizens. We cannot continue to let senseless groups cause untimely death to our citizens without hindrance. This is another sad addition to the cocktail of security challenges we can ill-afford at this time.
“In the coming days, I will constitute a high powered Senate delegation to visit our troops on the battle line and some of our internally displaced persons in the North-East to have a first hand appreciation of the challenges, the suffering and plight that has befallen our people in the area. Soon afterwards, we shall, working together with the House, develop concrete steps towards the rehabilitation and renewal of the battered local economy of the North-East.
“Make no mistake about it, the aim of these militant groups is simple, to test our resolve and disintegrate our unity. But let me reiterate the readiness and willingness of the National Assembly to support and work with President Muhammadu Buhari to comprehensively rout Boko Haram. We join Mr. President in saying ‘that we will defeat terrorism in our country and region, because we have the will to win this fight.’ Our resolve is collective, we urge all friends of Nigeria, including the United States and the entire international community, to join us.”