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No crisis in Senate – Spokesperson

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Red chambers of the Nigerian Senate

…Says two Senators can move a Motion on Vote of Confidence

By Henry Umoru

CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, All Progressives Congress, APC, Nasarawa North yesterday said there is no crack or crisis in the present 9th Senate.

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Answering questions from Journalists yesterday in Abuja on why the move to have a vote of confidence in the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan was stood down for another Legislative day and considering the small number of Senators who co- sponsored the motion, Akwashiki said that even two Senators can sponsor a motion.

Senator Godiya Akwashiki, said, “There is nothing to worry about in the vote of confidence in the leadership of the Senate which was stood down on Wednesday during plenary. It is a vote of confidence and not a vote of no confidence.

“A vote of confidence is moved when members of a group are in support or in total agreement with the leadership. I see no big deal in the motion being stood down. I want us to exercise patience and wait for the day that the motion would be mentioned on the floor of the Senate.

” I won’t speak further on it because it is a vote of confidence. I would speak more if it was a vote of no confidence and the Senate president decided to use his power as presiding officer to stand down the motion. Those who are moving the vote of confidence are in total support of the leadership,  so it is not a serious issue.

“On the 36 senators comprising 25 APC and 11 PDP members,  listed as co-sponsors of the motion,  is a normal thing. All of us are in total agreement of the motion but we cannot all have our names in the motion. If all of us should put our names on the list,  then it’s no longer a motion. Now that the motion has been brought before the Senate, every senator would have the opportunity to speak on it. The number of sponsors does not matter.

“The vote of confidence motion has nothing to do with any crisis in the Senate. There is no crisis. Our loyalty to the leadership is total and complete. It is even possible for two senators to move motion on vote of confidence.”

Recall that moves by the Senate to pass a Vote of Confidence in the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan  and the leadership of the 9th Upper Chamber on Tuesday suffered a major setback as the motion to that effect.

According to the motion, the lawmakers were to pass a vote of confidence in the leadership of the 9th National Assembly and particularly commend the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and urge all Senators to endeavor to sustain the present goodwill of the Senate  under the present leadership.

The motion was also to call on Nigerians, the Federal Government under the leadership of President MuhamaduBuhari to support the 9th National Assembly in its determination to pass legislations that will impact meaningfully on Nigerians and take it to the next level.

The motion which was the first one as one of the motions to be discussed,  was dropped as it was not taken, just as it was gathered that it could not scale through because of the number of Co- sponsors.

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According to a source, sensing danger that the motion may be defeated, it was stood down for another Legislative day, an indication that some Senators may not be comfortable with the present leadership style.

A source said that some Senators were not aware of such a motion and there was the need to go to the drawing board and get more senators to sign as co- sponsors.

The motion titled, ” Vote of Confidence on the leadership of the National Assembly” was sponsored by the immediate Governor of Borno State and Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Kashim Shettima, All Progressives Congress, APC; Borno Central.

The motion was co- sponsored by 35 other Senators, with a breakdown of 25 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC and 11 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Prominent among the Co- Sponsors include former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South; Senator Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central; Senators James Manager, PDP, Delta South; George Sekibo, PDP, Rivers East; Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP, Delta North; EmmanueEmmanuel Bwacha, Deputy Minority Leader, PDP, Taraba South; Bassey Albert Akpan, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East; Aliyu Wammako, APC, Sokoto North and Gabriel Suswam, PDP, Benue North East.

Others are Senators Rochas Okorocha, APC, Imo West; Ibrahim Gaidam, APC, Yobe East; Bello Mandiya, APC, Katsina South m; Olubunmi Adetunmbi, APC, Ekiti North; Ibikunle Amosun, APC, Ogun Central; Adamu Aliero, APC, Kebbi Central; Uba Sani, APC, Kaduna Central; Jibrin  Isah, APC, Kogi East, Shuiabu Lau, PDP, Taraba North; Abdulfatai Buhari, APC, Oyo North; Sadiq Umar, APC, Kwara North, among others.

To stand the motion till another Legislative day, Deputy Majority Whip; Senator Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, APC, Niger North who acted as Senate Leader yesterday during plenary, moved a motion that the motion be dropped and was supported by the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda, PDP, Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

In the motion, Senator Shettima said that “The Senate:Observes with satisfaction, the stability and unity of purpose witnessed by the 9th National Assembly under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan since its inauguration on Tuesday, 11th June, 2019;

“Notes with much satisfaction the modest achievement of the 9th National Assembly in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility with much diligence and candour as exhibited by the Senate through:

“The realignment of the Budget Calendar to January-December budget circle through the timely passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill on Thursday, 5th December, 2019;

“The timely passage of the Finance Bill 2019 to drive the Fiscal Reforms as proposed for the 2020 Financial year;

“The timely passage of the Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to reposition the procurement process; The timely passage of the Production Sharing Contract Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 given its potential to impact on the revenue base of the Federal Government.

“Timely consideration/Screening and confirmation of Ministerial Nominees to ensure immediate commencement and implementation of government policies in line with this administration agenda;

“Impressed by the existing cooperation among all Senators and indeed members of the National Assembly in the interest of the nation and the improved Executive – Legislative relation; and Further impressed by the selfless and patriotic leadership of the 9th National Assembly generally to work for Nigeria and Nigerians in line with its legislative Agenda.”

Recall that in the heat of crisis at the  beginning of the eight Senate led by the former President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, 84 Senators had on September 28, 2015, passed a  vote of confidence in  Saraki, his then deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu  and the entire Senate leadership of the Senate.

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Also recall that the  vote of confidence was sequel to a motion by then Senator David Umaru, APC, Niger East who raised the point of order calling for a vote of confidence on the senate leadership.

The 28th September, 2015   vote of confidence in  Saraki which was the second in two months after the first one in July, came from a motion sponsored by Senator David Umaru and seconded by then Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, another APC member from Zamfara State, and co-sponsored by 81 other senators.‎

The vote of confidence which was in pursuant to Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Order 2015 was signed then  by 48 senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and 35 senators elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC.

According to Umaru,  the senate would not entertain unwarranted embarrassment that was being served on the senate leadership and they would not succumb to cheap blackmail.

Moving the vote of Confidence, Senator Umaru had said, ” Senate Notes that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended guarantees the separation of powers and the Independence of the legislative arm of government.

” Further notes that the legislative arm of Government remains the mainstay of democratic governance, liberty, freedom, fair hearing, check sand balances and above all the protection of human rights of the citizenry.

” Determined to focus on matters of national interest and importance to the ordinary people of Nigeria and other issues that will enhance their safety, livelihood, social and political well being.

” Further determined to continue to perform irs constitutional duties and responsibilities in defence of democracy and the rule of law for the betterment and development of our nation, Nigeria.

” Notes with dismay, the attempt and continued interference in the internal affairs of the Senate by detractors and media propaganda against senators, the senate and its leadership by selfish politicians.

” Considering the on- going unwarranted embarrassment and aspersions being cast on the senate and its leadership.

” Determined that the Senate shall not allow itself to be distracted, deterred or succumb to cheap blackmail in the course of carrying out its constitutional responsibilities by any individual or group of people under any pretence or guise for personal political interest.”

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” The senate hereby resolves to pass a vote of confidence on the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki; the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and the entire Senate leadership as presently constituted.

” To call on innocent Nigerians, groups and  political associations not to allow themselves to be used by any person or persons to harass, into irate or blackmail the Senate, Senators and its leadership.”

Also recall that soon after the vote of Confidence, then Senator Kabiru Marafa APC, Zamfara Central for over twenty minutes became untrollable as he made efforts to  raise a point of order challenging the vote of confidence in the Senate President.

Marafa in protesting against the confidence vote said he was unfairly treated by Saraki who he noted deliberately refused to identify him after having raised his (Marafa) hands several times on the floor to express his opinion on the matter, saying, ” I cams under this point of Order before the Senate took the decision, but you refused me.”

But as Marafa continued to speak in anger against Saraki’s ruling,citing section 53(5) of the Standing Order which reads, ” Reference shall not be made to any matter which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”

But Senate President Saraki insisted that Marafa should read 53(6) which reads: ” It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion during the current session except upon a substantive motion for rescission.”

But when Marafa was still shouting, the Senate President ruled him out of Order, but this did not stop him as he was still on top of his voice, raining   abuse words on the Senate.

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The action by the Senate president thereafter  angered Senator Marafa the more who reacted angrily leading to a rowdy session on the floor of the senate.

Vanguard

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