Senate reconvening: PDP, APC Senators prepare for showdown

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There is palpable fear of a rowdy session as the National Assembly reconvenes tomorrow or Wednesday to deliberate on the 2019 election budget.

The fear being expressed is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators, allegedly with the help of the executive, might spring a surprise when the National Assembly reconvenes by forcibly removing Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

Yusuff Lasun, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, disclosed last week that the House would reconvene on Tuesday or Wednesday to approve the N242 billion budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 general elections as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The National Assembly is on recess and it was expected to resume September 25.

However, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Saraki, told Daily Independent that he did not have information to the effect that the National Assembly would reconvene on Tuesday.

When asked how prepared are the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) senators if the APC senators spring surprises when they reconvene, Olaniyonu said, “Let them reconvene; when they reconvene, we will see”.

Speaking with media, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim said the only surprise they were expecting from senators clamouring for the removal of Saraki was to muster two-third majority, adding that anything short of that would not be acceptable to the whole world.

The senator, who is the Senate Committee Chairman on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions, in a text message said: “The only surprise we are expecting now is for them to gather the 2/3 as required by the constitution. We are sure the whole world will not accept another.”

Senator Ibrahim, in a joint statement with Isa Hama Misau, the Senate Committee Chairman on Navy, about two weeks ago, had warned his colleagues in the APC not to foment any trouble when the Senate resumes, saying Senate President Saraki will never resign from the position.

The senators had warned those clamouring for Saraki’s removal that they would meet their match if they tried anything illegal, even with all the deployment of security forces which they might have been assured of by the executive arm of government.

“We will use our strength to defend the position of the present leadership of the Senate under Dr. Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

“We will defend democracy and rule of law against the pretenders. We will show that every senator represents different constituencies in our country,” they had said.

Recall that the APC, the presidency and, of late, the National Chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, have been spitting fire in their insistence that Senate President Saraki, and his Deputy, Ekweremadu, must resign or be impeached.

Their argument has been that the opposition PDP should not lead the National Assembly, where the APC is the ruling party and majority in the Senate.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Olaniyonu, on Friday, Saraki – while responding to Oshiomhole’s impeachment threat – said Oshiomhole was dreaming, adding that those planning the impeachment would need 73 senators, that is a two-third of the Senate, to lawfully remove him, and he maintained that they would never get that number in the present eight Senate.

Meanwhile, it emerged at the weekend that the failure of the APC senators to remove Saraki, despite the reported cover provided by security agencies, was aided by information from APC senators to their PDP colleagues.

The Department of State Services (DSS) had laid siege to the National Assembly on Tuesday on the orders of the sacked Director General of DSS, Lawal Musa Daura.

The siege, according to sources, was aimed at forestalling an impending breakdown of law and order in the legislature even as opposition lawmakers insisted that the claim was not true.

The opposition maintained that the siege was at the instance of their APC counterparts who wanted to effect a leadership change via the back door.

Speaking to newsmen in a telephone chat over the weekend, a PDP lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Ayo Yusuf, from Kogi State, revealed that his party’s caucus was able to thwart the plan due to information made available by APC senators.

He said those senators were strongly opposed to the idea of impeachment and were calling their PDP counterparts to brief them, asking that they remain resolute.

“Let me tell you something, even when they were meeting, some of the senators were calling to tell us what was going on and how some of them opposed it, and were even telling us to be resolute,” he revealed.

He added: “Even on the other side, it’s not everybody who is in support of what they are trying to do.

“There are APC senators who opposed it at their meetings, who called PDP colleagues to say that we should be resolute.

“So, it’s not everybody that wants to go into such madness, even in the House.

“It’s simply the desperation on the part of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who wants to impress the president that he’s working, and some of the leaders.”

Asked to contextualise a political climate where things are done irrespective of what the law says as far as issues of impeachment are concerned, the economist-turned legislator said: “We are ready for anything that will crop up on that day. But in a legitimate sitting, anything cannot just happen.

“Look! All the shenanigans are just to impress the paymaster, to impress the man there that ‘we are doing something’.
“Democracy is a game of number and you cannot give what you don’t have, so we are not bothered at all.

“And I can assure you that nobody, none of them, will do anything. Because at that time, it’s not about noise making, but about showing what you have, show your number. Do they think that it’s easy to impeach? It’s not a tea party.

“It’s when people use the privilege of others not being available, like they did in Benue where eight members were escorted into the chamber, while others were prevented from going in. So that was exactly what they wanted to do in Abuja.

“The idea was to escort 14 or how many of them into the chamber and stop others from coming in, but unfortunately for them, we got wind of it and came very early to forestall that. So I’m not in any way bothered. We know them, they are our colleagues.”

Pressed further to gauge the mood of lawmakers, particularly the PDP caucus heading into the session on Tuesday, “There will be nothing like change of leadership, not in the Senate, not even in the House of Reps.”

“You can’t give what you don’t have. They don’t have the numbers to impeach, that was why they wanted to come through the back door.

“If they have the number, they don’t need to make noise; just gather your signatures and walk into the chamber when we resume. But they don’t have the number, which is why they adopted this ‘Jankara approach’.”

Also, in a telephone chat with our correspondent, Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP, Cross River) expressed the desire to see the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, use the abridged session to announce his defection to the PDP.

The lawmaker, who urged the speaker not to have any fear for his seat, argued that the APC, though, having a slim majority does not have the two-third majority to unseat the speaker, should the latter decide to dump their party.

“They said they have the numbers to impeach the speaker and change leadership, so let’s wait, when we reconvene, we will know if they have the numbers that can remove the speaker,” he said.

Asked if the PDP caucus would move to resist any plan to impeach the speaker should he decide to defect, even if it means lobbying other opposition lawmakers to join forces, Jarigbe said there would be no such thing since the APC did not even have the strength to muster a two-third majority.

“As PDP caucus, our position on the speaker is sacrosanct. And I can say that, too, to the PDP caucus in the Senate. We are all united on this.”

Daily Independent sought to know if there was any confirmation that Speaker Yakubu Dogara would be defecting or remain in the APC since the latter was still in the majority, Jarigbe couldn’t confirm.

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