When will Ekweremadu sit on Saraki’s seat?
Tongues are still wagging over the abrupt shutting down of the Senate last Wednesday by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the peak of ministerial nominees screening.
Saraki had adjourned the sitting to enable him attend to his case at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where he is being tried on 13 count charges bordering on false asset declaration.
Constitutionally, the Deputy Senate President presides over the chamber in the absence of the Senate President.
Section 53 (1a) of the 1999 Constitution is explicit on the office of the Deputy Senate President. It states thus: “In the case of the Senate, the President of the Senate shall preside, and in his absence, the Deputy Senate President shall preside.”
Similarly, the Senate Standing Orders 2015 was also clear on the position of a Deputy Senate President. Order 27 of the said document read thus: “In the absence of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President shall perform all the duties and functions of the President of the Senate.”
In retrospect, since his emergence on June 9th this year, Saraki has been sitting tight on the Senate President’s seat. He has always been around to preside over the affairs of the Upper Chamber.
Our correspondent reports that last Wednesday could have been the opportunity for Ekweremadu to man the driver’s seat following the case of Saraki at the CCT.
However, the opportunity to preside over the Senate slipped off Ekweremadu who defeated Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) to clinch the position.
Although Ekweremadu polled 54 and Ndume got 20 votes at the June 9th election, it was widely believed that his emergence was a reward to the PDP Senators for their support to the candidature of Saraki.
Before the adjournment, the caucuses of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met differently where it was reportedly agreed that the Red Chamber should not be presided over by Ekweremadu, in view of the ongoing hearing on ministerial confirmation.
A PDP senator in
an Senator Ike Ekweremadu made profit from the division in the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Upper Chamber to emerge as the number two senator in the country. Our correspondent looks into how Ekweremadu, a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is faring as the Deputy Senate President. interview nothing situation.
“No, the Deputy Senate president has not presided over at the chamber because Saraki had always been around. And for last Wednesday’s case, it was a unanimous decision that we should adjourn our sitting for a day,” he said.
But one of the principal officers of the Red Chamber said Ekweremadu would always find himself in a tight corner.
“As an opposition, his emergence could be described as a very odd situation but a realistic situation that we found ourselves in.
“The most uncomfortable part of it is that when the PDP was in power for 16 years, they didn’t provide room for somebody in the opposition to occupy such position. But I think the PDP is trying to eat its cake and have it which to me is very, very odd.
“We are waiting to see how it works but it is a very odd situation. If I’m to be in the shoes of Ekweremadu, I will not contest for the seat of the Deputy Senate President because how would he be the Deputy Senate President in a government that they are minority?
“The situation is odd as it doesn’t fit in properly because you cannot separate the politics of the party from the position he is occupying.
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with was the There are certain things that the government wants to implement in the interest of the party, so he will always find himself in a tight corner. As I said, we will see how the situation works,” one of the high ranking senators said.
Assessing the situation, a Professor of Political Economy and Politics of Development at the Bayero University Kano (BUK), Habu Fagge said Saraki did the right thing by adjourning the sitting.
“By adjourning the plenary, Saraki has not done anything wrong, in fact, he did the right thing because if he had allowed Ekweremadu to chair the sitting on that day, it could have led to a bigger challenge.
“For instance, if he presides over and Amaechi was disqualified, it could have given credence to the allegation that he (Saraki) had decamped to the PDP or was supporting PDP underground. The senators are united, it is Saraki’s party that is not united,” he said, in a phone interview.
Speaking on the adjournment of sitting, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume said Ekweremadu was not allowed to take charge of affairs at the Senate, last Wednesday, in order to avoid hiccup in the ongoing ministerial nominees screening.
“We are screening APC ministerial nominees of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And there are issues surrounding it that we don’t want any other issue out of it again. The presiding officer is the Senate President who started the screening and we said we would continue after a day off.
“If you look at the constitution, it is not ‘must’. It is just like when the president
Observers of the Senate said Ekweremadu, who has been in the Upper Chamber since 2003 presided over the sittings of the Senate on many occasions when he was the deputy to Senator David Mark, who reigned for eight years.
The terrain at that time, according to observers, was suitable for Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West) to easily step into Mark’s shoes in his absence, in view of the fact that his party occupied majority of the ‘Red’ seats at that time.
In the 8th Senate, APC has 58 senators while PDP has 49.
However, the fact that a senator from the minority party found his way to be the number two at the hallowed chamber has remained a development which many people are yet to come to terms with.
“I challenge anyone to tell me anywhere in the world where an opposition party with fewer members will end up producing a deputy senate president or one of the principal officers of the Senate. This happened in Nigeria because of the knowledge, capacity, vision as well as team leadership which (Uche) Secondus and the NWC have provided,” said Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP.
Sen. Bukola Saraki
Sen. Ike Ekweremadu