Buhari intervenes in Senate dispute

It was gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari has invited Senator Ahmed Lawan’s Unity Forum, which is contesting the election of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President , for a meeting today.
“It is all to save the party from being factionalised,” an All Progressives Congress (APC) source said.

The meeting is expected to resolve the crisis, which deepened yesterday as:
•the APC National Working Committee called off a proposed visit by Senator Saraki; and
•some members of the Senate discovered that the chamber breached its rules in electing Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

It was learnt that instead of using division as contained in Rule 3 (1) (e)(i, ii, iii) and (f), the Senate opted for an Open Secret Ballot system, which is strange to the chamber.

For violating its rules, the Senate may ask Ekweremadu to step aside and conduct elections into the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate.

Rule 3 (1) (e) (i, ii, iii) and (f), reads:
“When only two Senators-elect are nominated and seconded as President of the Senate, the election shall be conducted as follows:
(i) the Senate shall divide with the proposers and seconders as tellers.
(ii) Voting shall be conducted by the Clerks-at-the-Table using the Division List of the Senate with the Tellers in attendance. The Clerk of the Senate shall submit the result of the division to the Clerk of the National Assembly.
(iii) the Clerk shall then declare the senator-elect who has received the greater number of votes elected as President of Senate.
“(f) When more than two senators-elect are nominated and seconded as President of the Senate, the division shall be conducted in the manner prescribed in Section (e) and the Senator-elect who has received a majority of votes shall be the President of the Senate.”
Also, Rule 3(4) says: “The procedure for the election of the Deputy President of the Senate shall be the same as that of the President of the Senate.”

A high-ranking Senator, who spoke in confidence, said: “By every definition of the rules of the Senate, Ekweremadu was not properly elected. He may need to step aside and allow for a fresh election into that office.

“The alternative is to leave the court to decide his fate. This might lead to many litigations which can hinder the activities of the Senate.

“This is the fresh challenge at hand. They claimed that the Seventh Senate amended the rules to allow for Open Secret Ballot but there is no record to show for it. We cannot accept any under-the-table amendment of rules for the sake of political exigency.”

It was revealed that there might be a burden on the President of the Senate to dump Ekweremadu for an APC candidate.

“I think once Ekweremadu steps aside, he will have to recontest for the post with an APC candidate in a united APC Senate.”

“This will pose a challenge to the alliance between Saraki and the South-East/ South-South caucus. This is going to be an acid test for Saraki to prove that he is still a loyal member of APC or an ally of PDP,” the source added.

Buhari, said another source, will focus on a likely reconciliation of all parties and how to keep the APC in the Senate united.

“I think a win-win formula might be designed by the Presidency to save the party from any further embarrassment. You know, there are still some principal officers to be elected for the Senate.
“The development may lead to an enlarged session of the APC caucus in the Senate with the President and the leadership of the party,” he said, pleading not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media.

But the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress yesterday called off a proposed courtesy call by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Although the party initially fixed the courtesy call by Saraki for 1pm, the session was abruptly cancelled because “it is inconsistent with the APC’s position on the outcome of the election into the Office of the Senate President”.

“There was no way we can allow Saraki to pay courtesy call on APC leadership, which had rejected his victory as not in line with the wish of the party. If the party resolves the issue at hand, it can formally welcome Saraki.”

But the National Working Committee of APC threw its doors open to the Unity Forum of Sen. Ahmed Lawan to hear “its side of the election for Senate presidency and the aftermath.”
The party, however, barred members of the Unity Forum from speaking with the press on the meeting.



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