Senate President Bukola Saraki has been accused of lying that the All Progressives Congress (APC) forwarded its preferred names of principal officers to the senate only after the APC zonal caucuses met to nominate their own candidates.
The APC leadership had written to the senate to nominate Ahmad Lawan as senate majority leader, George Akume as deputy majority leader, Olusola Adeyeye as chief whip and Abu
Ibrahim deputy chief whip. But on Thursday, Saraki announced Ali Ndume as majority leader, Bala Na’Allah as deputy majority leader and Francis Alimikhena as deputy chief whip after the various APC senate caucuses nominated them, subsequently claiming that his hands were tied .
On Monday, led by Barnabas Gemade, the Unity Forum senators loyal to Lawan wrote John Oyegun, national chairman of the party, to discredit Saraki’s claim, saying: “Our attention
has been drawn to the letter written by the President of the Senate to our party, the APC, which was published in some Newspapers on Saturday the 27th of June 2015 in response to the nomination of principal officers earlier
forwarded by the party to the Senate President and we wish to state the facts of the matter as follows:
“In the said letter, the Senate President alleged that – ‘The said letter was received after various APC zonal caucuses had taken their decisions to nominate candidates as principal
officers of the Senate in line with parliamentary convention and extant provisions of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended (Chapter VI:
Rules 28,29 & 31 refers). This was a follow up of the prior APC Senate caucus meeting held on 23rd June 2015′.
“We wish to state that it is not true that the so-called zonal caucuses, which do not exist in the standing orders of the Senate, acted before the letter from the party was received by Senator Bukola Saraki. This is so, as Senator Suleiman
Nazif announced during a meeting of all APC senators on Tuesday 23rd of June 2015, that the party had already forwarded the names of those who are to lead the APC caucus to the Office of the Senate President. “Thus, the letter got to the Office of the Senate President a day before the so-called zonal meeting was said to have been arranged. To the best of our knowledge, no such meetings of the zonal caucuses ever took place but probably a meeting of a clique of the supporters of the Senate President.
“It is to be noted that Senator Gbenga Ashafa on Wednesday the 24th of June 2015 raised a point of order in the Senate Chamber asking the Senate President to announce the names of the
APC Principal Officers of the Senate as
submitted by the party. Senator Bukola Saraki overruled.”
They argued that that democratic convention, as a matter of fact, conferred on the party the right to appoint those who are to lead its
caucus in any parliament, as they are those that shall lead and galvanise members of such party in the parliament towards the actualisation of the manifesto of the party.
“Hence, Chapter VI: Rules 28,29 and 31 of the Senate standing orders referred to by the Senate President do not confer on the so-called zonal caucuses to appoint the APC Principal officers as they state as follows:
“Order 28: There shall be a Majority Leader of the Senate. The Majority Leader shall be a Senator nominated from the party with thebhighest number of Senators.
“Order 29: There shall be a Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate. The Deputy Majority Leader shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of seats in the
“Order 31: There shall be a Chief Whip of the Senate. The Chief Whip shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of seats in the Senate. “We want to draw the attention of the party that the names of those announced by the Senate President to lead the APC Caucus in the Senate
is in contravention of Order 3 Rule 2 of the Senate Standing Rules, which stipulates as follows; NOMINATION OF SENATORS TO SERVE
AS PRESIDING OFFICERS AND APPOINTMENTS OF PRINCIPAL OFFICERS AND OTHER OFFICERS OF THE SENATE OR ON ANY PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RANKING OF SENATORS.”
They noted that in determining the ranking of senators, the order to be considered are:
(i) senators returning based on numbers of times
(ii) senators who have been
members of house of representatives and
(iii) senators elected as senators for the first time.
“It is important to note that those nominated by the party are not only the highest ranked in their respective zones but the entire APC caucus:-
“1. Majority Leader: Senator Ahmed Lawan (Two-term member of the House of Representatives and serving third term in the Senate) North-East; against Senator Ali Ndume who was announced by the Senate President that did two terms in the House of Representatives and is currently a second-term
“2. Chief Whip: Senator Adesola Adeyeye (One-term member of the House of Representatives and second-term Senator) South-West
“3. Deputy Majority Leader: Senator George Akume (third term in the Senate) North-Central
“4. Deputy Chief Whip: Senator Abu Ibrahim (3rd term in the Senate) North-West; as against Senator Bala Ibn Na Allah who was announced by the Senate President who did two terms in
the House of Representatives and is a first-term Senator.
“We strongly believe that the nominees of the party were arrived at in accordance with the provisions of the Senate standing orders.”