Thursday, 18 October 2018

Saraki,Akpabio In War Of Words In Senate Over Sitting Arrangement,Resigns As Minority Leader

The Senate on Wednesday had a rowdy session as they argued about sitting arrangement.

The argument ensued when the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, refused to allow former Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, to contribute to a Point of Order raised by Senator Bassey Akpan.

Akpan had raised a point of order accusing the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom of plotting to cause chaos in the 2019 general election.

Saraki refused to acknowledge Akpabio’s contribution, saying he would not be allowed to speak unless he did so from his seat.

He said, “Former Minority Leader, you know you cannot speak from there. Go to your seat, when you get to your seat, I will recognise you,” he said.

The Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, was, however, not comfortable with Saraki’s position, and stood up to defend Akpabio.

He said, “As it stands today in this chamber, there is no organised sitting arrangement. If he decides to sit there, let him.

“There is no microphone there. Let us not take the Panadol for his headache. Let me advise that even though we have only six, seven months to go, let’s do what is right.”

In the course of his comment, the lawmakers began to talk at random, thereby throwing the chamber into a rowdy session.

The lawmakers refused to calm down in spite of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu’s intervention.

The situation, however, became relatively calm when Akpabio stood up to explain that the seat was allocated to him by the Clerk of the Senate.

“The seat was allocated to me by the Clerk and I expect that you were notified. The embarrassment I got today was uncalled for.

“I demand an apology, not just written, but verbal too,” Akpabio said.

Meanwhile,Senator Godswill Akpabio, has challenged other senators who have defected from one party to another to quit their leadership positions in the chamber.

Akpabio, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress, challenged other defectors to emulate him with his resignation as the Minority Leader after leaving the opposition party.

He gave the challenge while answering questions from journalists after the plenary on Wednesday.

The resignation challenge, however, appeared to be in a veiled reference to President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who also defected from the APC to the PDP and is the only one left in the leadership of the Senate to have changed political parties.

Akpabio said, “I moved from the PDP to the APC, to make sure that this government works before the election. It should not be all about the election; it should be first about Nigeria. Let others also move in the national interest.

“I did not just move like that, I was a (Minority) Leader in the Senate. I resigned my position in order to show that, yes, I meant business. Let others who also have positions in the Senate who wish to also cross carpet from one political party to another also resign their positions and take a cue from what Godswill Akpabio did.”

The APC caucus, which had insisted on remaining the majority despite the defections, had asked Saraki to resign as Senate President or be impeached. The impeachment plot has, however,  been suspended.

Akpabio stated that the sitting arrangement in the Senate chamber must be restructured to reflect the party configuration.

He said, “There is the need for us to restructure the Senate. Behind where I sat today, my very good friend, distinguished Senator (Ubali) Shittu; it was after the little noise in the Senate that he told me that he was now in the PDP and I said ‘why are you sitting here?’ Don’t you think there is the need for us to restructure the Senate? The PDP will sit on a side, APGA will sit where they are supposed to, and the ruling party which still forms the majority will still sit where they are supposed to sit.

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