Despite efforts to calm frayed nerves at the Senate, the plot against leadership of the upper legislative chamber, there are indications that the war is not over.
During the week, the plots against the Senate leadership headed by Obong Godswill Akpabio, Senate President, thickened, with former governors among the lawmakers teaming up for one cause of effecting a change of leadership.
The former governors are upset and specifically accused the Senate President of undercutting and undermining them since his election in June 2023.
One of the former governors told Saturday Sun that the current disquiet in the Senate came about because of the leadership’s failute to unite the legislative arm.
He said that when Akpabio moved against lawmakers who didn’t support him when he ran for office, he sowed the seed of discord.
The lawmaker said the Senate president ignored existing practices in selecting principal officers, chairmen of ranking committees and contributions during plenary.
According to him, “political parties usually determine who are to be appointed principal officers of the Senate. That’s the practice and the Senaye President knows this.
“Akpabio is a product of that arrangement when he because Mimority Leader. He was nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party them.”
“In 2019, the same thing happened. It was the APC and the PDP that nominated the eight principal officers of the Senate and Ahmad Lawan announced them.
“But as soon as Akpabio took over, he decided to come up with his style. Instead of meeting with the various caucuses of the senatorial districts and the leadership of political parties, he went to meet President Tinubu at the Villa. Those who parade themselves as APC principal officers in the Senate, were selected by the Villa and Akpabio’s kitchen cabinet.
“APC and the PDP protested and Akpabio ignored them. For instance, in the PDP, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who is the most ranking in the Senate, was ignored by Akpabio.
“Instead, a minister in the administration of President Tinubu decided who got any position in the opposition caucus of the Senate. The leadership of the PDP also protested, but Akpabio ignored them.
“In the South East, ranking senators were ignored and a first time lawmaker was named a principal officer. That was very strange. Lawmakers protested and Akpabio didn’t listen.”
Another former governor told our correspondent that Akpabio again flouted other existing norms in naming heads of committees.
The senator said a selection committee, predominantly made up of principal officers, ought to have been set up to draw up a list of committee chairmen.
He said lawmakers were shocked when Akpabio reeled out names of committee chairmen and named first time lawmakers as heads of Grade A committees.
The aggrieved lawmaker said neither of the former governors nor the immediate-past President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, was named chairman of a Grade A committee.
“Some of us have spent four terms in the Senate since we left office as governors. But Akpabio went ahead and named first timers as chairmen of very sensitive committees. Former governors who are his colleagues were given useless committees.
“We’ve tried to understand the reason behind his action. The only thing we could deduce was the fact that he only gave good committees to those who he felt supported him. That’s the only reason.
“Since he has told us we don’t matter, we will flex our muscles and do whatever it will take to keep the independence of the Senate. We’ve been made an annex to the Villa and this is very odd.
“This is not about Akpabio. This is about keeping the National Assembly strong. For now, we’re too weak to even challenge the Executive when needed. These are the issues.”
The Senate has, however, described as a ruse the rumour that some senators were planning to remove Akpabio.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Yemi Adaramodu, said: “Our attention has just been drawn to a syndicated satanic verse in a section of the media of purported and illusory plots of leadership change in the Senate.
“The Nigerian Senate is one united and fraternal family. This imaginative composition is in the realm of speculation, like the fake and fallacious story of N100 million per legislator. It’s apt to note that the10th Senate, under the leadership of Senator Godswill Akpabio has carried out its legislative and constitutional duties diligently.
“Within a span of less than 60 legislative days, the Senate has passed life enhancing bills and motions. It has screened and confirmed Service Chiefs and Ministers, among others, apart from very essential oversight functions.
“We urge the fifth columnists, who operate undoubtedly outside the Senate, desperate to cause disharmony through media stunts and thus clipping the wings of Nigeria’s democracy, to take caution.
“The Senate should be allowed fresh air to settle down for its national assignments, so that the Nigerian project can move forward. The media too should be discerning not to be used as hand tool to these retailers of fake and bad news.”
There were reports in some mainstream newspapers recently that some northern senators were plotting to impeach Akpabio