- Dejected Tinubu’s wife snubs Senate President
Twenty-eight All Progressives Congress, APC Senators who were absent at the inauguration of the National Assembly on Tuesday, returned to the Legislature yesterday to begin a tired war against Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
In fact, a dazed and angry Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose candidates for the top NASS jobs were defeated, snubbed Senator Saraki at the plenary.
Similarly, members of the Unity Forum, who are mainly the supporters of Senator Ahmed Lawan for the Senate Presidency, rejected Saraki’s election, insisting that the lawmakers present at the inauguration did not form a quorum.
However, Senators of Like Minds, who are supporters of Saraki, refuted the assertion, saying they did everything according to the constitution and rules of the Senate.
The Lawan group also claimed that former Senate President, David Mark was not elected Senate Leader as reported by a section of the media.
The aggrieved Senators however allowed Saraki to swear them in.
While shaking hands with the lawmakers after the exercise, when it was Oluremi Tinubu’s turn, she ignored the Senate President.
The action of Tinubu’s wife might not be unconnected with what transpired at the inauguration of the 8th Senate when Saraki ignored the position of the APC to emerge the Senate President.
At a press briefing, the Unity Forum led by Senator Barnabas Gemade, explained that APC Senators-elect were summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari for a meeting on Tuesday and as party loyalists went there bearing in mind that the inauguration would be delayed but to their surprise, the Senate Clerk went on to inaugurate the Senate and elected the principal officers.
The process, he said, didn’t confer legitimacy on the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President because there were only 57 Senators out of 109 in attendance.
On this premise, they rejected Saraki and Ekweremadu and vowed to do everything to remove them.
But Senator Dino Melaye, who led the Like Mind Senators, countered them at another briefing, saying they had earlier received the same summons by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and went there only to wait in vain for him, adding that this informed why they didn’t attend the meeting with President Buhari.
Before the counter briefings, Senator Kabiru Marafa, had raised a point of order during the session protesting the election of the principal officers, saying his privileges as a senator were eroded.
He said reports in the media that 51 senators were absent at the inauguration portrayed him and others as irresponsible members of the Senate and that the singular act caused a lot of embarrassment to him and his family who felt that he was absent.
Citing Order 43, he said he was handed the Senate Standing Order (Amended) that as a member of the 7th Assembly, he could not recall when the rules were amended.
However, the Senate President ruled him out of order, saying he didn’t discuss the matter with him first as stipulated by the rule.
Another attempt by Senator Danjuma Goje to resurrect the issue was also ruled out of order by Saraki, citing section 64 of the constitution, which provides that the President is empowered to order the proclamation of the Senate, adding that what happened on Tuesday was in compliance with the provision as the Clerk of the National Assembly read the letter from Mr. President.
“For anybody to say that we did something wrong is missing the point. I want to put it on record that anybody who decided to go for whatever meeting is on his own,’’ he reiterated.
Again, Senator Gemade cited Order 64 of the Senate on privileges which allows any Senator to raise a matter when his or her privileges are breached. He said that the privileges of many senators were breached on Tuesday, adding that the 7th Senate enjoyed great unity which was important for the smooth running of the Upper House.
He alleged that the Clerk had been asked to give a reasonable delay of the proclamation in honour of the President who was meeting with some Senators-elect.
“The President had actually sought a slight delay to enable him speak with the senators that he wanted to speak to. I think that respect begets respect and if Mr. President made that request, the Clerk should have respected the President.
“While we were still at that meeting, the television was already showing that the event was going on; it is a breach of the privileges of the senators who were at that meeting.
“It behoves on you that due respect must be given to all concerned, for this reason, may I conclude that your ruling by the wave of hand on the issue of privilege raised earlier was too casual,” Gemade said.
Saraki replied: “We all took an oath to be guided by the constitution and the rules of the Senate. So, I shall refer you to Rule 53 which states that ‘it will be out of order to mention any matter that has been concluded by the Senate.”