Intrigues as Senators move to impeach Akpabio

Nigerian senate

…Pro, anti-Akpabio forces draw battle line

Following reports about a plot by some aggrieved senators to impeach Senate President Godswill Akpabio, sources have revealed the issues at stake.

While reports had claimed that Akpabio’s downfall was being plotted by some senators of northern extraction, it was learnt the matter goes beyond the northern senators alleged to be spearheading the move.

This came as the Senate said senators are united behind its leadership, describing reports about impeachment move as ‘’imaginative composition.’’

It pleaded to be allowed to settle down for its national assignment.

This paper reported that some senators had commenced manoeuvring to impeach the Senate President when the upper chamber reconvenes on September 26.

Those behind the development accused Akpabio of playing the role of a lap dog for President Bola Tinubu rather than serving the overall interest of senators and Nigerians.

North
They alleged that his closeness to the President has prevented him from paying full attention to his colleagues and working hard for the good of the country.

The controversy that followed a viral video in which he said the Clerk of the National Assembly had credited accounts of senators with a token to enable them enjoy their holidays was also given as one of the reasons for the move to remove him from office.

However, a northern senator knowledgeable in the ongoing intrigues in the Senate, Sen Ishaku Abbo, who spoke on behalf of his aggrieved colleagues, dismissed the report as the handiwork of the Senate President’s camp.

In a chat, he said contrary to the claim that Akpabio only ‘’offended’’ northern senators, most legislators are upset.

The lawmaker, who represents Adamawa North, said Akpabio planted a seed of discord in the Senate with the manner committees’ leadership was chosen.

He said loyalists of the former Akwa Ibom governor were given the chairmanship and vice chairmanship of top committees, a situation that left other senators aggrieved.
The number-three man was accused of circumventing equity in his choice of those to head some committees described as ‘Category A Committees.’

Committees
“If Akpabio and his camp wanted a united Senate just like Ahmed Lawal, they could have known exactly what to do during Senate Standing Committees allocation and supplementary budget resources allocation”, Abbo said.

“But the camp of the Senate President continued to treat the Senate as a conquered territory where the winner goes home with the spoils of war. A classical example of a winner-takes-all.

“How do you explain a situation where out of Category A Committees, only two went to his perceived rivals? How will you explain a Senate where 83.1 percent of those made Chairmen of Category A Committees are also Vice Chairmen of Category A? How do you explain a third time a senator being denied the chairmanship of a committee? How do you explain that the leadership of the Senate are all vice chairmen of Category A Committees?’’

It was further claimed that the Akpabio camp intended to set the President against the North. This was said to have been responsible for the allegation that northern senators were the movers of the alleged impeachment plot.

“As a nothern senator and an official of the Nothern Senators Forum, I make bold to say that this news is deliberately planted and syndicated by the ‘camp’ of Senator Akpabio just to set President Bola Tinubu against the North,” Abbo said.

“I call on Senator Akpabio to call his camp to order as the seed of discord and deep ethno-religious division they are sowing will not augur well for the country. Why the North? Why in Saudi Arabia?’’.

Clearance
The Adamawa senator said senators were also unhappy over the manner ministerial clearance was handled by Akpabio.

He was said to have decided on the security clearance of some nominees without carrying senators along.

Painting a picture of what transpired, Abbo said the petitions upon which three nominees were not okayed by the Senate were not treated by any of the Senate committees.
According to him, Akpabio only told the senators about the security report after returning from Aso Rock where he spent three hours.

His words: “Let me ask this question? During the ministerial screening where three minister-designates were refused clearance by the Senate, which committee looked into the petitions against them? Ethics and Privileges or Ad hoc Committee or Committee of the Whole? Was the report deliberated and debated during the plenary? Was there any voting either, ayes or nay?

“The Senate President just absconded during plenary and kept the Senate waiting in the chamber for over three hours while he was in the Villa -something that never happened in the history of the Senate. He came and read out the names of those cleared and ‘waved’ papers in his hand, claiming security reports from the NSA or DSS as the reason for not clearing some nominees. In my opinion, this is the lowest the Senate ever descended.

Security agencies
“Who gave the NSA or DSS DG or IGP the power to write to the Senate? What do you call that communication? Executive communication or reckless communication?

“Are we telling Nigerians that the Presidency and security agencies did not do diligent work before sending the list to the Senate or the Senate is used as cannon fodder for presidential aides power play?

“The Senate President knows what to do to have a peaceful Senate like Ahmed Lawal and not blackmail senators from the northern region and use newspaper reports to hoodwink the President.

“President Bola Tinubu worked hard to make Senator Akpabio Senate President, but it’s only Senator Akpabio that can manage his colleagues well and not Tinubu managing them for him.’’

‘Uncharitable’
Reacting to the matter, Akpabio dismissed the reports of impeachment move as uncharitable, saying attention shouldn’t be given to the aggrieved senators.

A statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Eseme Eyiboh, said the impeachment move reports were “laced with malice to achieve what senators are yet to comprehend.”

Eyiboh’s words: “All senators are also refreshing themselves ahead of the resumption, therefore, any suggestion that they are presently engaged in other subversive plots against the institution is rather uncharitable. It is mostly uncharitable for those senators who initially did not support the emergence of the leadership but who have all unanimously endorsed the Senator Akpabio-led leadership. Continuing to link these senators with needless conspiracy with barely disguised innuendo is rather unkind.

“We call on the media not to give in to the conspiratorial tales, and not to damage the reputations that they have built over time.”

Fifth columnists
Also in its response, the Senate, in a statement by the Chairman, Committee on Media and Publicity, Yemi Adaramodu, APC, Ekiti South, cautioned those it described as fifth columnists operating outside the Senate.

He said: “Our attention has just been drawn to syndicated satanic verses 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 the fake and fallacious story of 100m per legislator. It’s apt to note that the 10th Senate, under the leadership of Senator Godswill Akpabio has carried out its legislative and constitutional duties diligently.

“Within 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 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 a hand tool to these retailers of fake and bad news.”

Impeached
The development is coming three months after the emergence of Akpabio as the ninth Senate President since 1999.

His election was fiercely contested in a race that saw him defeating his closest rival, Sen Abdulaziz Yari.

Akpabio polled 63 votes to defeat Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State, who secured 46 votes.

The former Niger Delta Minister enjoyed the support of Tinubu while Yari had the backing of some senators.

Of the eight former Senate Presidents, two were impeached, one was compelled to resign while others concluded their tenures, but not without rancour.

Those who were impeached include the late Sen Evans Enwerem and Sen Chuba Okadigbo. Sen Adolfus Wabara resigned amid controversy. Other past Senate Presidents are Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Sen Ken Nnamani, Sen David Mark, Sen Bukola Saraki and Sen Ahmed Lawan.

www.vanguard.com