Senators belonging to the All progressives Congress will have to rethink their strategy of replacing Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, with a member of their party because he will simply not heed their call on him to resign
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jul 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
SENATORS in the 8th National Assembly who think that the resignation of Ike Ekweremandu as deputy senate president will end the crisis in the Senate might as well have a rethink. Ike Ekweremadu and his supporters are not likely to give in to such demand even though he is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party and not of the ruling party. Even if Ekweremadu wants to his supporters and party stalwarts will not allow him to do that.
This is notwithstanding the fact that since the emergence of Senator Ekweremadu, the crisis in the APC whose members are calling on him to resign with immediate effect has worsened. For one thing, Ekweremadu do not owe any allegiance to APC and his party PDP is the greatest beneficiary of a divided APC an opponent they will be happy to weaken even the more so as to render it powerful in the 2019 election. Even though some aggrieved senators posit that Ekweremadu’s immediate resignation will bring peace to the party. The senators, who are loyal to Senator Ahmad Lawan, the party’s candidate for the Senate presidency, insisted that Ekweremadu’s resignation was one of the conditions that would make the faction to recognise Senator Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate.
The aggrieved lawmakers, under the auspices of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, however, stated that they had nothing personal against Bukola Saraki, Senate president and Ekweremadu. Kabir Marafa, spokesperson of the SUF, said the pro-Saraki senators must explain why they disregarded all the arrangements put in place by the leaders of the APC to produce consensus candidates for post of Senate President and deputy senate president. He said: “We demand that Senator Ike Ekweremadu must resign his position because he needed at least 55 senators to emerge as deputy senate president. Ekweremadu is a lawyer and an experienced lawmaker. He knows he is not qualified to win the election with 54 votes.”
Supporting the APC senators, John Oyegun, national chairman, APC, said that the resignation of Ekweremadu would help the party tackle the crisis it has fallen into as a result of the disobedience of Saraki.
However, Senators on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have also vowed that Ekweremadu would never resign his position. They describe the call by the APC for his immediate resignation as laughable. Senator Abiodun Olujimi, representing Ekiti-South Senatorial District, said since the senators in attendance on the day of inauguration had overwhelmingly voted for Ekweremadu, no back-door arrangement could remove him.
“The APC senators should stop making such demands, because it is an effort in futility. How do they think that they could ask someone who won an election overwhelmingly among his colleagues to resign in order to satisfy some interests within their party? They should not say that at all. The Nigerian senators have chosen their leaders. If they have any issue within their party, they should go and sort themselves out or go to court. Better still, they can start impeachment process, if they think they have the figure. Nobody will resign, Senator Ekweremadu was duly elected and he won’t resign. He cannot resign,” she said.
Similarly, Senator Ighoyota Amori, representing Delta Central Senatorial District, said those calling for Ekweremadu’s resignation were ignorant of the Senate Rules. He said they could only remove the deputy senate president with a two-third majority vote during an impeachment process. “The election of Senator Ekweremadu followed all constitutional provisions and procedures. He is duly elected and there is no issue of illegitimacy at all. They should go and read their rules very well.”
The position of PDP Senators is supported by some prominent Nigerians including lawyers who understand the law guiding elections in the National Assembly.
One of them is Monday Ubani, lawyer and human right activist, who told Realnews that it would be very difficult for APC senators to impeach Ekweremadu or even force him to resign because he was duly elected by the members of the Senate. He observed that the ambition of Senator Saraki would not allow the APC senators to impeach Ekweremadu. According to him, no amount of pressure can make Ekweremadu to resign his position and the PDP senators would fight to finish ensuring he remained as the deputy senate president.
“I doubt whether impeachment of Ekweremadu will work out. It will be very difficult for the APC to impeach Senator Ekweremadu because PDP controls a sizable number in the Senate; they are not in the minority. And what the APC is maintaining is marginal majority. So, it will be very difficult for them to succeed in removing Ekweremadu in as much as Saraki has refused to repent. Senator Saraki is still in need of the PDP senators to succeed as the Senate President. And let me tell you what he will do throughout the entire four years, he will never listen to the directives of the APC. He will continue to do the bidding of the members of the Senate because his sustenance depends on the Senators not on the political party. So as long as he gets the support of the Senate he will continue to be in power,” he said.
Ubani also doubted the possibility of the APC senators taking any legal action against Senator Ekweremadu. In his view, the 1999 Constitution supports the election of Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President because he was duly elected by the members of the Senate. He noted that challenging Ekweremadu means challenging Saraki as well because both of them emerged under the same process. “You can’t remove Ekweremadu and retain Saraki. Besides, Saraki would not allow anything that will remove him, so he will fight to remain in position.”
Also, the World Igbo Congress, WIC, a global network of Ndigbo, said that anyone asking Senator Ekweremadu to resign his position is an enemy of the Igbo people the group congratulated Ekweremadu for his selfless service to the country, as well as his unparalleled leadership in the Senate and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. “We are strongly behind him and will do everything to support him in office. The current dicey economic status of the nation and the slippery slopes for our region in Nigeria’s political terrain call for immediate, strategic, all hands on deck, team approach by the leaders of the zone towards its transformation.”
Also, the Enugu USA, an umbrella body of Enugu State people residing in the United States of America, has poured encomiums on Senator Ekweremadu, describing his re-election as historic and well deserved. The group, in a statement signed by Sinachi Ugwuonye, its national president, described Senator Ekweremadu’s re-election as most deserving. “In this position, our own Super Hero, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu has been tested and found highly worthy. Though this was a hard-to-believe outcome of the National Assembly elections, considering the political setting of current Nigeria, we are not surprised, as we know that we have a rare phenomenon in the person of this honourable man, fondly and largely known as Ikeoha,” he said.
Ekweremadu, though elected on the platform of the PDP took advantage of the absence of some members of the APC to emerge the deputy senate president when the 8th National Assembly was inaugurated on June 9. He defeated Senator Ali Ndume of APC. Most APC Senators were at the International Conference Centre to attend a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari when they heard that the election of the principal officers of the Senate had taken place.
It was believed that the Senate President had ceded the position of the deputy senate president to get the support of the PDP members of the Senate when his party refused to support his bid to lead the upper chamber. Crisis has been simmering within the ruling APC and in the National Assembly since June 9 after the controversial National Assembly elections. Attempts to resolve the crisis have so far not yielded any positive result. Only time will tell if the APC senators will succeed in getting Senator Ekweremadu to resign or get rid of him by impeachment.