President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, yesterday, named Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, an All Progressives Congress (APC) member representing Ekiti Central, as Senate Leader for the 10th National Assembly.
Akpabio announced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator for Plateau North Senatorial District, Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon, as Minority Leader.
Other principal officers of the senate proclaimed by Akpabio included Senator Dave Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South), Deputy Majority Leader; Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), Chief Whip; and Senator Lola Ashiru (APC, Kwara South), Deputy Whip.
Bamidele clarified that no single political party had the sole right to determine the minority leadership positions in the 10th Senate because apart from the ruling APC, six other parties had elected members.
But the PDP senator for Kebbi South Senatorial District, Garuba Musa Maidoki, said he was not part of the process that led to the emergence of the senate minority officers, and dismissed it as nebulous.
Relatedly, some PDP senators explained why they moved against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike during the election of the principal officers, saying it is in the over all interest of the party.
Yesterday, also, National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, revealed that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had no hand in the emergence of the principal officers announced by the senate president, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of the House Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas.
Addressing journalists in Abuja after an NWC meeting that lasted more than three hours, Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Senator Hope Uzondinma, said the leadership of the party enjoyed the support of the APC governors.
Akpabio announced the principal officers after reading two official communications from both the majority and minority caucuses of the red chamber. He explained that the announcement of the principal officers was made based on the consensus and unanimous position of the seven political parties in the 10th senate.
The political parties include APC, PDP, Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Young People’s Party (YPP), and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
The senate dissolved into a closed session after Akpabio read out the names of the principal officers for the majority caucus.
At the resumption of plenary, Akpabio said, “The majority of members of the Senate Minority Caucus of the Senate made up of seven political parties have come up with their leadership.
“They are Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon as the Minority Leader; Senator Lere Oyewumi (PDP, Osun West) Deputy Minority Leader; Senator Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central) as the Minority Whip; Senator Rufai Hanga (NNPP, Kano Central), as the Deputy Minority Whip.”
‘PDP Alone Cannot Determine Minority Leaders’
New Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele said no single political party could solely determine the minority leadership positions in the 10th Senate because six of them had elected members.
Bamidele said the emergence of the principal officers was not rancorous. He maintained that stakeholders came together to fill the minority leadership positions.
The senate leader said, “The minority caucus leadership positions was not entirely a decision that one single political party could determine because more than one political party is involved in the 10th Senate.
“Thirty-eight out of the 50 minority caucus members approved the appointment of the minority principal officers after due consultations with relevant stakeholders.
“The minority caucus also had a matured discussion at an executive plenary session, where they jointly agreed on the principal officers positions and approved the announcement by the senate president.”
Bamidele dismissed insinuations that both the majority and minority leadership positions were sent from the presidency.
Senator Garuba Musa Maidoki (PDP, Kebbi South) said he was not involved in the process that led to the emergence of the senate minority principal officers. Maidoki told journalists after the announcement of the principal officers that the selection process was not transparent.
He stated, “I cannot imagine, as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on a minority party, and a minority leader has emerged without even sending me a message that I am seeking your vote or concurrence, support to be a minority leader, what type of party are we having in PDP?
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“We have 36 out of the 50 senators that are in the PDP caucus and then we cannot even come together and agree who the should lead us. I have nothing against those, who emerged. If 38 senators out of 50 have signed, as it is said and I believe they did, I just believed from an outsider, not a politician, that this is not a system that must be encouraged.
“This is because if we must lead this country, we must be transparent to each other. I might not vote for you but I should be able to have the knowledge that you’re vying for something and you should be able to know that even if I oppose, you will win.”
But to come at the senate and just hear that some people have sat down and they have agreed that the six senators have nominated minority leadership.
“I am not against now that they have emerged, we are willing to join forces because there is no time to fight now. I never knew they were signing, nobody called me, nobody informed me even an SMS. We have a minority caucus where we have been meeting regularly, the issue was never brought.”
‘We Moved Against Atiku, Wike in Collective Interest’
Some PDP senators explained why they moved against the interests of Atiku and Wike during the election of principal officers, saying it is in the over all interest of the party.
Two senators, who confided in our correspondent, said, already, the issue of the minority leadership of the senate was polarising the party into camps. They said the PDP senators that attended Monday’s meeting at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja said they acted, when the meeting became deadlocked.
A southern senator, who did not want to be named, said, “We chose Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau) as Minority Leader because he was less controversial and not aligned to any of the camps in the party.
“We see him as gentle and easy going. So after our Monday meeting, we went to another meeting where it was agreed that before the letter from the party leadership, we would have presented our non-controversial person as Senate Minority Leader.”
“We acted in the best interest of PDP because we believed that it was the Atiku and Wike crisis that eventually led to PDP losing the presidential election in February. PDP and the G5 caused a lot of damage to the party and we are not ready to allow it to happen again.”
APC NWC Has No Hand in Choice of Principal Officers, Says Adamu
National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, said the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had no hand in the emergence of the principal officers announced yesterday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas.
Adamu disclosed this during a meeting between the NWC and members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), held at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.
Adanu told newsmen, “You will get an update of the national election in the National Assembly, sharing of powers, particularly, the leadership of the chambers. The election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives have been determined and announced, and their responsibilities.
“The remaining offices will be determined by the two chambers. I had a courtesy call on Saturday from the president of the senate and his deputy. The following Sunday, I received the speaker and his deputy speaker coming to me for Sallah’s homage.
“But I am just hearing a rumour now from the online media that there have been some announcements in the Senate and House of Representatives. The national headquarters of the party has not given any such information or communicated about the choice of offices.
“And until we formally resolve and communicate with them in writing, which is the norm and practice, it is not our intention to break away from traditions. So whatever announcement is done, either by President of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, Speaker or Deputy Speaker, is not from this secretariat.”
The chairman also revealed that the leadership of the party had constituted the National Advisory Council of the party.
He said, “We are going to formally inform you that we are going to have a caucus, and for quite a time, there has been no caucus in place. The caucus has been reconstituted according to the constitution of APC.
“And we will be discussing that with you as governors, you know your states more than we know. Even if we come from the same state, the leadership is in you as governors. We will hear your advice and then see how we can ensure that we comply with the provisions of the constitution of the party.
“Along with the caucus, the National Advisory Council we will give you the list that has been prepared and make sure that every state is represented. And we will give you the knowledge of it and advicese. You will also be given the benefits of all the detailed accounts from April 2022 to April 2023. The APC account has been audited and it has been submitted to the NEC by the party.”
However, addressing journalists after the meeting that lasted more than three hours, Chairman of PGF, Senator Hope Uzondinma, said the leadership of the party enjoyed the support of APC governors.
Uzondinma said, “Chairman never said that they are on their own. The National Assembly leadership belongs to our great party and they are members of our party, they are members of our party and they enjoy our support.
“If there is any way there is a communication gap anywhere, we will make it up and we have our internal mechanism of resolving such things. The National Assembly leadership enjoys the support of Progressive Governors Forum and that of our party. We don’t have any problem at all.”
Uzodinma argued that the meeting with members of NWC was to review, among other things, the outcome of the 2023 elections and identify areas the party had to strengthen.