Senate Peace Deal: Winners and Losers

OrderPaperToday- The Senate resumed on the 9th of October 2018 to widespread anticipation of trouble connected to the President of the Senate’s defection during the annual recess in July.

Following his defection to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) (who still held a slight majority in the senate) vowed to legally impeach him on resumption.

However, when plenary resumed, the red chamber went into a closed-door session and things have been quiet ever since.

After the meeting, OrderPaper Nigeria gathered that the senators struck a deal to preserve peace within the legislature.

Reportedly, a part of the deal included allowing the swift approval of presidential requests in return for peace in the chamber and the continued stay of Saraki as the President of the Senate.

That peace deal appears to have been honoured even though it has left winners and losers in its wake.

The winners

The Presiding Duo: Bukola Saraki and his Deputy are undoubtedly happy with the current peace deal as they would have been the first causalities in the wake of a leadership tussle in the chamber. Nevertheless, it appears that the duo will see out the remaining part of their tenure with relative ease.

Presidency: The relationship between the executive and the legislature has rarely been cordial. However, under the current atmosphere of peace, presidential requests have been granted swiftly.

Despite lamenting at the soaring rate of external borrowing, the senate approved the president’s request to raise $2.78 billion from the International Capital Market. The loan will serve as part-funding of the 2018 budget and will be gotten from Eurobonds and other securities.

Committee Chairmen: The chairmen of various “juicy” committees will be satisfied with maintaining the status quo in the senate. Save for the peace deal, a major shake-up of committee chairmanships may have occurred.

Nominees: Last July, the senate drew the battle line with the presidency, resolving to indefinitely stall the confirmation of nominees sent by the executive.

The decision followed a controversial comment accredited to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, where he reportedly stated that the senate does not have the power to confirm certain nominees.

Some of the nominees who have benefitted the most from the current peace deal include Lanre Gbajabiamila whose confirmation was suspended indefinitely over a year ago. Also, Abdulmalik Mohammed Danburam from Kaduna was finally appointed as the Commissioner for the National Population Commission, despite concerns over his certificates.

Again, despite protests by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross-River) and Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi) over the lop-sidedness of President Buhari’s nomination of Chairman and commissioners for the Federal Civil Service Commission, all 13 nominees were approved.

INEC: The senate passed the Independent National Electoral Commission’s election budget within two sitting days after resumption. It is not hard to imagine that the passage may have dragged on longer if the red chamber was immersed in political bickering over the leadership of the senate.

The Losers

The Senate Presidency Hopefuls: A couple of senators who hoped to emerge as the next President of the Senate in the event of Saraki’s removal may have been left slightly disappointed with the continued stay of the presiding duo.

APC: Following the defection of Bukola Saraki, the APC declared a public media war against the President of the Senate with its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole leading the charge.

Also, prominent senators such as Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, (APC, Delta) and Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina) vowed that Saraki will be impeached on resumption, several times. However, almost a month after reconvening, the impeachment issue has not been brought up.

Akpabio: Senator Godswill Akpabio (APC, Akwa-Ibom) has been one of the more vocal senators against the current leadership of the senate since the red chamber resumed. The Akwa Ibom Senator even vowed to give up his right to speak on the floor until the senate leadership is ‘restructured.’

Akpabio reached this decision after feeling the effects of his defection and the unchanged senate leadership during a face-off with Saraki over seating positions after the chamber resumed.

On the ill-fated day, he had sought to speak on a point of order raised by Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom) on the floor, accusing the APC in Akwa Ibom of planning to disrupt the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state.

However, Bukola Saraki prevented Akpabio from making his contribution, insisting that the Senator return to his former seat among the PDP Senators before speaking.

The situation led to a heated exchange between PDP and APC Senators which lasted for several minutes before calm was restored, following an exchange of apologies from some of the actors in the drama.

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