Indication emerged yesterday that the Presidency will not allow the impeachment of Senate President Senator Godswill Akpabio in spite of grumblings among lawmakers.
A Presidency source told LEADERSHIP in confidence yesterday that the president was more inclined to saving Akpabio should moves to impeach him when the upper chamber resumes later this month as speculated. The source said the presidency was wary that an impeachment of the Senate President could “cause a ripple effect that could spill into the House of Representatives which it cannot afford.”
The source said as much as the villa was uncomfortable with recent comments by Akpabio, the president is desirous of retaining Akpabio for the sake of stability, adding that “there is no anticipation of leadership change.” The source also said the villa was conscious of not playing into the hands of political opponents who might seize the National Assembly to undo the president politically.
There have been grumblings by lawmakers who lost out in the leadership tussle as well as those who didn’t get juicy committees in both chambers of the National Assembly.
LEADERSHIP had last month reported that Akpabio’s comments on ‘token’ for senators’ holiday had caused members of President Bola Tinubu’s inner circle to commence what was described as a “secretly guided but desperate search” for Akpabio’s replacement. Over the weekend LEADERSHIP also exclusively reported impeachment moves against Akpabio by some aggrieved lawmakers.
The impeachment move is being spearheaded by two lawmakers from the North West and other senators across the National Assembly are already meeting and mapping out plans to carry out the daring move. Their grievance, it was alleged, is that the Senate President is a rubber stamp for the presidency and would be unable to carry out his duty effectively.
However, chairman of the Senate committee on media and publicity, Yemi Adaramodu, dismissed the impeachment threat, describing it as fake and fallacious because the upper chamber is “one united and fraternal family.”
But in a twist of events, the senator representing Adamawa North, Ishaku Abbo, accused Akpabio and his associates of being behind the story about the impeachment threat. Abbo added that Akpabio’s camp instigated the narrative to create discord between President Bola Tinubu and northern politicians.
Abbo said, “As a Northern senator and an official of the Northern Senators Forum, I boldly affirm that this news is intentionally disseminated and propagated by the ‘camp’ of Senator Akpabio solely to pit President Bola Tinubu against the North. I call on Senator Akpabio to rein in his camp, as the seeds of discord and deep ethno-religious division they are sowing will not bode well for the country. Why the North? Why in Saudi Arabia?”
“If Akpabio and his camp wanted a united Senate, much like Ahmed Lawan, they would have known exactly what to do during Senate Standing Committees allocation and supplementary budget resources allocation. But the camp of the SP continued to treat the Senate as a conquered territory where the winner walks away with the spoils of war, a classic case of the winner takes all.”
Adamawa lawmaker further said, “How do you justify a situation where out of Category A Committees, only two were granted to his perceived rivals? How will you explain a Senate where 83.1 percent of those appointed chairmen of Category A Committees also serve as vice chairmen of Category A?
“How do you explain a third-term Senator being denied the chairmanship of a committee? How do you justify the leadership of the Senate, all being Vice Chairmen of Category A Committees? You cannot treat us as conquered people and then return to manipulate us with planted and paid newspaper reports to set us against the president.”
The Senate is expected to resume on September 26. It had been on recess. When contacted, a lawmaker, who pleaded anonymity said, “We have been sold out as cheap articles with no rights and responsibilities of ours at all. There is no direction that can be initiated from us as lawmakers.”
The lawmaker said as far as the lower chamber is concerned, “Everything has to start and end with Villa where the man who propped the Speaker is. The 10th Assembly is the worst as we can see. We are worse than a unit, not even a department, of the executive arm.
“It is no news that the standing committees were compiled by the influential presidential aide and his associates in the villa where they ensured the total obliteration of all known or perceived opponents of Abbas to the extent that they didn’t mind if all committees were given out to the opposition.
“It is very unfortunate because in this same chamber in 2019, some of us staked our necks for them. Even Wase stepped down for them, but here we are. So if anything happens to Akpabio’s tenure, it will have an infectious impact on Abbas and no one can stop it,” the source said.
Senate Must Not Be Houseboy To Executive – CSOs
Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have reacted to the crisis rocking the Nigerian Senate less than 100 days after their inauguration, stating that the Senate must not be a house boy to the executive.
According to the CSOs, the 9th Senate acted the same way the present Senate is acting which, according to them, is not good for democracy, rule of law and separation of powers. There has been rumours of planned impeachment of Senate President Godswill Akpabio, but the Senate has punctured such rumours. The CSOs who spoke to LEADERSHIP are Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).
Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said politicians who are greatest beneficiaries of democracy don’t want inclusiveness in governance. “Politicians need to be more inclusive because they are the greatest beneficiaries of democracy. If there is no inclusion and transparency, there will always be a crisis. And so, any leader that did not carry the people along, will create problems for himself,” Rafsanjani said.
According to him, politicians must do everything from a patriotic point of view, adding that the Senate must maintain its independence. “It is important that the Senate President acts responsibly. He should ensure inclusivity. The Senate must not be an appendix of the executive. The 9th Senate experienced such. The Senate must not be a houseboy of the executive. The Senate must check the excesses of the government.
“What the previous Senate President did with Buhari is exactly what Akpabio is doing with Tinubu. Akpabio must have a more broad mind. There is a need to ensure they scrutinise whatever the president brings, they must scrutinise it. The Senate President must be responsible. They should not behave as if they don’t care about the people,” Rafsanjani added.