The Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, successfully presided over the affairs of the upper and lower chambers of the national assembly on Tuesday, surviving the impeachment plot allegedly being hatched by lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Senate and House of Representatives suspended their sitting barely an hour after resumption from their annual recess which lasted for 10 weeks to honour Funke Adedoyin, a house member who died after a brief illness last Friday in Abuja.
After an opening prayer led by Saraki, the lawmakers quickly went into an executive session. After the closed-door session, the senate president read out some letters from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Coming under Order 43 of the Senate’s standing order, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, thereafter, asked the Senate to observe a minute silence in honour of the deceased.
He also asked the Senate to suspend plenary for the day in line with the ‘tradition of the National Assembly.’
The lawmakers adopted the two motions after a voice vote. The plenary was adjourned at 12:19 p.m.
The House of Representatives also observed similar tradition following a motion for adjournment moved by House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, in honour of the lawmaker who represented Irepodun Isin/ Ekiti /Oke Ero Federal Constituency of Kwara State.
That both chambers conducted the legislative business of the day without impeachment battle was a huge relief to many observers who had been anticipating a feisty resumption.
It would be recalled that the National Assembly had embarked on its annual recess on July 24 amidst controversies of defection and preparation for party primaries. It was scheduled to resume on September 25 but was postponed to October 9 amidst growing tension between the lawmakers of the ruling part and those on the opposing bench.
Before the recess, a power play had ensued when the official residence of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, were sealed off by security operatives, allegedly on the orders of the executive, in what Saraki said was an attempt to stymie the day’s NASS plenary, in order to prevent the defection.
The federal legislature, has been restive ever since, culminating in the invasion of its premises by operatives of the Department of the State Services (DSS).
The invasion led to the sacking of DSS Director General, Lawan Daura, by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Since the national assembly proceeded on recess, the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Adams Oshiohmole had declared its intention to dethrone Saraki and Dogara as Senate president and speaker of House of Representatives, respectively for their defection to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
APC lawmakers were reportedly schooled on how to carry out swift impeachment of the leadership of both chambers as soon as the national assembly resume plenary to enable the ruling party regain leadership of the parliament.
In what has been interpreted in some quarters as a gimmick to carry out the expected onslaught, the APC lawmakers have been calling for the reopening of the NASS on the grounds that some of the critical legislations, including the passage of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), without which next year’s election, could be threatened, remained pending.
Two weeks ago, when the assembly was supposed to re-open, a statement came from its management, shifting plenary to October 9 (today), to enable members participate fully in their individual party primaries to select candidates for the various elections next year.
The Presidency, has however, been quoted as trying to calm frayed nerves, in welcoming the lawmakers back, urging them to immediately hit the ground running in dealing with the critical legislations.
Presidential Liaison Officer to NASS, Ita Enang, was quoted as conveying the sentiments of Buhari to the lawmakers, while welcoming them back by saying: “Let me congratulate the Senate president, the speaker, all presiding and principal officers and all the distinguished senators and honourable members of the House for a well-deserved annual legislative vacation and welcome them back to work. I congratulate all of them and I pray that let the result, positive, favourable or otherwise, not affect the way they will consider the nation’s business.
“Let them please appreciate that they are senators and honourable members of the National Assembly and the constitution entrusts the duty on them and they should please exercise this duty with the greatest show of patriotism,” he said.
Citing the President’s request on the Supplementary Budget to provide for the INEC and other sources of funding still before them, Enang said since almost all the political parties had completed their exercises, “we are appealing to them to please consider this budget expeditiously and pass it so that the nation’s electoral process can move forward,” adding that they also needed to consider the Electoral Amendment Bill that would ensure the proper mode and method of conducting the 2019 elections.