• Unity Forum senators write APC Chairman Oyegun
For the second time in three weeks, the Unity Forum backing Sen. Ahmed Lawan yesterday wrote All Progressives Congress( APC) National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, faulting Senate President Bukola Saraki’s excuse for appointing the principal officers of the Senate.
The Forum said Saraki was incorrect in claiming that Zonal Caucuses had taken decisions on the choice of principal officers before the President of the Senate received the list of candidates favoured by APC from Odigie-Oyegun.
The group also said the APC’s letter got to the Office of the Senate President a day before the zonal meeting was said to have been arranged
It also stated that the Zonal Caucuses do not exist in the Standing Orders of the Senate.
The Forum, which made its position known in a June 29 letter to the APC National Chairman, said” “Our attention has been drawn to the letter written by the President of the Senate to our party, the APC, which was published in some newspapers on Saturday the 27th of June 2015 in response to the nomination of principal officers earlier forwarded by the party to the Senate President and we wish to state the facts of the matter as follows:
” In the said letter the Senate President alleged that: “The said letter was received after various APC zonal caucuses had taken their decisions to nominate candidates as principal officers of the Senate – in line with parliamentary convention and extant provisions of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended (Chapter VI: Rules 28,29 & 31 refers). This was a follow-up of the prior APC Senate caucus meeting held on 23rd June 2015.”
”We wish to state that it is not true that the so-called zonal caucuses, which do not exist in the Standing Orders of the Senate, acted before the letter from the party was received by Senator Bukola Saraki .
“This is so, as Senator Suleiman Nazif announced during a meeting of all APC senators on Tuesday 23rd of June 2015 that the party had already forwarded the names of those who are to lead the APC caucus to the Office of the Senate President.
“Thus, the letter got to the Office of the Senate President a day before the so-called zonal meeting was said to have been arranged. To the best of our knowledge no such meetings of the zonal caucuses ever took place but probably a meeting of a clique of the supporters of the Senate President.”
The Forum explained that attempts by Sen. Gbenga Ashafa to draw the attention of the President of the Senate to the procedural error was overruled.
”It is to be noted that Senator Gbenga Ashafa on Wednesday the 24th of June 2015 raised a point of order in the Senate Chamber, asking the Senate President to announce the names of the APC Principal Officers of the Senate as submitted by the party. Senator Bukola Saraki overruled,” the Forum added.
The Forum alleged abuse and misinterpretation of the Standing Orders of the Senate by the President of the Senate.
It insisted that it was the prerogative of the APC, not zonal caucuses, to nominate the principal officers in line with Rules 28, 29 and 31 of the Senate.
It added: “It is a fact that Democratic Convention conferred on the party to appoint those who are to lead its Caucus in any parliament, as they are those that shall lead and galvanise members of such party in the parliament towards the actualisation of the manifesto of the party.
“Hence, Chapter VI: Rules 28,29 and 31 of the Senate Standing Orders referred to by the Senate President do not confer on the so-called zonal caucuses the right to appoint the APC principal officers as they state as follows:
*Order 28: There shall be a Majority Leader of the Senate. The Majority Leader shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of Senators.
*Order 29: There shall be a Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate. The Majority Leader shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of seats in the Senate.
*Order 31: There shall be a Chief Whip of the Senate. The Chief Whip shall be a Senator nominated from the party with the highest number of seats in the Senate.
The Forum also said the nomination of Sen. Ali Ndume and others as principal officers contravened Order 3 Rule 2 of the Senate because ranking was not followed.
The aggrieved senators added: “We want to draw the attention of the party that the names of those announced by the Senate President to lead the APC Caucus in the Senate is in contravention of Order 3 Rule 2 of the Senate Standing Rules which stipulates as follows : “Nomination of senators to serve as presiding officers and appointment of principal officers and other officers of the Senate or on any parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of senators.
“In determining ranking, the following order shall apply: (i) Senators returning based on number of times re-elected; (ii) Senators who have been members of House of Representatives; and (iii) Senators elected as Senators for the first time.
”It is important to note that those nominated by the party are not only the highest ranked in their respective zones but the entire APC caucus:-
1. Majority Leader: Senator Ahmed Lawan (Two- term member of the House of Representatives and serving third term in the Senate) North-East; against Senator Ali Ndume who was announced by the Senate President that did two terms in the House of Representatives and is currently a second term senator.
2. Chief Whip: Senator Adesola Adeyeye (One-term member of the House of Representatives and second term Senator) South-West.
3. Deputy Majority Leader: Senator George Akume (3rd term in the Senate) North-Central
4. Deputy Chief Whip: Senator Abu Ibrahim (3rd term in the Senate) North-West, as against Senator Bala Ibn Na Allah, who was announced by the Senate President who did two terms in the House of Representatives and is a first term senator.
”We strongly believe that the nominees of the party were arrived at in accordance with the provisions of the Senate standing orders.”
• Unity Forum senators write APC Chairman Oyegun