Senate confident in Saraki, others
• Backs Buhari’s bid to block leakages
• Godswill Akpabio is Minority Leader
THE Senate, resuming yesterday from five weeks recess, passed a vote of confidence on its leadership headed by the Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
It also warned the police and other security agencies against allowing themselves to be used to harass the Senate, senators or their spouses, just as the lawmakers declared support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to block all economic leakages.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East)and 80 others, the senators noted that the vote of confidence on presiding officers and principal officers was to send clear messages to those it said were trying to distract it from carrying out its legislative duties.
The confidence vote motion was signed by 48 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senators, excluding only the Deputy Senate President and 33 of the 59 All Progressives’ Congress (APC) senators and unanimously passed by all senators present in chamber.
Also, at yesterday’s plenary session, the Upper Chamber announced it had received the President’s request to confirm the appointments of the Acting Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)and Service Chiefs.
Supports Buhari’s move to block economic leakages
Welcoming Senators from the five-week recess, Saraki called on them to be ready for serious legislative work particularly to revive the country’s ailing economy.
He said: “Our revenue profile has taken a great hit with the economic realities we face today. Aside the drop in the oil receipt, we have seen revenues plummet due to oil theft, indiscriminate grants of import duty waivers, concessions and grants. Nigerians want to see the National Assembly tackle these obscenities in our revenue systems as they deny our people the right to good governance.
‘‘Distinguished colleagues, our country is passing through a difficult time. We cannot afford to watch the mindboggling leakages in our oil receipt to go on.
This Senate is in tandem with Mr. President on this and is determined to turn every stone and shift every rock to ensure that all revenues due to the country from oil are recovered. We are not the only oil producing country in the world; oil theft cannot therefore become an acceptable part of our oil business.”
On the increasing spate of insurgents’ activities, he vowed that the Senate would take every legislative step required to put an end to insurgency in the country.
Saraki also announced that he would constitute and send a committee of the Senate to visit the North East with a view to knowing what the troops face in the battle front.
“Let me reiterate the readiness and willingness of the National Assembly to support and work with President Muhammadu Buhari to comprehensively rout Boko Haram. We join Mr. President in saying that we will defeat terrorism in our country and region, because we have the will to win this fight.” Our resolve is collective, we urge all friends of Nigeria including the United States and the entire international community to join us.”
The Senate also constituted the leadership of its minority yesterday with former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio emerging as the Senate Minority Leader.
Other Senators elected were Philips Aduda (FCT) as Minority Whip, Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South) as Deputy Senate Leader and Biodun Oluremi (Ekiti South) as Deputy Minority Whip.
But the announcement of minority leaders was quickly challenged by Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara) who said it was against the rule of ranking of the Senate.
Marafa said:”Based on the provisions of this Order, I want to posit that activities of this Senate of the 9th of June stand because they were covered by the proclamation of Mr. President which says the proceedings of this chamber should start by 10 a.m. All other activities of this Senate from the time, including but not limited to our Oath of Office is a nullity because it was not done within the timeframe.”
He was, however, overruled by the Senate President after the Deputy President had explained that the Senate Rule never excluded any senator from being elected as principal officer.
Marafa had equally faulted the timing of the Senate sessions, pointing out that the rule stipulated that the session should begin at 2 p.m. and end at 6 p.m.
In his ruling, Saraki said: “It is clearly an error which I have noted in the timing of 2 and 6 p.m. and that would be referred to the Clerk. Your interpretation to go further to suggest that all that had been done were null and void is wrong.
As such, I have to rule you out of order.”