Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Deposed Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, may have accepted his fate on Wednesday, but still had to warn the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to beware of similar fate befalling him.
Ndume was removed from his position as the Leader of the Senate on Tuesday by his colleagues of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Upper Chamber, who promptly replaced him with Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Rising on Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules, Ndume faulted his sudden removal as the Senate Leader, while he went outside the Red Chamber to pray.
He, however, warned that it may be him at the moment, that it may be the Deputy Senate President next.
He said that he was supposed to have been informed of any wrongdoings he may have committed as a Majority Leader by the APC Senate caucus before carrying out his removal in the way and manner it was done.
He specifically accused Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) of spearheading the plot against him through secret collection of signatories of about 38 out of 61 APC senators on Tuesday morning right in the Senate Chamber without any decision to that effect at any meeting of the caucus.
“I was not at any point told of my wrong doing as it were, but what Dino did, calls for caution on the part of the Senate. Today, it is Ali Ndume. God forbid, tomorrow, it could be Ekweremadu,” he said.
He added that his removal would not, in any way, make him to lose vibrancy in the Senate as a committed federal lawmaker, who will collaborate with others in ensuring good governance in the country through development-driven legislation.
“I thank God that throughout my service as the Senate Leader, most of the times my colleagues casually will say: ‘Leader, we are proud of you’. I was not found wanting for anything that I know, and because of the unity of this Senate that is more important than myself. Three times, I offered to resign, and if that will bring peace; but I believe that God’s time is the best.
“You are one of those that even warned me here to stop saying that I will resign. But yesterday, I was not around when the change of leadership was announced.
“In fact, if the number of those that lost confidence in me is not up to this number, and I am made to know, I will resign because I did not become a senate leader in other to lose confidence of any of you, and that is why I am concerned about the loss of confidence because as far as I know, I have not done anything wrong.
“But then just like that the Senate caucus has the right to say we have lost confidence in you, and I think that should be now that I have said it, I think it’s on record that I did not do anything – not to the best of my knowledge. I did not do anything, but as I said, since my colleagues consciously, 38 of them, signed it, so be it.
“Having said that, I want to say that this Senate is an institution that we must protect. How to protect the institution is to obey the rules and the tradition. If today, just like that without telling somebody, and he goes out, if it is Ndume today and it’s ok, it may be, God forbid, Ekweremadu tomorrow,” he said.
Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, in his remarks on Ndume’s submissions over his removal, played down on his complaint by thanking him for serving in the leadership within the last one and half years as he meritoriously did in the House of Representatives in the past.
Senator Kabir Marafa (APC Zamfara Central), however, took him up through a counter point of order.
Marafa, who rose also through Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules, said Ndume’s removal as the Senate Leader by the APC Senate caucus on Tuesday was in line with provisions of Order 32(6) of the Senate Standing Rules, which does not make it mandatory for any principal officer to be consulted before a vote of no confidence is passed on such officer.
“I think we have a duty, or I have a duty to also educate Nigerians on what actually happened. I am one of the proponents of following due diligence and the rule of law and I feel I have a duty to also say on behalf of this Senate that what we did yesterday (Tuesday), was in accordance with our rules and there was no breach of either the constitution or the rules of this chamber.
“I stood on this floor several times to speak about the importance of following our rules. A lot of people, who could have different meanings to different things, but I want to put it on record that what we did is in accordance with the provisions of this order.
“For what we did yesterday and it is duly followed. There was no provision in that order that says somebody has to be consulted or something. I just feel it should be put on record because somebody can ask me or ask any person that when you did something you didn’t follow your rules and I want to say that as a member of this Senate I was seated right here yesterday and I went through this thing and I know that Order 32 l(6) provided for what we did,” he said.
But Ekweremadu calmed the tide by saying: “I think we have rested this matter, and we are on live television, and Nigerians expect us to do something (more) serious than discussing our internal affairs. We have noted your point,” he said.