The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, cannot be forced to decamp to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
This came as the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, has dismissed reports that the Senate Caucus of the APC is plotting to move against Ekweremadu but Na’Allah said there are No plans to impeach the deputy senate president.
In a statement issued yesterday by its spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the opposition party condemned the suggestion made by an APC senator, Kabiru Marafa, urging the deputy senate president to defect in order to retain his seat.
The party described such call “as unconstitutional, undemocratic and to say the least, unbecoming of Marafa”.
The PDP statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Marafa on the floor of the Senate on January 11, 2017, in which he advised Ekweremadu to decamp to the APC in order to remain as the Deputy Senate President.
“This call is unconstitutional, undemocratic and to say the least, unbecoming of Marafa. For the record, these are his words, “I am using this medium to call on Ekweremadu to simply decamp. Section 68(G) of the 1999 Constitution captures this. “Fortunately, there is no section or clause of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that provides that one must be a member of the ruling party before he/she can be elected into any position in the Senate or the House of Representatives.
“Equally, it is very distasteful and uncharitable for any senator to stand on the floor of the hallowed chamber and ask his colleague to violate the Constitution by cross-carpeting from his own party to join the ruling party. Note that it is Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not Senate of the APC.
PDP said it was indeed laughable for Marafa to cite the internal issues in the PDP as a reason for Ekweremadu to decamp.
“For the umpteeth time, let us re-iterate that there is no faction in the PDP. A party is only factionalised when its organs are in disarray but this is different in the PDP where all the organs are intact behind the National Caretaker Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Ahmed Makarfi. A mere rebellion by a small interest group within the party cannot be referred to as factionalisation of the party.
“In view of the above, any member of the PDP using the current leadership disagreement caused by the rebellious group led by the former Borno State Governor, Senator Modu Ali Sherrif, as excuse to decamp is doing so at his or her peril. Marafa or any other member of the APC has no power to make such demands on a member of the PDP.
“Let us remind Marafa that Ekweremadu was elected as Deputy Senate President by majority votes from both the PDP and APC senators. Any attempt to remove Ekweramadu for being a member of the opposition party and not because of a constitutional breach or incompetence is a call for anarchy.
“The current situation in the Senate where the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President are from different parties should not continue to appear strange to Marafa and his likes in a democratic system. For instance, in the Second Republic, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Umezeoke was from opposition National Peoples Party (NPP) while the Senate President was from the ruling party, the NPN, and both of them worked harmoniously with the cooperation of the executive in moving the country forward.
“Finally, we call on our members in the National Assembly to remain strong and united behind the Deputy Senate President with a determination not to allow the APC truncate our hard earned democracy through their undemocratic tendencies. To the APC lawmakers in the National Assembly, do not forget that Nigeria belongs to all of us and we must work together to protect her in order to advance our democracy.”
Meanwhile, after the Senate removed the Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, from office in a surprise move last Tuesday, speculations were rife that the APC might be itching to also remove the Deputy Senate President to actualise its dream to assert the party’s control of affairs in the National Assembly.
Some of the APC legislators were even quoted as saying that for Ekweremadu to have a reprieve, he has to defect from his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, Na’Allah said he was not aware of any such plan to oust the deputy senate president by his colleagues.
Speaking with journalists shortly after meeting with the leadership of the APC at the party’s secretariat in Abuja yesterday evening, Na’Alla said there was nothing like moving against Ekweremadu
“All these things happened when I was out of this country. I was in Germany and it is not in my character to speak about what I don’t know. But as far as I am concerned, there is nothing near to that. As far as I am concerned, I am not aware. At least, I am back and I am in the office,” he said.
He also said the APC would welcome the deputy senate president should he decide to join the party, adding that the party is a big family that will accommodate everybody.
“Please, APC is a big family and everybody is welcome. We are strengthening the party based on our belief that this country needs to be united at this critical time of our history. So, I am absolutely sure that it will be a very nice thing if he decides to come. It will equally be nice if we are able to see that any other person with the intention joins our great party.
“I am telling you that I was out of the country when all these things happened and there is nothing I can say that will be accurate in view of the fact that I wasn’t around when all the politicking took place.”
On his mission at the party secretariat, Na’Allah said: “This is the headquarters of my party and my national chairman requested to see me. That is why I am here. It has nothing to do with what transpired in the senate. If you want me to tell you why I am here, we have primary in Edo State to fill the vacancy left by the deputy governor who left the House of Representatives and I am the chairman of the committee and I just came to receive the normal briefing from my party.”