Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi said recent remarks of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John-Odigie Oyegun on his party’s displeasure over the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President has confirmed claims of political witch-hunt of its most high ranking chieftain in government by the ruling party.
Senate President Bukola Saraki and Ekweremadu were arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged conspiracy and forgery of Senate Standing Rules.
Oyegun had said in a recent interview that his party would never accept Ekweremadu as the deputy president of the Senate.
“I think the thing that rankled us most was the election of Ekweremadu as deputy Senate president.
Saraki is a member of the APC, much as the main line of the party would have wished a different result and a different scenario. But we all find it very, very difficult to accept the emergence of a PDP person as his deputy.”
Makarfi who spoke through the spokesperson of his team, Dayo Adeyeye declared that Oyegun’s remarks confirmed PDP ‘s stance that the arraignment of Ekweremadu was part of an orchestrated plot to intimidate, harass and ultimately, hound them out of their exalted positions.
“Although this has been an open secret, our fears have now been confirmed by the APC national chairman himself.
“We, however, want to make it clear that the APC has no constitutional or moral grounds to be displeased with Ekweremadu’s emergence or to go this ridiculous length to harass, intimidate, embarrass, and malign him and the institution of the Senate on account of a position to which his colleagues, cutting across party lines, elected him in a transparent and televised election in line with Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
The statement expressed concern over what it viewed as the disdain against the leadership of the Senate by certain chieftains of the APC who in the recent past justified the emergence of incumbent governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker of House of Representatives in the 7th Assembly.
The statement read in part:
Even the APC as a party and through its chieftains, including President
Muhammadu Buhari (before his election), had variously and robustly defended the constitutionality and imperativeness of bi-partisan
legislative leadership during the defection of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal to its fold while in opposition without relinquishing his position.
For the record, below were the comments from APC leaders in support of Tambuwal’s action:
The former National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed averred: “I must say that this historic development means that our democracy is growing by the day and it is dynamic…We think that having
the head of the legislature from the opposition party makes a balanced setting in government and it is good for democracy. “Those who are saying this has not happened before and that Tambuwal should step aside as Speaker do not have the backing of history and the Constitution.Former Minority Leader and current Majority Leader of the House of
Representatives, Femi bajabiamila said: “We are proud to acknowledge that the Speaker remains not only a member of the House of Representatives, but also its Speaker.
This position is consistent with the law and practice in a presidential system of government and Nigeria is no different. For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution requires only that the Speaker or deputy speaker of the House of Representatives
shall be elected by members of that House from amongthemselves.
President Muhammadu Buhari hailed: “We will like to thank Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal for what he did yesterday. We were overwhelmed. Taking such a remarkable risk and sending everybody on holidays till December is an achievement.
“Meanwhile, Terkimbi Kyange of the Minority APC was elected Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly on June 5, 2015, four clear days ahead of the inauguration of the 8th
Senate. “Peter Azi of the Minority APC was likewise elected Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly in June 2015.
“The Majority PDP made do with the position of deputy speaker in both instances, but accepted this as part of our democratic evolution.
“We therefore, invite the APC-led Federal Government to tell the world
why bi-partisan leadership in the legislature was good in the instances of Tambuwal as well as the Benue and Plateau Assemblies, but an abomination in the case of Senator Ekweremadu.
“We consider APC’s stance on Ekweremadu and his continued persecution on this account as the height of duplicity, intolerance, and executive
excesses unwarranted and inexcusable in a democracy.
“More so, unlike APC’s rancorous opposition in parliament in the recent
past, the PDP lawmakers, including Senator Ekweremadu has provided a very responsible opposition, supporting the government and overlooking its serial fumbles. Ekweremadu is not APC’s stumbling block!
“We wish to remind the APC that the National Assembly is a separate arm of government created by constitution, not an arm of the Executive or extension of the APC’s Party secretariat.
“We totally align with the separate resolutions of the Senate and House
of Representatives on 21st of June 2016 to the effect that our democracy is in grave danger.
“We support the call on members of the International community, the media,and civil society to help arrest this scary deterioration of our nascent democracy and democratic values before it is too late.
“What is good for the goose is good also for the gander sic)!”