President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm the appointment of seven new ministerial nominees. The request was contained in a letter, which was read during plenary yesterday.
The new nominations came as the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the red chamber appointed Senators Phillip Aduda (FCT) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) as the new Minority Leader and Minority Whip, respectively.
Meanwhile, three senators from APC resigned their membership of the ruling party and joined the opposition. They are Senators Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), Lawal Yahaya Gumau (Bauchi South), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North). While Kaita and Alimikhena defected to the opposition PDP, Gumau defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
In another development, the House of Representatives, yesterday, stepped down a motion seeking to override Buhari for failing to assent to Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill, 2022, which provides for statutory delegates.
The ministerial nominees whose names were sent to the senate for confirmation included Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh – Abia State; Umana Okon Umana – Akwa Ibom State; Ekumankama Joseph Nkama – Ebonyi State; and Goodluck Nana Opiah – Imo State.
Others were Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub – Kano State; Ademola Adewole Adegoroye – Ondo State; and Odum Odi – Rivers State.
They would replace ministers, who resigned their appointments in the wake of the APC presidential primary election recently.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan read Buhari’s letter requesting confirmation of the nominees on the floor of the Senate during plenary.
Buhari state in the letter that the confirmation request was in accordance with the provisions of Section 147 subsection 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
Meanwhile the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the red chamber has appointed Senators Phillip Aduda (FCT) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) as the new Minority Leader and Minority Whip respectively.
Lawan read the letter from PDP on the choice of new Minority Leader and Minority Whip at the start of plenary. National Secretary of PDP, Senator Samuel Anyawu, signed the letter.
Aduda’s nomination was sequel to the resignation of the former Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. Abaribe announced his defection from PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) last week.
PDP, in its letter to the senate president, explained that Utazi’s nomination as new Minority Whip was as a result of the elevation of Aduda to the position of Minority Leader.
House Steps Down Motion to Override Buhari’s Veto on Statutory Delegates
The House of Representatives stepped down a motion seeking to override Buhari for failing to assent to Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill, 2022, which provides for statutory delegates.
The move to override the president’s veto followed the failure of majority of lawmakers currently serving in the Senate and House of Representatives to secure their return tickets at the party primaries held last month. The mass failure was blamed on the ad hoc delegate system of candidates’ selection.
Two members of PDP, Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, and Hon. Ben Igbakpa, who were among those that failed to get tickets to seek re-election, had protested on the floor of the House last Wednesday.
The National Assembly passed and transmitted the proposed legislation to the president about 30 days ago, the window within which the legislature could veto the president’s decline of assent to the bill.
Igbakpa, who represents Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta State, had at the plenary last week raised a constitutional point of order, citing Section 58 (8) of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers the National Assembly to enact laws and also override the president with two0third majority of the members’ vote.
Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who affirmed that Mr. President was in breach of the 30 days provided to communicate his decision to withhold assent, urged Igbakpa to formally present a motion in that regard.
Presenting the motion, titled, “Need to Invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to Pass Again the Electoral Act, 2022,” at plenary, Igbakpa noted that the time frame for the president to assent or decline assent to the bill elapsed since June 11.
He lamented that the inability of the president to perform his constitutional duty was an affront on Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which empowered the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof.
Igbakpa said the continued inaction of the president in either assenting or vetoing the bill had left a lacuna in Nigeria’s constitutional democracy, which portended danger for the 2023 electoral process and other subsequent staggered elections of some states. This left the congresses of political parties in the hands of ad-hoc delegates to the detriment of statutory delegates.
The lawmaker prayed his colleague to invoke Section 58(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) with respect to the bill and communicate the position of the House of Representatives to the senate for concurrence.
However, after presenting the motion, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase, who presided over the session, said according to the House rules, a motion could not be used to override a bill, hence the lawmaker should step down the motion and liaise with the chairman, Rules and Business, Hon. Hassan Fulata, to do the needful.
Reacting, Igbakpa reminded the deputy speaker that the speaker, Gbajabiamila, was the one who directed him last week to bring the matter in form of a motion.
Speaking, also, on the matter, Chairman, House Committee on Navy, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau), said if the motion mover would be able to instigate the National Assembly to have the required 240 members that would vote yes to override the president on that law and if the intention of overriding him was to address that lacuna then he would support it.
APC Loses Three More Senators to Opposition Parties
Three APC senators resigned their membership of the ruling party. Senators Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North) defected to PDP, while Lawal Yahaya Gumau (Bauchi South), joined the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The notice of their resignation and defection was contained in three separate letters read during plenary by Lawan yesterday.
Kaita’s letter read in part, “As senator representing Katsina North Senatorial District, I write to formally notify you of my resignation from the APC, and registration declaration for the PDP.
“My resignation from the APC was born out of the marginalisation of critical stakeholders by the state government and leadership of the party in Katsina State, where small people like me do not have a chance.
“I have since been joyful and graciously accepted into the fold of the PDP in Katsina State.”
Alimikhena, on the other hand, explained that his decision to resign from APC was the result of “continuing and multifaceted crisis that has bedevilled the APC”, especially in his senatorial district. “That has created parallel executives that has undermined internal discipline, cohesion and focus,” he said.
The defection of the three lawmakers reduced the total number of APC senators from 64 to 62 in the upper chamber, while PDP has risen from 39 to 41. Also, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) now has two, Young Progressive Party (YPP), one, and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) one.
The remaining two seats are vacant due to the positions of National Chairman and Deputy National Chairman of APC now occupied by Senators Adamu Abdullahi (Nasarawa West) and Abubakar Kyari (Borno North).