By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The four year old hostility between the senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart yesterday resumed at even more dangerous level, as the senators from both parties yesterday clashed over seats, which degenerated into a near fisticuff.
The commotion started when the senator representing Akwa Ibom North East, Bassey Akpan (PDP), rose through a point of Order 43, called the attention of the senate to an alleged plot by the APC in Akwa Ibom, to create crisis in the forth coming governorship election in the state.
He said the plan is for the Independent National Electoral Commission, through this crisis, to cancel the election in Akwa Ibom and use the federal might to rig the election for APC in the election that would be rescheduled thereafter.
“Mr President, I rise through order 43 under self explanation to draw the attention of Senate and by extension, the good people of Nigeria to plot being hatched by leadership of the APC in Akwa Ibom State to cause mayhem in the state during the gubernatorial election slated for Saturday , March 2, 2019 across 29 states in the country.
“The plot of the Akwa Ibom APC chieftains to scuttle the election in the state through violence , is to ensure cancellation of the election in the State on that day for an isolated exercise later , upon which the so called federal might would now be used to rig it in favour of their candidate.
“Akwa Ibom is a PDP state that is working and well known to all Nigerians . It is a very peaceful state , the reason why i am raising this alarm on planned violence against the state in 2019 general elections by APC leaders in the State”.
The altercation was triggered when the former Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, who also comes from Akwa Ibom, but on the platform of APC, wanted to counter this allegation, but the Senate President,
Bukola Saraki, refused to allow him to speak with Ali Ndume’s microphone.
Saraki insisted that Akpabio should go to his seat or use another seat where the microphone works, but Akpabio insisted, resulting in other APC senators backing him to pressurize Saraki to allow him to speak from Ndume’s seat.
The APC senators who rose in defence of Akpabio were: Kabiru Marafa, Barau Jubrin, Ahmed Lawan, Ali Ndume, among others. The senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who approached Saraki at his presiding seat many times while the conflict lasted to ask him to rescind his position, pointedly accused the Senate President of discriminating against the APC senators.
He said though they have six to seven months to end the 8th senate, they should manage themselves till the end, adding that no body should stoke violence, emphasizing that no senator should be discriminated against.
According to him, sitting arrangement in the senate had
disorgabised since July when senators defected from APC to PDP and vice versa.
In reaction to the rowdy development, the PDP senators, led by Dino Melaye, threw jibes at the APC senators, insisting that no senator should be allowed to speak from a seat where the microphone does not work.
At this point, another PDP senator, Emmanuel Paulker, who raised another point of order, said according to the senate standing rules, the Order 43 as raised by senator Akpan does not require any debate and as such, there was nothing for Senator Akpabio to defend. He was as expected, shouted down by APC senators.
Even efforts made by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to restore sanity through a point of order proved abortive as Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan and Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central) interupted him by shouting that Akpabio should be allowed to speak in an already charged atmosphere where Senators like Dino Melaye (PDP Kogi West) openly confronted the APC senators with threats of blow.
Speaking in a lame efforts to calm the dangerously charged atmosphere, the Senate President, who was obviously battling to save his head, said “Distinguished colleagues , I never prevented Akpabio from speaking but he cannot do so from a seat without a microphone and allocated to him by the clerk of the Senate.
“He should go to a seat with microphone to make his submission”, he said.
But when finally allowed to speak from Senator Ndume’s seat, Akpabio who had earlier demanded for apology from the Senate for being so treated, apologised to his colleagues for the pandemonium and told them that for peace to reign, he will defer his reaction to another legislative day.
“This is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not of any political parties, the very reason we should be bipartisan in our conduct.
“I want to apologise to my colleagues for raising my voice earlier on and hold my peace by not making any reaction to the allegation made by Senator Akpan”, he said.
However after the plenary at a press briefing, Akpabio dismissed Akpan’s allegation as empty.
He said Akpan reporting to the senate was like the aggressor claiming to be a victim, and crying wolf where there is none as victims of violence in the State are even APC members and not PDP.
“With first line elections both on February 16, 2019 and March 2,
2019, APC candidates will win because 80% of electorates in the state
are now with the party”, he boasted.