Uproar in Senate over appointment of new minority whip 


There was uproar in Senate Tuesday during announcement of new minority leaders by its President, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

Akpabio had in making announcements for piositions of minority leader and Whip , first informed the Senate , that the minority caucus as contained in a letter given him , nominated Senator Abba Moro ( PDP  Benue South) , as minority Leader.

According to him, signatories of  41 out of 50 senators on the platform of minority parties are on the list before me, nominating Senator Abba Moro as Minority Leader. 

However , Akpabio ran into trouble waters when he added that another list was submitted to him by Minority Senators , nominating Senator Osita Ngwu (PDP Enugu West) , as new Minority Whip.

He said Ngwu’s nomination was supported by 30 signatories among the minority senators which drew spontaneous objections from most of the minority senators.

First to kick against Ngwu’s nomination as Minority Whip , was Senator Okechukwu Ezea ( LP Enugu North ) , who through order 52 of the Senate standing rules ,  protested the absence of his party in the minority leadership, describing the arrangement as injustice against other minority parties. 

“How can the PDP took three minority leadership seats? This is unfair, unjust and unacceptable,” he fumed.

In the midst of the uproar that ensued, the session thereafter degenerated into a rowdy one with verbal missile fired at the Senate President by Senator  Tony Nwoyi (LP, Anambra North) who accused Akpabio of being dictatorial. 

“How can you be chosing minority leaders for us? Are we your slaves? . Definitely we are not your slaves . 

“We were elected the way you were elected. Nobody is inferior to any other person here.

“You have done your worst by pushing us to the wall and we must react and protest against this dictatorial style of yours, imposing leaders on minorities at your will. 

“I don’t mind being suspended , what you are doing is bad and distasteful “, he thundered.

But Akpabio after about 15 minutes of rowdy session, addressed the opposition lawmakers and dismissed the claim of his interfering in the affairs of the opposition. 

Akpabio said he only announced the names forwarded to him by the opposition caucus and that it would be unfair not to respect the voice of the majority. 

He, therefore, urged the opposition caucus to always put their house in order before forwarding any name to him. 

He said, “All we need to produce a leader is a simple majority. What’s the reason for not agreeing with the position of the majority? 

“41 minority senators signed for Abah Moro and 30 signed for Osita Ngwu. They have the majority. It will be unfair for me not to announce them after getting majority of support. My job is not to work with individual opinion but with majority of position.”

Efforts by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi) to convince Akpabio to stay action on the seat of the minority whip failed as the Senate President ruled him out of order. 

Aliero explained that the opposition caucus resolved that Abba Moro should be the minority leader but was yet to decide on the position of  the minority whip.

But Akpabio referred him to Senate Standing Rule 52(6), which says it shall be out of order for any senator to speak on any issue that has already been decided. He therefore, ruled Aliero out of order.

The seats of the Senate Minority Leader and Minority Whip became vacant after Court of Appeal sacked the former occupants, Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau North) and Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central) respectively.

The appellate court nullified the election of Mwadkwon and ordered a rerun while Nwokocha was removed and Augustine Akobundu of the PDP declared as the authentic winner of the February 25, 2023 election in the senatorial district.

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