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Senators, Reps set for war

Posted by From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja and JAMES OJO, Abuja on 2007/06/02 | Views: 546 |

Senators, Reps set for war


There are strong indications that some returning senators in alliance with most senators-elect are making frantic moves to stall the installation of Senator David Mark as the next Senate President.

There are strong indications that some returning senators in alliance with most senators-elect are making frantic moves to stall the installation of Senator David Mark as the next Senate President.

This is coming even as members-elect of the House of Representatives have vowed to stop Hon. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh from becoming Speaker of the House.
Leading the opposition against Mark is another senator-elect, who incidentally, comes from Benue State as Mark.

Senator Kanti Bello (PDP, Katsina North), another returning Senator, dismissed the move, however, saying that it was an exercise in futility.

This is even as the out-going Senate President, Ken Nnamani on Wednesday showed Senator Mark round the Senate President’s suite, apparently in anticipation of his taking over from him next Monday when the new Senate is likely to be inaugurated.

According to Kanti Bello, one of those who campaigned vigorously for the emergence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the alleged opposition to Mark is being spearheaded by a northern newspaper.
Hear him: "I am not aware of it (opposition), honestly and I don’t see anybody opposing what the party has recommended. It was recommended and it was agreed. Are you aware that this thing was done after the party had invited the senators-elect? It was not the party that sat down and dished out a decree. People were invited. We sat and discussed and for somebody to turn round and start complaining that he is not in agreement I think is not correct.

"It is not a question of whether I support or rejoice or whatever. We are party people and the party did not just do this alone. We are the people who accepted it this way. The party gave reasons and it should be so for anyone who supports the ranking policy in the Senate rules.

"The rule is very clear. It should be ranking senators and if the party, in its wisdom, decided to zone these things and advised, then why is somebody complaining? The complaints are not even coming from us in the Senate; it is on the pages of the newspaper. It is sponsored by a northern -based newspaper."
Also speaking, another senator-elect, Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, said: "We want to move the country forward and we have pledged our support to the new Senate president and the party has also decided that we should comply strictly with Rule 97 of the standing rule in the Senate that preference should be given to senators who were previously elected and I think that is a good one because we have come in and very soon we are going to be ranking senators too.

"In a few weeks time we will also be part of the Senate, so we have no problem and it has never been a do or die affair for me."

In a related development, the furore generated by the adoption of Hon. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh as the next speaker of the House of Representatives is threatening to tear the rank of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) apart. Indeed, her choice for the plum job continues to draw flaks from members-elect of the lower legislative house.

Curiously, the most strident opposition to Etteh’s ambition is coming from her PDP colleagues, especially members of the 2003-2007 session who have variously argued that Etteh is the least qualified of those who indicated interest in the job.

A source close to the House said neither Etteh nor her designated deputy, Hon. Babangida Nguroje, has ever headed a committee of the house, pointing out that it would be difficult for a rookie legislator who has not faced the challenges of heading a committee, where the hub of legislative activites takes place, to overnight master the more complex skills required to lead the house.

A thoroughly disappointed member of the House alleged that Etteh, who is said to have extensive business interests, especially in real estate and hospitality industry, does not have the temperament and comportment to lead the house, especially in an administration headed by a man who has pledged to lead by example.

The leadership of the PDP had settled for Mrs. Etteh, as the consensus candidate for the plum job, based on what they consider as her experience, being one of the oldest principal officers in the present assembly.

Her choice, however, did not go down well with some members who had launched attacks on her personality and why they would not accept her leadership.

Spread across the six geo-political zones, the group working against her had met twice on how to checkmate her by moving a counter motion when the new House is convened to ratify new principal officers.

A member of the opposing group vowed that they would ensure that Mrs. Etteh does not get the nod to lead the House, insisting that they would resist pressures from the party leadership to support her candidature.

As the group was making moves to subvert the party’s decision, Mrs Etteh’s loyalists, made up of powerful committee chairmen who were re-elected, had equally launched into lobbying new members.
The caucus met on Tuesday and Wednesday in one of the hotels in Abuja to finetune how to lobby new members and the cognate members to vote for her.

Dr Aminu Safana and Hon Ita Enang confirmed moves to win few members that were not happy with the choice of Mrs. Etteh by the leadership of the party, saying that the party meant well for the House.
Safana attested to the courage of Mrs. Etteh in managing the South West caucus, adding that she had garnered enough experience since she came to the National Assembly since 1999.

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