By Simeon OSAJIE
The Senate representing Plateau North Senatorial District of Plateau state under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senators Simon Mwadkwon has defended the procedure adopted for the emergence of principal officers of the opposition parties.
Recall that Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio had on Tuesday named the minority leaders without the input of the PDP, the major opposition party in the Red Chamber.
Akpabio named Senators Simon Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau) as Senate Minority Leader and Oyewunmi Olalere (PDP, Osun) as Deputy Minority Leader.
Other minority principal officers announced are Darlington Nwokeocha (LP, Abia) as (minority whip) and Rufai Hanga (NNPP, Kano) , deputy minority whip.
Senator Akpabio said the announcement was in line with agreements by the minority caucus.
He said out of the 50 senators elected on the platform of the six minority parties, 38 of them, by virtue of their clear signatures, took a decision as to who their leaders will be.
But some PDP chieftains had criticised the process.
Briefing reporters after a meeting of the opposition caucus held behind closed door on Wednesday, the Senate minority leader, Simon Devou Nwadkwon, said the process was in line with the Senate rule.
Nwadkwon said Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) empowers the Senate to make rules to regulate its procedures.
He said the process of appointing principal officers is clearly explained in the Senate rule book.
The lawmaker said, “Premised on the constitutional mandate, and by the authority of the Nigerian Senate, the Senate Standing Orders 2022 (As amended) issued as the rule book to guide the conduct of legislative businesses including the appointment of principal officers by the Senate.
“Consequently, The Senate Standing Orders (2022) in Chapter Six (6), pages 21 to 22, Senate Rules Nos. 27, 28, 29, and 30 provided for the Minority Leadership positions including the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader, and Deputy Minority Whip “Who shall be Senators, nominated from the Minority Parties in the Senate.
“The critical emphasis here is that the Officers must be (1) serving senators of the Federal of Nigeria, who are (2) members of the minority parties in the Senate and the word nominate in the Oxford language dictionary means to “Propose”. When a proposal is made, it is usually to an authority that has the confirming powers, in this case, the President of the Senate.
“Accordingly, the President of the Senate received the proposal, announced it, and publicly gaveled the Minority Leadership nominees into confirmation in line with the Senate Standing Orders.
“Despite the fact that whenever issues of political leadership are raised, you cannot discountenance the emergence of contentious voices, especially in a situation involving 6 political parties. This is expected because that in itself is the beauty and natural character of democracy whereby we disagree without being disagreeable.
“However, rather than dwell on issues of parliamentary politics we should now focus on putting machinery in place to unite all opposition parties and outline our opposition leadership agenda to the Nigerian people that will ensure a virile opposition assertiveness in the Senate to keep the ruling majority on their toes.”