The calm that reigned in the Senate since its return from recess last week was shattered yesterday.
Senator Godswill Akpabio called for the reconstitution and restructuring of the upper chamber — in line with the numerical strength of parties. “The majority must always preside over the minority,” he said.
He threatened to stop contributing in plenary unless his desired change is carried out.
Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North West) spoke at a news conference after yesterday’s plenary during which he was temporarily barred from making contributions by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Akpabio, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and resigned as the minority leader, said the Senate president should follow suit after Saraki’s defection to the PDP from APC.
He added that while the minority should have its say, the majority should have its way for peace to prevail.
The Senate, he insisted, must be properly constituted and senators must sit according to political parties.
“You cannot have 10 senators presiding over the affairs of 80 senators and expect peace to reign,” Akpabio said.
He went on: “On the other side, having me move from the PDP to the APC, I think it is a jolly good movement and I am excited that I have a much greater opportunity to relate directly with the government and not my voice to be heard from a partisan point of view.
“Being part of the ruling party now, whatever advice or contributions I will make will not be looked at with suspicion. They will now know that I am saying it from a patriotic point of view and for the fact that I want things to work better.
“I moved in national interest. I saw a kind of slight towards disorder, where many of my colleagues saw defection as a weapon against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I don’t believe that we should bring a government into being without supporting that government to succeed. If the administration slides and Nigeria slides into anarchy, it is our children that will suffer. I moved to stabilise the polity.
“I moved from PDP to APC, to make sure that this government works before election. It should not be all about election; it should be first about Nigeria. Let others also move in national interest.
“I did not just move like that, I was a (Minority) Leader in the Senate. I resigned my position in order to show that, yes, I meant business. Let others who also have positions in the Senate who wish to also cross carpet from one political party to another also resign their positions and take a cue from what Godswill Akpabio did.
“There is the need for us to restructure the Senate. Behind where I sat today, my very good friend, distinguished Senator Shittu; it was after the little noise in the Senate that he told me that he was now in the PDP and I said ‘why are you sitting here?’
“Don’t you think there is the need for us to restructure the Senate? PDP will sit on a side, APGA will sit where they are supposed to, and the ruling party, which still forms the majority, will still sit where they are supposed to sit.
”The leadership should be restructured in a way that the majority can have their way and the minority will have their say. That is the practice all over modern democracies.
“You cannot have a political party with 10 members, another with 80 members, and the 10 members will now produce the leadership.
“Does it happen anywhere in the world? Nigeria is not different. We are running a democracy. That is what I meant when I said I would speak when the Senate is well restructured and reconstituted.”
During plenary, there was commotion for over 30 minutes.