By Chukwudi Nweje / Acting Features Editor
For a consecutive second day after returning from recess, the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday adjourned plenary abruptly. Senators elected under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had first abandoned legislative process on Tuesday, threatening to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan for allegedly allowing the governors under the PDP platform take over the party structures in their various states against their interests.
Senate President David Mark, who presided, merely read a prepared address on his intention to intervene in the crisis rocking the House of Representatives which had also adjourned till December 3 after Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, defected to All Progressives Congress (APC) on October 28.
He had thereafter, informed the senators that a meeting of the PDP Caucus in the Senate would hold immediately, after which Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba moved for adjournment.
Details of the PDP caucus meeting were not made public but Ndoma-Egba told reporters that the parley was a continuation of the one they held on Tuesday over the party’s ward congresses.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “I am sure that you are aware that the PDP caucus met yesterday (Tuesday) and today (Wednesday) on fundamental issues affecting democracy in Nigeria, arising from the ward congresses of our party last Saturday. The issue needed to be addressed very urgently by relevant PDP stakeholders in the interest of our democracy.”
The PDP Senators have vowed to continue their ‘work to rule’ till their demands are met amidst protests by APC senators who described the actions of their PDP colleagues as “selfish and uncalled for”.
It is worthy of note that the Senators are protesting and insisting on the cancellation of the PDP congresses where they were allegedly schemed out. They are also insisting that they be given automatic ticket to re-contest their seats in 2015. They have threatened to shut down the government in pursuit of their goals.
The fallout of the Ward Congresses is an internal dispute of the PDP that should be resolved at the party level without dragging Nigeria into it. Regardless of whether they were schemed out during their just concluded party congresses or not the senators have no right to hold the country hostage.
If only the legislators tackle issues of lawmaking with the same zeal they undertake matters affecting them, may be Nigeria would not be facing some of the development challenges weighing it down.
But by their action, the PDP Senators have put off very important national issues, including the consideration and prompt passage of the 2015 Appropriation Bill and Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
It is indeed unfortunate that PDP legislators would descend this low and have chosen to mortgage very serious issues of national interest to pursue their individual ambitions of returning to the Senate in 2015. To make matters worse, they are resorting to blackmail in settling what should be an internal affair of their party.
To say the least, the actions of the PDP Senators, like their APC counterparts have already noted, is not only “selfish and uncalled for”, it is also a betrayal of their duty and oath of office as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section 4 (1) of the 1999 Constitution vested the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the National Assembly and Section 4 (2) among other things charged them to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof.
Unfortunately, rather than do this, the PDP Senators have chosen to put the business of law making on hold to pursue personal aggrandizement.
Olarenwaju Suraju, Chair, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is not surprised by the actions of the Senators noting that the Nigerian Senate has never worked in the interest of the masses. He said: “The Nigerian Senate remains the most reactionary, insensitive and failed institution in Nigeria. The Senators earn salaries over and above contemporaries across the world. The Senate has never represented the interest of Nigerians. I’m not surprised at all by their recent selfish posture in adjourning plenary.”
Debo Adeniran; Executive Chairman Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) said it is worrisome that issues bothering on national interest are being pushed to the background at the detriment of Nigerians.
According to him, “It is rather shameful and unfortunate that our elective representatives choose to satisfy their desire than making laws that will alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian masses. Holding the country to ransom is a slap on millions of Nigerians, therefore it is highly condemnable. There is no justification or whatever that warranted such an unconstitutional and barbaric approach to issues that normally should be within their party. This portends great danger to our democracy.”