A ROW like that of the House of Representatives over the division in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was averted at the Senate on Wednesday.

Sensing danger on the floor of the Senate following arguments over membership of old and the new PDP, Mark quickly mediated, assuring his colleagues that so far as the party remained one, the upper legislative chamber was not in a position to decide who was its head.
Satisfied that the two warring camps still claimed the party membership, Mark called for calm on the floor to enable the chamber to concentrate on its duties.
“I am satisfied that Goje said he was still in PDP. The issue of chairmanship is not for us to decide,” he said.
Senator Smart Adeyemi, coming under Order 53 of the Senate’s Standing Rule, had challenged Senator Danjuma Goje, who claimed to belong to the “new and authentic PDP.”
Adeyemi noted that it was offensive for Goje, who has served as a governor and still serving as a lawmaker on the PDP’s platform to support a faction in the party.
He, therefore, urged Goje, not only to withdraw his statement but also to tender an unreserved apology to PDP members for using offensive language against the party.
While eulogising the former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, Goje introduced himself as belonging to the new PDP.
He said: “As long as I am concerned, I belong to the new PDP chaired by Abubakar Baraje. I was a member of PDP long before Adeyemi. In fact, I am more PDP than him.”
The Senate later observed a minute silence in honour of Agagu, whose death occurred on September 13 at the age of 65. It also resolved to send a delegation to commiserate with the family, government and the people of Ondo State.
This followed a motion raised by Senators Boluwaji Kunlere (Ondo South), Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central) and Robert A. Boroffice (Ondo North) on the demise of the former governor and minister.
As the senators met, there was anxiety over the late preparation and enactment of the 2014 Budget Act.
This is because the Senate refused to debate the 2014-2016 Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) sent to it last week by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Instead, the upper legislative chamber directed its Committees on Finance and Appropriation to study the document, identify its flaws, and meet with the Executive arm of government with a view to correcting those flaws and submitting a report on it for debate within two weeks.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act requires that the MTEF and FSP be debated and passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly before the Appropriation Bill could be presented to the National Assembly by the President.
The Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, had barely presented the MTEF and FSP for Senate’s consideration when calls for its outright rejection began to mount.
The Minority Leader, George Akume, was swift in informing the Senate that the document as presented was full of flaws.
According to him, the information contained in the MTEF and FSP was inaccurate and could lead to a very faulty budget if used to prepare the 2014 budget.
Akume said that the relevant stakeholders like the National Assembly and the states were not consulted before the document was submitted.
He urged the Senate to immediately return the document to the Executive arm pending when they were able to do a better work and re-submit it.
But Mark quickly waded in and advised his colleagues that the best thing to do was to refer the document to the Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriation to do more consultation on the matter and submit an improved version of the document for the consideration of the Senate.
Meanwhile, the splinter group of the PDP led by Baraje insisted that the suit they filed against the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led executive at an Ikeja High Court should continue.
It urged the court presided over by Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie to dismiss the preliminary objections filed by the Tukur-led executive against their suit.
In the suit, Baraje and other claimants, including Sam Jaja and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had asked the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining Tukur and three others from parading themselves as PDP National Executive Committee members.
Apart from Tukur, others named as defendants in the suit are Uche Secondus, Deputy National Chairman; Kema Chikwe, Women Leader and Olisa Metuh, National Publicity Secretary.
But Tukur and his co-defendants had on September 18 urged the court to strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction.
They argued that the writs of summons did not comply with the mandatory requirements of Section 97 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act because they were not signed.
Also, counsel to Secondus, Chikwe and Metuh, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), who adopted Nwaiwu’s submissions, also urged the court to dismiss the suit, stressing that its jurisdiction was circumscribed by law.
After taking submissions, the trial judge, Justice Adefope-Okojie, fixed ruling on the vexed issue of jurisdiction for October 10.
Besides, the North-West Zonal Vice Chairman of the PDP, Ambassador Ibrahim Musa Kazaure, said in Sokoto yesterday that the seven aggrieved PDP governors and people like him were fighting to ensure the supremacy of the party’s constitution.
Kazaure spoke while fielding questions from reporters at Sultan Abubakar III International Airport at the end of a two-day visit by Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido.
Yesterday too, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, absolved Jonathan of masterminding the alleged impeachment against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
He described the Baraje’s colleagues as persons driven by inordinate ambition.
Gulak, who spoke with reporters at the National Assembly as part of the move by the Presidency to strengthen the relationship between the Legislature and the Executive, also dismissed the existence of a “New PDP”, stating that “what we are witnessing is a mad pursuit of unrealizable ambition by a few people who are blinded by ambition, who cannot see anything good in their own country.”
On the alleged $25,000 bribe to facilitate the impeachment plot, he said: “That is not true, it can never be true, you know the president is a different president. Please and please and I plead with you to see him as who he is, he says what he means and means what he says. Since he became President, he is the only one whose tenure has not been bogged down by the so-called banana peels in the National Assembly. He supports the stabilisation of the National Assembly. All these stories are figments of people’s imagination, especially those who believe that they ought to be in the lead in this country and not the present leadership.”
And a PDP chieftain in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, has faulted reports of impeachment threat against the leadership of the National Assembly.
In a statement yesterday, Kashamu said the allegation being made by the Baraje-led group was “a clever-by-half move to blame another person for their own plot.”
He said the authentic national leadership of the party does not have any reason to instigate the impeachment of the leadership of the National Assembly because it enjoys the support of the leadership of the Legislature and most of its members.
Kashamu said that in view of the claims and counter-claims by the various sides to the crisis, the relevant security, regulatory and anti-graft agencies should investigate the report of the alleged movement of N700 million from Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, into Abuja.
Kashamu wondered what the N700 million was meant for, “if few days after, precisely on Tuesday, September 17, 2013, Alhaji Baraje led his gang to the National Assembly where violence erupted. We ask: What was the money meant for? Was it meant to bribe the lawmakers that supported them? Or was it meant to facilitate the impeachment of Mr. President? How come a bank is involved in the movement of such an amount of physical cash in this age of e-banking?”
He noted that the dissidents are planning to stop the President in spite of the subsisting judgment of the Abuja High Court, which dismissed the suit filed by one Cyriachus Njoku who sought to stop the President from seeking re-election on the grounds that he had taken the oath of office twice.
“It should be recalled that Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi held in the judgment that President Jonathan had not yet served two terms as substantive president,” Kashamu said.
The judge held inter alia: “The first defendant (Jonathan) neither contested the office of the President before 2011 nor got nomination of his party to contest same election before 2011. Jonathan, to my knowledge, in 2007 contested the general election as a vice president and nothing more.
“Section 135 (2) of the 1999 Constitution spells out the tenure of the President to be four years single term, while Section137 (1b) prescribes that the President can only be administered with oath of office and oath of allegiance twice.
“In the case of Jonathan, his mere assumption of the office of the President was necessitated by what the National Assembly described as doctrine of necessity because of the demise of late President Umaru Yar’Adua. It is therefore the interpretation of this court that Section 135 (2) can only be applicable with the person elected as president.
“Jonathan’s emergence as President on May 6, 2010 did not amount to his being elected; and so, the action did not give credence to the allegation of first oath taking.
“In the circumstance of the foregoing, Jonathan is just serving his first tenure, and therefore free to seek nomination of his party or any other political party if he so wishes to fulfil his presidential ambition.”