Former governors who are now members of the Senate are reportedly leading the group of lawmakers plotting to remove Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Despite efforts to calm frayed nerves at the Senate, lawmakers are working hard to effect a leadership change in the Upper Legislative Chambers.
Speaking to Saturday Sun, one of the former governors said that the current disquiet in the Senate came about because the leadership failed to unite the legislative arm.
He accused Akpabio of moving against lawmakers who didn’t support him when he ran for office, adding that the Senate president ignored existing practices in selecting principal officers, chairmen of ranking committees, and contributions during plenary.
The former governor said: “Political parties usually determine who are to be appointed principal officers of the Senate. That’s the practice, and the Senate President knows this.
“Akpabio is a product of that arrangement when he became Minority Leader. He was nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party them.
“In 2019, the same thing happened. It was the APC and the PDP that nominated the eight principal officers of the Senate, and Ahmad Lawan announced them.
“But as soon as Akpabio took over, he decided to come up with his style. Instead of meeting with the various caucuses of the senatorial districts and the leadership of political parties, he went to meet President Tinubu at the Villa. Those who parade themselves as APC principal officers in the Senate were selected by the Villa and Akpabio’s kitchen cabinet.
“APC and the PDP protested, and Akpabio ignored them. For instance, in the PDP, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who is the most ranking in the Senate, was ignored by Akpabio.
“Instead, a minister in the administration of President Tinubu decided who got any position in the opposition caucus of the Senate. The leadership of the PDP also protested, but Akpabio ignored them.
“In the Southeast, ranking senators were ignored, and a first-time lawmaker was named a principal officer. That was very strange. Lawmakers protested, and Akpabio didn’t listen.”
Another former governor told the publication that Akpabio ignored existing norms in naming heads of committees.
He stated that former governors and ranking senators were given insignificant committees to head, while new lawmakers and Akpabio allies were given grade ‘A’ committees.
He said: “Some of us have spent four terms in the Senate since we left office as governors. But Akpabio went ahead and named first-timers as chairmen of very sensitive committees. Former governors who are his colleagues were given useless committees.
“We’ve tried to understand the reason behind his action. The only thing we could deduce was the fact that he only gave good committees to those who he felt supported him. That’s the only reason.
“Since he has told us we don’t matter, we will flex our muscles and do whatever it will take to keep the independence of the Senate. We’ve been made an annex to the Villa, and this is very odd.”
He stated that their fight is not just against Akpabio but about keeping the National Assembly strong.