The Nigerian Senators were at the Red Chamber Wednesday but their eyes were far ahead of them to 2019 and how the elections would pan out.
At the centre of the day’s business is the bill for the re-ordering of the sequence of elections in 2019. To the uninitiated, it was an innocuous bill meant to deliver better election to Nigerians.
But for the senators, it was not that simple. They were only seeing what it portends for the political order in the coming election year.
For this reason, the Senate was sharply divided over the adoption of the conference committee report on the amendment to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Act.
Some senators of the ruling All progressives Congress think that the reordering was a ploy against the reelection of president Muhammadu Buhari.
But how that would specifically impinge of the results of the elections they would not say.
The aggrieved senators condemned the amendment to section 25 of the Act which re-arranged the order of the 2019 elections.
Following the amendment, the election of federal lawmakers comes first before that of the state lawmakers and state governors, with the last being the presidential election.
The group which was led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Nasarawa-APC, said the Senate was not painstaking in its treatment of the report.
Besides, they also insinuated that the re-ordering of the election was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari whom they believe would not be “favoured” in the election.
Said Adamu: “We are against what has happened. We are not the only ones. If you take note of the report that was circulated, the chairman and co-chair did not sign. We don’t know why they didn’t sign.
“Why do we want to make a law that addresses one particular issue targeted at a person. This is very partisan. You could see from the body language, from the utterances that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government. Whatever incumbency given to anyone we are denying that one. We are not part of this endorsement.”
The position is clearly intriguing since the ruling APC has controlling majority in both chambers of the National Assemby.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Delta-APC, said the report would not have scaled through if the right thing was done.
He said if voting had been allowed, then the amendment would have been upturned.
“For some of you who are familiar with what transpired in the House of Reps, only 36 members were on the floor when this so-called amendment to section 25 of the Electoral Act was introduced. The position we took is that 36 people cannot determine the destiny of 360 people in the house, which is now being carried over to 109 in the Senate.
“The least we are owed is for this so-called amendment to be deliberated upon and our rule is clear.
“We have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of section 25 of the Electoral Act. If that division was allowed today, 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to section 25,” he argued.
Pointing out that the re-ordering of the election was not good for the economy of the country, Ali Wakili, Bauchi-APC, said having to conduct four elections in one month was out of place.
“Why did they wait until after the INEC has come out with timetable? If we look at the cost-benefit to the economy, four elections in one month will be too staggering. It is not well for the economy, politics, and security.
“We had inside this chamber considered conference reports and we dissolved into house, looked at it clause by clause, raised observations and returned it to the House of Reps. Why must it be different in this case?” Wakilu said.
As far as Kurfi Umaru (Katsina-APC) is concerned, the action of the Senator is absolutely wrong.
“We are lawmakers, elections is for INEC. Why should we bother ourselves with election? This thing they are doing is absolutely illegal. There is no way they can achieve,” he declared.
Binta Garba, Adamawa-APC, also expressed her view: “Now we are having economic crisis in our hands and instead of us to look at the welfare and wellbeing of our people, we are looking at selfish interest.”