Politics

Southwest senators ask Akpabio to stay firm as northern leaders insist on Ningi’s reinstatement

The lingering crisis in the Senate between loyalists of the President of the upper legislative chamber, Godswill Akpabio and Northern lawmakers has shifted to governors and other political leaders from the North.

The crisis that led to the suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi from Bauchi Central Senatorial District started weeks before Akpabio emerged as President of the 10th Senate in 2023.

On March 12, 2024, the Senate, led by Akpabio and three South West senators, namely, Opeyemi Bamidele (Senate Leader); Adeola Olamilekan (Appropriations Committee chairman); and Jimoh Ibrahim from Ondo State, suspended Ningi for accusing the National Assembly of padding the 2024 budget to the tune of over N3 trillion, despite attempts by some Northern lawmakers to rescue him.

Bamidele, Olamilekan and Ibrahim, all from the South West, led the push for the suspension of Ningi.

Almost three weeks after the suspension, Daily Sun reports that ranking senators from the North and some governors, have now stepped in to mediate and resolve the lingering crisis in the upper legislative chamber.

A senator from the North West, who is one the key facilitators of the peace move, said the issues would have been resolved without suspending Ningi if the three lawmakers from South West, Bamidele, Olamilekan and Ibrahim had not mounted pressure on Akpabio to act.

The lawmaker said some governors who were worried about the ethnic dimensions of the crisis reached out to Akpabio to apply caution and recall Ningi, who they said has the backing of leading politicians from the North.

He, however, revealed that when Akpabio tabled the issue before his close allies, especially lawmakers from the South West, they were opposed to it, insisting that Ningi must serve out his suspension despite an existing court judgment that a lawmaker cannot be suspended for more than two weeks.

“Akpabio had to ignore them and has resolved to recall Ningi. Ningi has a support base, and many Northern senators and leaders see the suspension as an attack on the region. But some people want to maintain their ego and they feel they control what happens in the Senate.

“Very senior senators from the North reached out to Akpabio. Former and serving governors also reached out and informed him about the dangers of bringing ethnicity into the chambers, as demonstrated by the Leader of the Senate, Opeyemi Bamidele.

“Akpabio has a task. There are many things the Senate plans to do, and if you have a divided house, nothing will work there.

“He knows this and had to find a good excuse to get out of the mess those three South West senators put him in. So, that letter by Femi Falana written on behalf of Ningi is a good excuse,” the lawmaker revealed.