Akume...majority leadership behind my ordeal
If you ever thought that the controversy trailing the alleged plot to unseat Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, had subsided; dust so far raised had elicited even more concerns. In this report, Dele Ogbodo, writes that the whatever becomes of the issue will be determined in the first week of September when the lawmakers reconvene
I ntrigues of the last few weeks had unveiled, albeit in a different fashion, some character traits of the Senate being the upper chamber of the National Assembly. It was the alleged plot to unseat Senator George Akume as Senate Minority Leader. Akume who is at the centre of the alleged impeachment storm, had said he was aware of all the permutations from those he called, traducers in the chambers to unseat him. But leaders of the majority had also said Akume is only crying wolf.
The alleged plot to unseat the senator from Benue North-west, had first filtered into the news room when the lawmakers were gearing up for their annual recess end of July, thus bringing to an end, its first session in the seventh Senate.
Reliable sources told THISDAY that majority of the Senators in the minority parties had the feeling ab initio that Akume was ill-prepared to lead a strong opposition based on his previous record in the sixth Senate. There were also the ill-feelings about his performance in the first session of seventh session as they were said not to be happy with the way and manner; the minority leader discharged his duties. They rather called him a mere rubber stamp, not worthy of providing the needed opposition in the chamber.
He was said to have the penchant of coming late to meetings, in addition to his lackadaisical attitude at plenary. Majority of the Senators, it was gathered, were only waiting for an opportunity to vent their displeasure at the rudderless leadership Akume had provided for the opposition parties in the chamber. The last straw was said to be during the valedictory service held for the late Senator GyangDantong where Akume was said not to have comported himself very well such that denied senators of minority parties the opportunity to speak at the occasion.
Although, there had been various theories on where the plot had emanated, observers believe that even members of his own “political family” were not averse to the move because of the embarrassment he was believed to have caused them. Yet, this had been mired in cloudy intrigues.
Obviously not taking chances, Akume is said to have taken advantage of their long recess to reach out to key actors. Besides, consulting on way forward, he was said to have solicited for a soft landing in the event that the issue took a different turn when members reconvene next week.
This is why rather than relocate to his base in Benue state or travel abroad like some of his colleagues had done, Akume had decided to hang around Abuja where he is presently working to smoothen the rough edges. Thus, basking in the euphoria, he said: “I can confidently tell you that I’m in touch with members of the opposition parties as even my party.”
But while Akume is yet to identify those allegedly behind the plot, he had pointed accusing fingers at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), even though he had declined to mention names. “Everybody is aware of what is going on, the majority leader is using a few people in the majority leadership, fortunately the party has spoken- that they have absolute confidence in Senator George Akume, not only that, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) too has said the same.”
However, Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, reacting to reports credited to Akume on the development dissociated the senate leader from his travails. In a statement entitled: “We’re not involved in alleged plot against Akume”, he said: Akume has not denied this widely reported statement as credited to him that the Senate Majority Leadership is behind the alleged plot to remove him as Minority Leader of the Senate.
“The Senate Majority Leadership is not aware of any plot to remove the Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, from office except what has been published in the newspapers by him as well as his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). We also wish to emphasize that the workings of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, do not place the emergence or removal of a Senate Minority Leader within the powers of the Senate Majority Leadership.”
In the same vein, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, also came out in stout defence of the majority party in the alleged plot. Mark called on Akume and ACN to refrain from name calling, requesting the leadership hierarchy of the party to put it in order.
Mark, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, described the allegation as crude and shocking, adding that as a Senator elected on the platform of the majority party in the Senate of PDP, he does not attend the meetings of the minority parties: “I am not a member of the minority parties. I do not attend the meetings of the minority parties. How then do I get involved in the plot to remove the minority leader?
“Election or nomination of officers of the party in the national assembly is the exclusive preserve of the political parties, how then would a non-party member get involved? The ACN or its megaphone, Lai Mohammed, should do something more positive and progressive rather than the consistent mudslinging and lies to mislead Nigerians,” he said.
Although, the drama is expected to end soon when the senate reconvenes sometime next week, there are those who strongly believe the removal plot was hatched within the ACN to accord Akume some relevance, whether or not it was of positive or negative consequence. That he had been docile is said to have constituted concerns even for the ACN leadership, but they had been lost as to how best to handle it. Besides, that the choice of principal officers is an exclusive prerogative of the parties also nullifies the argument that the plot was orchestrated by the opposition. Akume, observers insist, can only be removed by his party.
However, beyond the distraction of the last few weeks, observers advised that the ACN leadership should work on their representative with a view to giving the minority parties the required leadership within the senate formation as presently constituted.