Damilola Oyedele in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, thursday administered the oath of office on the winner of the Anambra Central senatorial election, Senator Victor Umeh.
Umeh was sworn in at 10.56a.m. at the opening of the day’s plenary session.
Briefing journalists after the ceremony, Umeh said his eventual victory has been a long tedious walk, which followed a process of rule of law.
“That is the only way our democracy can survive. The case of Anambra is the longest. So much has been lost by my people, but there is no loss that would be greater than the loss of due process.
“Eventually I have been vindicated, so much was done and put in my way but there is no shortcut to what is right,” he said.
Umeh gave the assurance that he would work to deepen democracy and the rule of law, as a senator. He also promised to contribute towards robust debates in the search for a united Nigeria.
Speaking on the clamour for the restructuring of the country, Umeh lamented that Nigeria has become very divided along different lines.
Issues raised by the restructuring debate including structure and social responsibilities of government, have all been addressed by the National Conference of 2014, he said and called on the federal government to consider the report.
It was a landmark document which also addressed power sharing and political structure, Umeh said.
“It is an encyclopedia for charting the path for a good Nigeria. Unfortunately it was not given the attention it deserves.
“Restructuring has been misconstrued to mean the disintegration of Nigeria. Those holding that notion want the status quo to remain, there is no way you sustain a status quo that is full of disaffection. We need to go back to that report,” Umeh advocated.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to work to preside over a peaceful and truly united nation.
“It is easier to anchor our nation to the future by doing those things that are crucial to survival of the nation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the swearing in ceremony of Umeh as the only senator of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) yesterday caused the Anambra House of Assembly to shelve its sitting to honour him.
THISDAY who was at the assembly to cover its plenary learnt that the sitting could not hold as a result of the swearing in of the former national chairman of APGA.
It was learnt that most of the members of the assembly had gone to show solidarity to Umeh, who was sworn in yesterday.
The development however stalled the defence of the 2018 budget, which was presented to the assembly by the executive in December 2017 and billed to be defended by some ministries yesterday.
Hon Obinna Emenaka, a member of the assembly who represents Anambra East state constituency, told THISDAY that he was not aware if Umeh’s swearing in ceremony was the reason for the refusal of the assembly to sit.
He said: “I was already preparing for sitting today, but received a text message from the speaker to inform us that there would not be sitting today.
“I cannot tell you it was because of Umeh’s swearing in, but I can only say that we received a message to notify us there will not be sitting today.”
The Chairman House Committee on Information, Hon. Kingsley Iruba, could not speak with THISDAY despite repeated calls to his phone.
Umeh, who was sworn in at around 11a.m. yesterday, would be the only senator from APGA in the senate.
Meanwhile, the swearing-in also led to wild jubilation in Awka, the Anambra State capital thursday.
THISDAY gathered that as soon as the news of the swearing-in filtered into Awka, members of Umeh’s senatorial district, APGA faithful, and well wishers trooped to the street celebrating it.
Some members of the party who spoke with THISDAY expressed joy that at last, Umeh made it to the Senate.
Chief Nnaemeka Orji, a stalwart of APGA in Idemili South Local Government said last Saturday’s election and Umeh’s swearing in were the handiworks of God.
He said: “It is the hand of God working for his people, we in Anambra Central have been without a senator representing us thereby losing our entitlements at the federal level and some people who claim to love the zone were comfortable with it.
“They (enemies of Umeh) kept jeopardising every effort to conduct a rerun election for the zone for two years now until the creator of heaven and earth said enough is enough.
For Chief Dan Ogbuefi, Umeh’s swearing-in has brought peace to the zone, just as it has put a stop to unnecessary and unending litigations.
He said: “We have suffered for two years, do you know what that means? The empowerment that would have come to our people, the employments, at least personal staff and other favours that would have come our way, all these are what we have been suffering. We however thank God that today He has shown that he has the superior power over all of us no matter our wealth and connections.”