It was not unexpected that Senator Abdullahi Adamu, representing Nasarawa West, was caught in the eye of a storm last week over his opposition to the change in the sequence of the general election, writes Damilola Oyedele
Last week did not end without some of the familiar drama in the senate. The drama, which began penultimate week over the change in the sequence of the general election continued, with Senator Abdullahi Adamu, losing his position as the Chairman of the influential Northern Senators Forum.
Adamu is former Governor of Nasarawa from 1999 to 2007, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), before he moved to the Senate in 2011. He is therefore a second term senator, and one of those who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2015 general election.
Adamu’s Pro-Buhari Stance
For many who know Adamu, he is a staunch and unwavering supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose perceived failings have earned him lots of criticisms from citizens and politicians alike.
During Senate plenary sessions whenever policies, actions or inactions of the president are being criticised by the lawmakers, who sometimes have unkind words for the administration, Adamu is usually one of the few voices, who caution against unnecessary criticisms of the President.
It is therefore not a surprise to many that he opposed the amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act 2010, to provide for the National Assembly elections to be conducted first, followed by the governorship and state assemblies, and the presidential polls to be conducted last, all on separate days.
The amendment, when signed into law, is expected to reduce the bandwagon effect of elections, and reduce the influence of state governors in picking state legislators.
When the amendment was adopted by the Senate recently, Adamu led eight other senators in a walk-out from proceedings to address the media, where they accused Senate President Bukola Saraki of not following due process in passing the amendment, alleging also that he did not allow a vote count. They also alleged that the amendment was ‘hurriedly passed’ with a pre-determined motive, and that it was targeted at the president, if he seeks re-election.
The other senators, who walked out with him are Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta APC), Binta Garba (Adamawa APC), Ali Wakili (Bauchi APC), Kurfi Umaru (Katsina APC), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers APC), Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi APC), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina APC) and Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo APC).
Adamu, addressing the media, flanked by members of the group, said the amendment was targeted at weakening Buhari in the 2019 polls, adding that only INEC, as the electoral body is constitutionally empowered to fix election schedules. He queried the haste in passing the amendment if it was without ulterior motive.
“Considering the strategic importance of the bill, it does not need to be rushed. So many members of the committee did not sign. We need to know why they did not sign. I believe that the content of the bill is not fair. We need to be fair. Why the rush? We will all pass out one day. Why do we want to pass a law? I will not be part of it,” he said.
Adamu as Enemy Within
It should be recalled that early this year as the senators resumed after their New Year recess, the news filtered in that there was an attempt by the executive arm of government to impeach Saraki and replace him as President of the Senate.
Adamu was fingered as the ‘point-man’ in the Senate, who would facilitate the move among the lawmakers.
On a January 17, 2018 debate on insecurity, Senator Hamman Misau, had warned that the plot to remove Saraki from office has remained strong, over fears that he may defect from the ruling APC, thus creating problems for the party.
The plot, he said, gained traction during the Christmas recess of the National Assembly and was being spearheaded by a minister. Misau, however, did not mention the name of the minister, whom he accused of trying to lobby some senators to execute the plot.
“When we were on holiday, so many people were going behind (to senators), pleading that we should try and remove the Senate President. It was a minister that was spearheading this thing. What was the reason? They said that the Senate President would leave APC, that it would create problems from him (Saraki). What kind of country is this? Everything is about religion and about tribe,” he said.
Senator Dino Melaye was however more direct on his twitter page where he alleged that the plot was being spearheaded by a Senator from Nasarawa.
“The Nasarawa Senator plotting Saraki’s removal is a joker. No shaking! He used Saraki’s name to get off EFCC before, now his son again has been arraigned by EFCC, he wants to play the same card. Agbaya! We dey wait. 98 senators are unwavering on Saraki,” the tweet read.
Adamu is the only senator from Nasarawa, whose son is currently battling corruption charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Senators Move to Clip His Wings
Perhaps to indicate a full cup, Adamu was unceremoniously and without warning, removed as the NSF chairman on Wednesday, on allegations that he mismanaged N70 million belonging to the forum. He was also accused of taking decisions without consulting the forum, and causing the forum to be inactive and moribund.
According to Melaye, who is the Public Relations Officer of the Forum, the decision was taken by a majority of members at a meeting.
Adamu, in an interview with a TV station aired Thursday morning, however maintained that the allegations against him are baseless and false, and that he was removed as a result of his opposition to the amendment.
In another interview with a daily newspaper, Adamu said the forum did not have N70 million in its kitty, for him to misappropriate. He also said there was no meeting to discuss his removal, but was engineered by a handful of senators.
“I was at the Senate (on the day of removal) but left to attend to a manager from one of the banks and while I was with him, some colleagues came in to say some handful of senators, Dino (Melaye) went with some papers to see the presiding officer, Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, that some Northern senators have signed that they would remove me as chairman of the Northern Senators Forum. I was not elected that way. This is just like throwing something at me because of what I said on Wednesday on amendment to the Electoral Act,”
Adamu said the allegations were just to smear his name and justify his removal.
Unfortunately, Adamu’s story shares closely with that of a former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who was suspended for about six months, allegedly for wrongly accusing two of his colleagues: Saraki and Melaye. Although there were several interventions from Ndume’s people who had pleaded on his behalf with the senate, it did not change anything as he served out his punishment.