Ousted Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume yesterday warned that the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu might likely be the next target to be removed from his seat.
Ndume, who faulted the process of his removal, spoke under the cover of “personal explanation”.
Although the Borno South Senator seemed to have accepted the fate that befell him in good faith, he warned that Ekweremadu might be the next principal officer to be axed.
Senate President Bukola Saraki announced the removal of Ndume on Tuesday as recommended by All Progressives Congress (APC) Senate caucus.
He warned Ekweremadu, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, to watch his back.
Ndume, who insisted that he did not do anything to warrant his removal, said he offered three times to resign if that would bring peace in the chamber.
He said Ekweremadu was one of those who prevailed on him not to resign.
Ndume said: “I thank God for the way and the courage God gave me to carry on with my responsibility for the time of one and half years that God said was my time as the Senate Leader.
“So, I want to thank, especially my colleagues, for the confidence you had in me. I thank God that throughout my service as the Senate Leader, most of the times my colleagues casually will say leader we are proud of you.
“I was not found wanting for anything that I know and because of the unity of this Senate that is more important than myself, three times I offered to resign, if that will bring peace. But I believe that God’s time is the best.
“You are one of those that even warned me to stop saying that I will resign. But yesterday, I was not around, change of leadership was announced.
“In fact, if the number of those that lost confidence in me is not up to this number (38) and I am made to know I will resign because I did not become a Senate leader in order to lose confidence of any of you and that is why I am concerned about the loss of confidence because as far as I know, I have not done anything.
“But then just like the Senate caucus has the right to say we have lost confidence in you and I think that should be.
“I have said it I think it’s on record that I did not do anything; to the best of my knowledge I did not do anything. But as I said, since my colleagues, consciously 38 of them signed it.
“So, if they signed that they have lost confidence, what Dino Melaye is trying to bring up now, I am not going there at all because by the time you are to be removed, at least, you will be confronted with allegations on what you have done and given chance to defend yourselves.
“As I said since you have lost confidence, even if it is 10 of you members, then I have no moral ground to continue to lead this Senate because that means there are some people that are not with me.
“Having said that, I want to say that this Senate is an institution that we must protect.
“How do you protect the institution is to obey the rules and the tradition. If today, just like that without telling somebody and he goes out; if it is Ndume today and it’s okay, it may be – God forbid – Ekweremadu tomorrow.
“So, what I am saying is that anytime our colleagues erred in one way or the other, we should be given the chance to say: ‘look, this is what we did and therefore we have lost confidence in you’.
“I thank God since there is nothing and I am grateful for that. So, I want to once again say thank you very much for the opportunity given me to serve as the Senate Leader and I wish my brother, the new Senate leader – we have been struggling for this for a long time – the best of service to this important institution.”
Ekweremadu thanked Ndume for accepting his removal and asked him to continue to serve his constituents and the Senate.
He said: “This is coming on under order 43 and it is not open to debate. But let me on behalf of the rest of our colleagues thank you for your service to the Senate and indeed to the National Assembly because you were a member of the House of Representatives leadership at some point, you came to the Senate and also held very important committee assignments and then rose to become the Senate leader.
“Those are services we cannot wish away. So, we would like to congratulate you for the manner you have accepted the position of things and I will like to assure you that we would all continue to work harmoniously in the best interest of our country.
Some APC senators yesterday made overtures to Ekweremadu to defect to the ruling party.
Senator Kabiru Marafa was the arrowhead of the lobby group that wanted Ekweremadu to join the APC.
While moving the motion to adopt the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, Marafa (APC Zamfara Central) noted that it was high time Ekweremadu joined the ruling party.
He told reporters on Tuesday that Ekweremadu should defect to APC to save his seat.
He insisted the seat of the deputy Senate president belonged to the APC.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), who seconded Marafa’s motion for the adoption of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, also echoed the need for Ekweremadu to defect to the APC.
Senator Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South), in his reaction, said the “joke” urging Ekweremadu to defect to APC was uncalled for.
Ogbuoji said it was obvious Ekweremadu was not done with the PDP yet.
Ekweremadu ruled that the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday be adopted while the second clause, which was related to the overture for him to join the APC, “be duly removed.”