Amid a rowdy session on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, Senator Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) emerged the new Minority Leader and Senator Osita Ngwu (PDP, Enugu West) also emerged as Minority Whip.
The positions of the Senate Minority Leader and Minority Whip became vacant after the Court of Appeal sacked the former occupants, Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon (PDP, Plateau North) and Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central), respectively.
The appellate court nullified the election of Mwadkwon and ordered a rerun while Nwokocha was removed and replaced with Augustine Akobundu of the PDP, who was declared as the authentic winner of the February 25 election in the Abia Central senatorial district.
The PDP senators had last week held a crucial meeting at the National Assembly complex in a move to make replacements for the principal positions of the Senate.
Senator Garba Maidoki (PDP, Bauchi), who briefed journalists after the closed-door meeting, had said the opposition lawmakers settled for the North-Central geopolitical zone to produce the Minority Leader.
During Tuesday’s plenary, Senate President Godswill Akpabio announced the duo of Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) as minority leader and Osita Ngwu (PDP, Enugu West) as minority whip.
The Senate President said the new minority leaders had the majority support of their colleagues in the opposition.
He said 41 minority Senators signed the document endorsing Moro as minority leader while 30 backed Ngwu for minority whip seat.
However, the announcement did not sit well with other minority parties in the minority caucus, especially the Labour Party (LP).
Raising a point of order, Senator Okechukwu Ezea (LP, Enugu North) protested the absence of his party in the minority leadership structure, describing the arrangement as injustice against other minority parties.
“How can the PDP take three minority leadership seats? This is unfair, unjust and unacceptable,” he said.
The Senate proceedings, thereafter, degenerated into a rowdy session with other LP lawmakers protesting the exclusion of their party in the minority leadership.
Amid the uproar, Senator Tony Nwoye (LP, Anambra North) accused Senate President Akpabio of hand-picking minority leaders for the opposition parties.
“How can you be choosing minority leaders for us? Are we your slaves?,” Nwoye openly tackled the Senate President.
Lawmakers from the ruling party made frantic efforts to pacify their colleagues from LP, some of whom approached Akpabio for consultation.
After about 15 minutes of rowdy session, the Senate President addressed the opposition lawmakers and dismissed the claim of his interference in the affairs of the opposition.
Akpabio said he only announced the names forwarded to him by the opposition caucus and that it would be unfair not to respect the voice of the majority.
He, therefore, urged the opposition caucus to always put their house in order before forwarding any decision to him.
He said, “All we need to produce a leader is a simple majority. What’s the reason for not agreeing with the position of the majority?
“41 minority Senators signed for Abba Moro and 30 signed for Osita Ngwu. They have the majority. It will be unfair for me not to announce them after getting the majority of support. My job is not to work with individual opinion but with the majority of positions.”
Efforts by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) to convince Akpabio to allow him to stay on the seat of the minority whip failed as the Senate President ruled him out of order.
Aliero explained that the opposition caucus had resolved that Moro should be the minority leader but was yet to decide on the position of the minority whip.
But, Akpabio referred him to Senate Standing Rule 52(6), which says it shall be out of order for any Senator to speak on any issue that has already been decided.
Akpabio, therefore, ruled Senator Aliero out of order.