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Senators battle Senate leadership over rules

Posted by Sunnewsonline.com on 2007/07/07 | Views: 360 |

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Senators battle Senate leadership over rules


Indications that trouble was lurking for the leadership of the Senate first emerged last week when Senator Chris Anyanwu argued that it was inappropriate for senators to arrive the Senate only to discover that there were motions to be discussed on the order paper, saying that senators were expected to be put on notice before motions are debated so as to allow for a robust debate and to allow senators make valid and informed contributions to the issues raised in the motion.

Indications that trouble was lurking for the leadership of the Senate first emerged last week when Senator Chris Anyanwu argued that it was inappropriate for senators to arrive the Senate only to discover that there were motions to be discussed on the order paper, saying that senators were expected to be put on notice before motions are debated so as to allow for a robust debate and to allow senators make valid and informed contributions to the issues raised in the motion.

By yesterday, as soon as the Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin rose up to move his motion on the "Agonies of depositors of failed banks and financial institutions," Senator Anyanwu again raised a point of order bordering on privileges. Said she: "On the order paper today, I see three important issues - failed bank, poor state of airports and bad roads, these issues are so important that senators need to debate them. Therefore it would be important to have notices on the order paper, a day before the motions are tabled."

But the Senate president ruled her out of order, saying that the "issue you raised is not a breach of your privilege. If anything, it has to do with procedure, therefore I rule you out of order."
To this end, the Senate leader sought the leave of the Senate to move the motion. Before he could proceed further, Senator Isiaka Adeleke also raised another point of order.

Hinging on order 47 of the Senate’s standing rules, Adeleke argued that it was a violation of the rules of the Senate to debate motions without notice. However, like Anyanwu, Adeleke too was also ruled out of order by the Senate president.
But when the question on whether or not the motion be taken was put, the new senators overwhelmingly voted against it, and so the motion could not be taken.


Continuing with the business of the day, the Senate Leader, called on the deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to seek the leave of the Senate to move his own motion, which was the second item on the order paper.
Rising amidst shout of "nay" from majority of the new lawmakers, to seek the leave of the Senate to move his motion, Ekweremadu, also relying on order 47 insisted that once a motion was listed on the order paper, there would be no need for another leave to be sought.

But one of the returning Senators, Senator Tawa Wada, while throwing his weight behind Senators Anyanwu and Adeleke, said "unless a notice is placed on the order paper, no motion can be moved. Therefore all those motions on the order paper cannot be moved."

Apparently sensing that the majority of the Senators were set to ensure that the motion too was again not taken, the Senate leader who told Wada that he alone reserves the right to interprete the rules, ruled the deputy Senate President out of order, even as he said that the Rules and Business committee saddled with the responsibility of putting notices on the order paper was yet to be constituted.

Thereafter, the Senate President said "On the basis of the fact that even though I have prior knowledge, but notices have not been given, I therefore rule that the motions on the order paper be converted to notices and they shall be discussed tomorrow."
When the question was put as to whether the motions should be converted to notices and be taken tomorrow, it was unanimously carried and that was how the plenary session was brought to an end by 11.25 a.m.

Speaking with Journalists after the plenary, Senator Adeleke said by the rules of the Senate, certain committees, referred to as special committees, ought to have been constituted within the first 14 legislative days, and that the Rules and Business committee was one of them. He submitted, right now the Senate was putting something on nothing saying that "we have to have that committee on Rules and Business before any other business can be conducted in the Senate."
Meanwhile the Senate leader, Teslim Folarin has hinted that the various committees’ chairmen would be named before the week runs out.

He gave the hint while fielding questions from Journalists shortly after the session yesterday. According to him, the delay in naming the committees was to avoid the repeat of what happened during the last Senate, where Senators from the South-West protested the committee chairmen allotted them during Ken Nnamani’s tenure.

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