by Dyepkazah Shibayan,
The senate went into a rowdy session on Tuesday after Enyinnaya Abaribe, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from Abia state, said that there was a vacuum in government because Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was not in the country.
Osinbajo is currently attending the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In his contribution to a motion sponsored by Ahmed Yerima, senator representing Zamfara west, Abaribe said the country was in a “serious problem” because “we have nobody in Nigeria who is at the head of the government”.
“I simply want to bring to the attention of this chamber and all Nigerians and to ask the question, the acting president is the person who is at the head of government now, but we have a serious problem in Nigeria today. We have nobody in Nigeria who is at the head of the government,” Abaribe said.
“The law and the procedure and all the laws in Nigeria states that you cannot have a vacuum. Today the acting president is outside the country and so there is a vacuum.”
At this point, some of his colleagues interrupted him. Kabiru Marafa, senator representing Zamfara central, moved for a point of order.
It took a while for Marafa to be heard as most of the lawmakers spoke on top of their voices.
When calm was restored, Marafa, citing order 53 (4), said senators must confine themselves to the matter discussed and not bring any “irrelevant” issue.
He said Abaribe abused the sensibilities of Nigerians by making the assertion that there is a vacuum in government.
“Mr President, my distinguished colleagues, it is the abuse of out sensibilities and that of Nigerians everywhere to make the assertion that there is no head of government in Nigeria and that there is a vacuum in the leadership of Nigeria,” Marafa said.
“The constitution is very clear. If the president is out of the country, the constitution is clear as to who is the head of government. If the acting president is out of the country, the senate president is the next in the line of succession.
“You should desist from making this unwarranted remarks.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki ruled Abaribe out of order, saying the matter the senator brought was not in line with what was being discussed.
“He came under order 53 (4). This matter senator Abaribe brought out, as eloquently as being delivered is not in one with the discussion that we have now,” Saraki said.
“So, we can have another day for that if need be. But according to our rules, it is not in line with our discussion. I have no choice but to rule the matter out of order.”