The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Minority Caucus on Tuesday okayed the appointment of Senator Shaibu Isah Lau(Taraba North) as the new Deputy Minority Leader.
The Caucus also called on the Senate President to declare the seat of Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, the former occupier, who defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last Thursday vacant.
President Muhammadu Buhari officially received Bwacha into the APC at the State House on Thursday last week.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan read a letter from the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, announcing the choice of Senator Lau as the new Deputy Minority Leader of the upper chamber.
The letter reads in part: “Following the defection of Senator Emmanuel Bwacha to the ruling APC, the PDP Senate caucus has nominated as his replacement, Senator Shuaibu Isa Lau.
Senator Lau is from Taraba State, the North East geo-political zone of the country, where the position has been zoned.
“The PDP Senate caucus has duly informed the National Headquarters of the party, in view of which we so communicate to you.
“We believe that Senator Lau will be an asset to the leadership of the Senate.”
Bwacha was officially recognised as a member of the APC on Tuesday morning on the floor by Lawan.
Senator Bwacha had while relying on Order 42 of the Senate Rules (Personal Explanation), gave reasons for his defection.
He said:“In view of my desire for equal competition, and about my desire to enjoy the full operations of my fundamental human rights, Mr. President, I want to announce this day, that it is appointed to me, henceforth, to enjoy free air.
“As King Solomon said, there’s a time for everything; now is a time for me to leave the Peoples Democratic Party.
“I say I have opportunity to breathe freely because of a deliberate isolation and huge division and factionalisation in the party in my state.
I had to leave because I seek to breathe better. This day, I announce henceforth my exit from the Peoples Democratic Party, and to join the governing party because of the visible presence of the party in my Senatorial District.
“I say this without fear of contradiction that my constituents are happy about this movement because of what they have seen on ground in Taraba South Senatorial District.
“So, we make bold to pay the PDP back by ensuring that better days are ahead for the party in Taraba State.”
Lawan had directed the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, to take Bwacha to his new seat on the section of the isle reserved for members of the ruling party.
Kalu promptly carried out the instruction even as other members of the minority PDP kicked against the development.
Lawan said with the crossing over of Bwacha to the APC, the party now has 70 members in the chamber, while PDP has 38 and Young Progressives Congress (YPP) has one member.
Senator George Sekibo’s effort at drawing the attention of the Senate to the abnormality and illegality of Bwacha’s defection met with a brick wall.
Immediately after Bwacha announced his defection from the PPD, Senator Sekibo (Rivers East), opposed the move citing Section 68 (g)(h) and subsection 2 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Sekibo requested the Senate President to declare Bwacha’s seat vacant.
Sekibo was however ruled out of order by the Senate President.
Lawan observed that Sekibo’s demand was null and void as Senator Bwacha had explained that the PDP in Taraba was factionalised.
He also drew Sekibo’s attention to a letter by the National Chairman of the PDP nominating a new deputy minority leader to replace Bwacha.
According to Lawan, the decision by the PDP caucus in the Senate to intimate the National Body of the opposition party of a new nomination translates to an acceptance of Bwacha’s resignation from the PDP.
The Senate President, on the strength of the reasons advanced, ruled Sekibo out of order citing the letter by the National Chairman of the PDP, Ayu, appointing a replacement for Bwacha.
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