Senate Faces Sharp Division and Rowdy Session During Festus Keyamo’s Screening

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Senate Faces Sharp Division and Rowdy Session During Festus Keyamo's Screening
Keyamo’s Screening Triggers Senate Turmoil

In a tense session on Monday, the Nigerian Senate witnessed sharp divisions and a rowdy atmosphere during the screening of former Minister of State for Labour and Ministerial Nominee from Delta State, Festus Keyamo, SAN. The trouble started soon after Keyamo introduced himself and read his resume, during which he claimed to have fought for the rights of the Senate and even won a case to ensure the Upper Chamber confirmed the appointment of service chiefs.

At 1:37 pm, Senator Darlington Nwokocha, LP, Abia Central, rose to raise a point of order. He referred to a matter in 2020 concerning the public works program, where the sum of 20 thousand Naira was allocated to one thousand Nigerians in each local government area across the country. Senator Nwokocha cited section 88(1b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, reminding Keyamo of his accusations against the National Assembly of corruption and an attempt to control the disbursement of N52 billion.

According to Section 88 of the Constitution, each House of the National Assembly has the power to investigate any matter within its legislative competence, as well as the conduct of any parastatal or official responsible for administering any Act of the National Assembly or disbursing funds. This power to investigate is aimed at enabling the Senate or the House of Representatives to make laws and expose corruption, inefficiency, or waste in the execution or administration of laws.

Senator Nwokocha insisted that government appointees must be held accountable and moved a motion to have the screening of Keyamo postponed. Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, APGA, Abia South, seconded the motion, pointing out that Keyamo had previously rejected the summons of the Senate and House of Representatives regarding the public works program.

At 1:50 pm, the Senate descended into a rowdy session as Senator Godswill Akpabio, the President of the Senate, called for a voice vote on the matter. However, the session became chaotic as some lawmakers demanded a division, which would entail individual voting by each Senator.

Reluctant to agree to a division, Senator Akpabio eventually conceded to the demand, and the Senate proceeded into a closed-door session to deliberate on the matter. During the closed-door session, the Majority Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidelem, APC, Ekiti Central, called for the private meeting to discuss the situation. Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon, PDP, Plateau North, seconded the motion, and the Senate continued their deliberations behind closed doors.

The sharp division and rowdy session exposed the underlying tensions among the Senators and raised concerns over accountability and transparency in government appointments and the disbursement of funds. The outcome of the closed-door session remains uncertain as the Senate continues to grapple with the issues surrounding Festus Keyamo’s screening.

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