Tense mood pervaded the Senate proceedings on Tuesday, following the departure of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to attend the sitting of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), in respect of his ongoing trial for false asset declaration.
The Nigerian senators were said to be unhappy at the development, especially with the symbol of the institution being kept in the dock during Senate sittings.
“We cannot shave someone’s head in his absence,” said a lawmaker, who added that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not debated the issue of who replaces Saraki if he is possibly swept aside through the ongoing trial,” sources said.
The lawmakers said the issue of who takes over at the helm of the Senate would only be taken within a few days when it became obvious.
The development was coming on the heels of the revelation that the immediate past Senate president, Senator David Mark, has rejected subtle offers that he takes over from Saraki, in case the Senate president is removed.
Sources close to the former Senate president told the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja that Mark was content with playing the role of an elder in the Senate, adding that he would continue to be a guide to the Senate at critical times.
“I can tell you that the former Senate president is content with his role as the conscience of the eighth senate. He is of the view that the PDP should allow the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) run the show, so that the former ruling party could play its role as opposition.
“We in the PDP have had our time and Senator Mark is of the view that the APC should be allowed to run its government, so that they don’t turn around and blame anyone for obstructing them,” the source said.
It, however, emerged that the pro and anti-Saraki forces have continued their strategy meetings despite the daily sittings at the CCT.
While some members of the SUF, who have clamoured for a united APC caucus in the Senate, had also canvassed the emergence of a unity candidate in case Saraki was removed, the Like Mind Senators, the group loyal to Saraki, had continued to bank on the support of the PDP to dictate the pace.
It was gathered that the groups had agreed to field a unity candidate if Saraki was removed.
“One of the issues said to have been agreed to at the different caucus meetings is the fact that a unity candidate should emerge and that could lead to the emergence of a compromise candidate,” a source said.
It was gathered that some names had been thrown up, but no conclusion had been reached so far.
Those being mentioned included Senator Shaba Lafiaji (Kwara), Barnabas Gemade (Benue), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa) and the Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu (Enugu).
In another development, the Senate announced on Tuesday that the National Security Adviser and service chiefs would appear before the lawmakers today.
Their appearance was in connection with the summon extended to them last week by the Senate over the missing Chibok girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram elements in 2014.
Ekweremadu, who presided over the sitting, said the NSA and the service chiefs would be in the chamber by 10.00 a.m., while urging the senators to be punctual.
Ekweremadu said that the Senate was worried at the continuous disappearance of the abducted girls and apparent lack of information on what the security agencies were doing to secure their release.
In another motion passed on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, the lawmakers approved the continued importation of used tyres, popularly called Tokunbo, into the country through land borders.
The motion followed the passage of the motion, entitled: “the use of substandard or used tyres on Nigerian roads,” sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani.
Sani, in his motion, expressed worry about the growing deaths from road traffic accidents.
He said from 2010 to date, statistics had shown that over 5,000 lives had been lost on Nigerian roads as a result of burst tyres.
He said the development was either due to low quality or over-use of the tyres.
But the Senate failed to empower the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) to conduct a random checks on tyres in use across the country.