Olujimi said but for the intervention of the PDP leadership, the position of senate president would have gone to the PDP because senators of the party were in clear majority on the day of Senate inauguration and could have elected one of their own for the position.
According to Olujimi, the PDP advised its senators to play the second fiddle it is no longer a ruling party and has no majority in the Senate.
She said that some members of her party had reasoned that since APC senators were sharply divided between senators Bukola Saraki and Ahmad Lawan, the contenders on the APC platform, it was good for them to seize the opportunity to produce the senate president. However, she disclosed that a second thought to adhere to earlier advice from the party saved the day.
“Somebody would definitely have that mindset but what really happened was that we felt we are in opposition and the ruling party must take its rightful place—the larger chunk as the PDP had instructed.
Her words: “The party was very clear that ‘you are in opposition, you are no longer the ruling party’. And so, we were willing to allow the majority party take the lead and immediately after taking the lead, we thought we were strong enough to follow and that is what we did and that is what is here now.
The dynamics: “It was the dynamics that came to play in the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President. In that hall on the day of inauguration of new Senate, all the 49 senators of the PDP were present and the APC were not. There were very few APCs. In all, we were 76 senators present and when you take 49 out of 76, you would know what was left. And so, whether you like it or not, he would win because it was a game of number. And that was what came to play and that was why he won.’’
Senator Olujimi said the emergence of PDP’s Ekweremadu in an APC-dominated Senate would strengthen the nation’s democracy, asking those complaining to rethink.
She said: “Whether you like it or not, that will be responsible for the stability of this Senate, if this Senate is going to be stable. This is because now, nobody can grumble, nobody can complain.”
The senator said those contemplating of impeaching Ekweremadu were getting it wrong, as according to her, the processes were difficult to achieve.
“That slight majority is not workable because you need two-thirds majority and if you have 109 senators and the PDP, as a minority party has 49 senators to its fold, you should know that it is not easy to get that two-thirds majority, “she said.
No division in PDP: She debunked insinuations that PDP senators were divided on their choice of those to be picked to fill the four principal offices among which are the positions of Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader, saying they will present four of their members for the positions as soon as the National Assembly resumes from its ongoing recess.
“For now, we are working with the party to ensure that the list comes as soon as we resume. As we are preparing to resume, we will meet to ensure that we adopt all the four officials expected to fill the various positions that belong to us as a minority party in the Senate. But I know that we have not adopted anybody yet.
“It is not as if the party is giving us directives but they are working with us. They sit with us almost every week to ask us what the problems are and how they can come in. That should be the role of a party. They just ask us what we want and help us just to navigate through,”she added.
Forgery of Senate rules: Commenting on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rule by some principal officers of the legislature, Senator Olujimi said she really did not know whether the document was altered.
Hear her: “As a new senator, I was given a set of rules, if it was like that before, I don’t know, if it wasn’t like that before, I don’t know. My idea is that I was given a set of rules and I am going to work with that set of rules before me. So, where did the forgery come from? For me, I don’t know anything about forgery because when you resume as a member of the House, you are always given a document, a set of rules of the assembly of that time.
“When the 8th Assembly resumed, the Senate was given a set of rules and that is what is expected to guide us in the next four years. Whether it was amended or not, I do not know, that is what I was given and that is what I intend to work with and I know all my colleagues too, are going to do the same.’’
Zonal, party balance
She confirmed that the upper chamber has resolved not to short-change any zone or political party in terms of allocation of committees, as the Senate prepares to constitute the various committees and membership.
“What we have done is to put them in zones because we don’t want any zone short-changed. And so, we are looking at the six zones. Let me tell you something that you have not taken cognizance of. Before now, there was a very slim opposition, it was always PDP 79, and the others 24 and these others were not in one party. It was always three or four parties maybe sharing 20 positions with one taking over 11 and others taking maybe one or two. But it is a departure from what we have today.
‘’Now, we have a very strong opposition. The only two strong parties we have in the Senate today stand neck and neck and that is it. So, it’s a different ball game and so naturally, the dynamics must change. I don’t know how they came about the set of rules but I believe that whoever did that saw that the dynamics must change. If the dynamics don’t change from when it was just a very weak opposition to very strong opposition, we wouldn’t have the peace we require in that Senate,’’ she quipped.