Pulse explains what the constitution says about Saraki remaining Senate President even though he’s now a member of the ‘minority’ PDP
Senate President Bukola Saraki has of course dumped the APC for the PDP like everyone expected.
Questions have been asked about whether Saraki will remain Senate president even though he now belongs to the PDP—the minority political party in the Senate—at least going by the last count.
How many senators do the APC and PDP have now?
After the gale of defections in the Senate and House of Representatives on July 24, 2018, the governing APC maintained a slight majority over the opposition PDP.
There are 109 senators in the upper legislative chamber. After last week’s defections, the APC had 53 senators while the PDP had 50.
ADC has 3 senators and APGA has 2.
With Saraki’s defection, the APC now has 52 senators while the PDP’s ranks have swollen to 51.
What this means is that when the Senate resumes plenary in September, the APC will still be the majority party in the upper legislative chamber—albeit a very slim majority.
Will Saraki remain Senate president from a minority party?
There is nothing constitutionally wrong with Saraki keeping his position as Senate president even though he’ll now belong to the minority party in the red chamber.
According to Section 50 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution as amended: “A President and Deputy President of the Senate shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”
The above section doesn’t bar lawmakers from the minority political party in parliament from seeking the position of Senate president.
The law also doesn’t say that a Senate president who becomes a member of the minority party should relinquish that position.
Section 50 (2) of the Constitution reads that: “The President or Deputy President of the Senate or the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall vacate his office:
a) If he ceases to be a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, otherwise than by reason of a dissolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives; or
b) When the House of which he was a member first sits after any dissolution of that House; or
c) If removed from office by a resolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the House.
In simpler language, Saraki can remain, president of the Senate, when the house reconvenes, unless he’s impeached by a two-thirds majority of lawmakers.
And the APC can only attain the two-thirds majority of lawmakers required to impeach Saraki if senators from the PDP lend the governing party a chunk of senators.
Saraki won’t be the first leader of parliament from the minority party
In the 2nd Republic, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was Edwin Ume-Ezeoke of the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP).
NPP wasn’t the governing party at the time. The governing party was Alhaji Shehu Shagari’sNPN.
In the 7th assembly, Aminu Tambuwal continued to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives even after dumping the PDP for the APC.
In the 8th assembly, Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP is serving as Deputy Senate President even though that position should have been reserved for the governing APC.
So, yeah, Saraki is in good company.