Senate in rowdy session over sitting arrangement at renovated chamber

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  • There’s no disagreement, rancour – Senate spokesman.

After 40 days of Easter and Sallah break, Senators resumed plenary on Tuesday amid a rowdy session after three senators engaged in a heated argument.

This happened in the renovated Hallowed Chamber as the Senators quarreled over sitting arrangements.

Ecstasy of holding plenary proceedings in the renovated hallowed chamber first enveloped the session at the beginning, but trouble started when the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio started reading names of Senators who marked their birthdays during the 40 days recess.

Trouble started when Senator Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u, APC Zamfara North, angrily stood up from the seat allocated to him and complained to the Leader, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, APC Ekiti Central.

Senator Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central also expressed displeasure of the seats assigned to him and complained to Bamidele.

The Senators used the renovated chamber for the first time on Tuesday, 19 months after the closure of the Hallowed Chamber.

According to the standing rules of the upper legislative chamber, senators sit according to ranking.

Ya’u’s complaints to the Leader which started on hushed tone, aggravated to shouting match between the two and consequently sparked reactions from other Senators and eventually degenerated into a rowdy session.

During the rowdy session which lasted for about 30 minutes, Senator Ya’u angrily pointed his finger at the Leader, complaining that the seat allocated to him at the far right of the chamber was not befitting, being a ranking Senator who held the principal position of Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate during the 9th National Assembly.

The verbal counter-punching between the Leader and Senator Ya’u, festered further when Senator Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), joined them.

Goje also complained to the Leader that ranking Senators were not well positioned in the sitting arrangement.

To calm nerves, the President of the Senate, Akpabio called on the Leader and aggrieved Senators surrounding him to approach the chair which they did and eventually paved way for Akpabio to read his welcome address.

Reacting to media reports at a press briefing after plenary, Senate Spokesman, Yemi Adaramodu, stated that seating arrangements have always been known to each senator in the red chamber, and the reported confusion or fight was peddled falsehood intended to mislead the public.

The spokesman, in defense of what happened, stated, “The unfounded story of a phantom fight over seating arrangements is an unscrupulous attempt to drag the image of the Senate into unnecessary and needless controversy.”

He urged the general public to disregard the odious song of sorrow from “these incorrigible wholesalers and retailers of falsehood.”

“There was no disagreement, rancor, or any verbal tirade regarding the seating arrangements in the Senate chamber. The Senate resumes today in the newly renovated chamber, and the seating positions of Senators were done in accordance with established legislative protocols.”

Recall that both the House of Representatives and the Senate moved to temporary chambers in September 2022 after commencement of renovation work on their Hallowed Chambers by Visible Construction Company Nigeria Limited in July 2022.

The Federal Capital Development Authority had in March 2021, awarded an N37 billion contract to Visible Construction Limited and some other firms for the rehabilitation of critical segments of the National Assembly complex, construction of the Library, and a permanent site for the National Assembly Service Commission.

The rehabilitation works are almost completed now.