Lawan’s Anti-Restructuring Outburst Upsets Senators

The Senate is rumbling. Reason? Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s disapproval of South governors’ resolution at last week’s meeting in Asaba, Delta State.

In what has now become famous as the ‘Asaba Declaration’, the 17 southern governors called for urgent dialogue to resolve lingering national question.

They also called for restructuring and review of revenue formula, among others.

But Lawan, speaking to reporters after the Eid prayers at Aso Villa on Thursday lashed out at the governors.

He cautioned them against “regionalism”, saying the restructuring they were calling for should have started from their states. He accused them of diminishing the local government administration.

But the comment raised tempers among senators, who felt the president of the Senate failed to consider the feelings of other before speaking out.

Lawan was unmindful that senators from the South collectively supported the position of their governors.

Ahead of today’s resumption of plenary, senators started meeting in groups, discussing how to harmonise positions in response to Lawan’s outburst.

Sensing a rancorous session, the Senate President has called for an Executive Session today before proceedings are thrown open to the public.

It was learnt that the Executive session will allow the leadership to manage senators’ anger.
“The Senate president will also use the opportunity to explain that what he said was his opinion,” a source said.

Some senators are also unhappy that the Senate President spoke “as if the Senate is an appendage of the Executive.”

Sources at one of the covert meetings told our correspondent yesterday: “We have agreed to ask our Senate President to retract his comments and offer a public apology because his thoughts are not in line with the realities facing the nation.

“He should have been more circumspect in his reaction to issues. He is the Senate President. He ought to be measured in his comment.”

Another senator said: “Since Lawan came up with his comments, we have been under pressure to challenge him on the floor of the Senate in order to define where every senator clearly stands.

“We want posterity to judge all of us. It is time to call a spade a spade.

“Lawan has reopened old wounds. His comment is distasteful. We want to disown him on Tuesday because he did not speak for the Senate.”

There were fears last night that some governors, who felt insulted by Lawan’s position, were fueling the tension.

A senator, who denied that governors were influencing senators, said: “The fact that we agree with our governors does not mean we are their lackeys.
“Did Lawan gauge the mood of the nation before talking? We are on the same page with our governors because their demand is in the interest of the people.”

A pro-Lawan senator, however told our correspondent, that: “The Senate President merely expressed his opinion which he is entitled to.

“ And in any case, what he said is the truth. What restructuring are governors talking about. Have the governors allowed autonomy for the State Legislature, Judiciary and Local Governments? Let the governors cast the first stone.

“Also at the level we are now, is the solution to our problem regionalism or national integration. His comments did not offend anyone. He only raised posers. The fact is that our democracy can be more meaningful and impactful if the governors allow it to thrive at the state and local government levels.

“Let them come up with issues over Lawan’s comments. We will debate it no come to an agreement.”

A ranking Senator who confirmed the tension ahead of today’s resumption, said: “ Lawan’s comments generated disquiet but we are trying to manage it to avoid crisis. He holds the gavel and anything he says is weighty. Some senators are really angry with him.

“What we are trying to do is to manage the tension at the Executive Session where the Senate President will be able to clarify things. We do not want the situation to degenerate.

“It will be a frank Executive Session. We will surely tell him the home truth, especially the need to talk less.

A senator said: We have been notified of an Executive session on Tuesday.”

Lawan has been receiving harsh criticisms over his comments.

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