MARK STALLS TALKS ON YAR'ADUA
Mark stalls talks on Yar'Adua
From FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE, Abuja
Thursday, March 04 , 2010
Twenty four hours after an attempt to open discussion on the whereabouts of ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua hit the rock in the House of Representatives, a similar move in the Senate was yesterday stalled by the Senate President, David Mark, who overruled a point of order to that effect.
There have been reports that the president's wife has been making overtures to the lawmakers to soft pedal on the issue of her husband's health status in order not to disgrace him out of office.
Senators, who had yesterday perfected plans to push for the Senate resolution demanding for the whereabouts of the president in the light of fact the that no one, including the acting president, had seen him since he came back home eight days ago, were disappointed as their plan was frustrated by the ever protective Senate president.
The plenary had opened to lay and receive two reports of the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta on the screening of Mr. Donald Omorodion as a member of the NDDC from Edo State and the report of the committee of Environment on climate change when Senator George Sekibo (Rivers East) raised a point of order.
He had cited sections 88 and 89 of the constitution and read Senate standing rules 14, 15 and 16 all bordering on the position of the president and the privilege of the senators. He began to reel out the events in the country starting from when the president was flown out of Nigeria on November 23, 2009 and the several attempts made to see him by the House of Representative members, members of Governors' Forum, the PDP leadership and members of the Federal Executive Council in Saudi Arabia were met with brick-wall.
He expressed surprise at the manner the president was brought in and the inability of the acting president to see him a week after arriving the country.
Sensing the direction Sekibo was heading, the Senate president cut him short and ruled him out of order.
'With all due respect, please, I think this is not only unnecessary, but also diversionary, I think we have wasted a lot of time on this,' David Mark said.
'Going through all these just to come up with the issue of Mr. President's health, please I rule you out of order.'
However, at the end of the sitting, Senator Sekibo told reporters that all he tried to do was to get the leadership of the Senate to get some answers on the true state of the president's health and whereabouts.
According to him, 'All I tried to do was to draw the attention of my colleagues to the fact that Nigerians and the Senate cannot thrive on speculations and rumours. I wanted to urge the Senate leadership to find out the whereabouts of Mr. President. But since the president of the Senate who is the only one who interprets the rules says its out of order, its okay.
'The House of Representatives sent a delegation but they could not see Mr. President. The PDP delegation and a delegation of ministers were all denied access to Mr. President while he was said to be in Saudi Arabia.
'Now, they say he is back. Nobody has been allowed to see him. Who is certain whether he is in this country?'