There was tension between Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Dino Melaye on the floor of the Senate today over a comment made by the latter.
It happened during deliberations on a motion on Senate Intervention on the Reforms and Strengthening of Local Government Administration in Nigeria, moved by Sen Abdullahi Gumel from Jigawa state and co-sponsored by six other Senators.
While several other senators had taken their turns to contribute, sometimes blaming governors for failing to strengthen local governments, it was time for Melaye to speak.
During his speech, he said local governments were being starved of funds, unable to pay salaries as and when due “because of the satanic manifestation of governors”.
The statement angered Senator Akpabio, who was a former governor. Raising a point of order, he said Melaye’s statement was unfair to past governors who performed well for their states. He insisted that Dino be made to withdraw the statement as abusive words were not allowed according to the House rules
Coming under Order 43, Akpabio said Dino has never been a governor and so doesn’t know what it entails to be one.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who was presiding, asked Melaye to withdraw the statement but he refused, saying that he did not mention any particular governor and that he said “some governors”.
But Akpabio raised the point of order again. All attempts by Ekweremadu to make Dino withdraw the statement failed as the Kogi state senator insisted that any action by any governor that had to do with starving local governments of funds, inflicting hardship and underdevelopment on the people was “not only satanic but wicked, callous and barbaric”
Continuing without withdrawing the statement, Melaye caused another controversy by saying that some persons (probably referring to PDP senators) amended the constitution to serve other purposes other than the wishes of Nigerians.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe then took him on that one, raising a point of order and asking Melaye to withdraw that statement too.
Abaribe said he was a member of the 6th and 7th senate when the constitution was amended and that nothing contrary to the wishes of the people was done.
But Dino Melaye continued and concluded by saying he prays for the repentance of past, present and future state governors
Most of the senators’ arguments tended towards the need to conduct a public hearing and amend the constitution to give local governments autonomy.
The Senate then resolved to mandate the Senate Committee on States and Local Governments to conduct a public hearing on the reforms aimed at strengthening Local Government Areas in Nigeria within the context of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other extant laws; and make recommendations.
Senators who spoke on the issue apart from Dino Melaye and Akpabio included Senators Sam Egwu, Monsurat Sunmonu, Oluremi Tinubu, Emmanuel Paulker, Bala Na’allah, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Wakili, Sam Anyanwu, Joshua Lidani, Sabi Abdullahi, Ali Ndume and James Manager.