Ningi’s Suspension: Stand Your Ground – South West Senators To Akpabio

by Ohepo Ohepo

Governors and other Northern political leaders are now embroiled in the ongoing Senate dispute between Northern MPs and Godswill Akpabio’s followers, the president of the upper house of parliament.

Weeks before Akpabio was elected President of the 10th Senate in 2023, the conflict that resulted in Senator Abdul Ningi’s suspension from the Bauchi Central Senatorial District began.

On March 12, 2024, the Senate suspended Ningi for accusing the National Assembly of padding the 2024 budget to the tune of over N3 trillion, despite attempts by some Northern lawmakers to save him. The Senate was led by Akpabio and three senators from the South West: Opeyemi Bamidele (Senate Leader); Adeola Olamilekan (Chairman of the Appropriations Committee); and Jimoh Ibrahim from Ondo State.

The South Westers Bamidele, Olamilekan, and Ibrahim spearheaded the effort to suspend Ningi.

The Daily Sun claims that ranking senators from the North as well as a few governors have now intervened to mediate and end the impasse in the upper house of representatives, nearly three weeks after the suspension.

One of the main proponents of the peace initiative, a senator from the North West, claimed that if Bamidele, Olamilekan, and Ibrahim, the three parliamentarians from the South West, had not put pressure on Akpabio to act, the issues would have been settled without suspending Ningi.

The congressman claimed that certain governors, concerned about the ethnic aspects of the conflict, contacted Akpabio to advise him to proceed with prudence and summon Ningi back, citing the support of prominent Northern leaders.

The members from the South West, in particular, were against Akpabio’s bringing up the issue with them when he brought it up, he disclosed, arguing that Ningi had to serve out his suspension despite an existing court ruling that states a politician cannot be suspended for longer than two weeks.

“Akpabio has decided to recall Ningi after being forced to disregard them. Many Northern senators and politicians saw the suspension as an attack on the region, and Ningi enjoys a base of support. However, some individuals believe they have control over Senate decisions and wish to preserve their egos.

Akpabio received messages from very powerful senators in the North. In addition, he received communication from current and former governors warning him about the risks of introducing ethnicity into the legislative branch, as exemplified by Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele.

Akpabio is given an assignment. The Senate has a lot planned out, but nothing can get done in a divided house like that.

He is aware of this and had to come up with a plausible explanation to escape the situation the three senators from South West put him in. Thus, the letter that Femi Falana sent on Ningi’s behalf is a good justification,” the legislator disclosed.

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