The senate had a rowdy session after Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe called Buhari an incompetent Commander-in-Chief. Full story here.
While hosting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby at the Abuja House in London on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Buhari blamed the herdsmen crisis currently rocking large swathes of northern Nigeria on late Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi.
According to Buhari, "The problem (herders/farmers conflict) is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.
"These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.
"Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons. The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions."
As lawmakers sat to deliberate matters of national importance a day after Buhari’s comments flooded the media, Abaribe raised a hand for a point of order and was duly permitted to speak.
“A few days ago in this chamber, we talked about the security of Nigeria. This chamber discussed the question of killings in several States of Nigeria.
“I recall that on the matter of herdsmen versus farmers, two explanations were given by highly ranked security personnel in Nigeria. The Inspector General of Police said these killings were as a result of anti-open grazing laws being passed by States.
“Also, the Defence Minister said these killings were also as a result of the blockage of routes through which the herders moved their cattle.”
Abaribe then went for the president’s jugular in characteristic fashion. He wondered why President Buhari implied in London that “these killers are from outside Nigeria”.
He added; “When a Commander-in-Chief says he cannot handle invaders invading Nigeria, why is he still a Commander-in-Chief?”
He thereafter called Buhari incompetent.
“Why do we still continue to indulge this president that goes along to tell everybody outside this country that he is totally incompetent?”
At this point, murmuring from the APC aisle of the senate intensified and the lot fell on Senator Lawan to articulate just how angry APC senators had become over Abaribe’s comments.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the leader of this country and deserves the respect and courtesy of those of us in it”, Majority Leader Ahmed snarled, fire burning in his eyes.
“I was once a member of the opposition and I do not recall ever calling the then president names or insulting him. This is our institution. If we do not conduct ourselves with respect, nobody will. I want to ask my colleague to immediately withdraw his statement and apologise to this chamber”.
Everyone was screaming at this point and a few senators were aiming verbal darts at the other. The senate chamber had become a rowdy session.
As the presiding officer, Senate President Bukola Saraki was supposed to restore order to a rowdy chamber and he did so by asking Abaribe to make his point without deploying foul or offensive language.
Abaribe insisted he had not used offensive words and refused to withdraw his comments or apologise for them as Lawan had requested.
“I used words that have no alternatives”, Abaribe protested. “What I did was to interpret the words by Mr. President in London.
“If any word I used is misunderstood by anyone, I apologise. What I am saying is simple. The heads of security agencies in Nigeria made several explanations for the killings of our people. It shows that there is a disconnect”, Abaribe concluded.
At this point, you could almost touch the tension in the chamber with a felt pen as the debate was brought to an abrupt end with the bang from Saraki’s gavel.
Senator Abaribe has a knack for aiming potshots at the president.
On Thursday, March 15, 2018, Abaribe said Buhari is never aware of happenings around him. He made the comment after the president visited Benue and told his hosts that he wasn’t aware that IGP Ibrahim Idris didn’t relocate to the troubled State like he had ordered.
“We have a president that says that 'I did not know my IG didn’t follow orders. I didn't even know when this happened.' Every little thing he doesn't know,” Abaribe said snidely.
“Let us beg this president to take responsibility for one thing. It is not everything that you don't know... so that we can be safe in Nigeria.”
On Tuesday, July 4, 2017; with Buhari away in London on a medical trip and then acting President Yemi Osinbajo away from Nigeria on an official assignment, Abaribe moved a motion to declare the president’s seat vacant.
“I simply want to bring to the attention of this chamber and all Nigerians and to ask the question. The acting president is the person who is at the head of government now, but we have a serious problem in Nigeria today. We have nobody in Nigeria who is at the head of the government,” Abaribe said.
He added that; “The law and the procedure and all the laws in Nigeria states that you cannot have a vacuum. Today, the acting president is outside the country and so there is a vacuum.”
Buhari is billed to attend the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which holds in London from April 18, 2018, before making a return to Nigeria.