A lawmaker from Plateau North Senatorial District, Simon Mwadkwon, on Wednesday, tackled presidential spokesman, Dele Alake, during his ministerial screening on the floor of the Senate.
Mwadkwon claimed that Alake labelled supporters of a certain presidential candidate as “wild dogs” during the last presidential election.
Alake, who is one of the 28 ministerial nominees of President Bola Tinubu for screening, appeared before the red chamber on the third consecutive day of the exercise.
Alake, from Ekiti State, was the Director of Strategic Communication of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council in the February 25, 2023 poll that brought in Tinubu as President.
Alake was also Commissioner of Information and Strategy in Lagos State when Tinubu was governor of the state from May 1999 to May 2007.
The Senator from Plateau North said, “Mr nominee, a lot of accolade have been showered on you and from your CV (curriculum vitae), you’ve done credibly well for Nigeria, especially the struggle for democracy. I’m convinced.
“Seated as Senators here, the issue of our political parties is secondary; we are Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am saying this because of the question I want to ask you. Therefore, any question coming from me should be taken that it is coming from a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not from the Minority Senate.
“My question is that: I heard you sir, you said as a writer or as a journalist, you are an image maker, you speak out of inspiration and conviction… You’ve talked about the social media too. I have read on the social media, your statement concerning other political parties during the election.
“I read a statement where you labelled supporters of a particular presidential candidate as ‘wild dogs’. Have you come across that statement? Are you aware of it? Did you say that?”
After Mwadkwon’s question, Senate President Godswill Akpabio urged his colleagues to avoid campaign issues, saying “campaigns are over” and “questions must be nationalistic and not partisan”.
Mwadkwon continued and insisted that Alake answer whether it is true or not that he labelled opponents of his principal as “wild dogs” during the electioneering process earlier this year.
However, Akpabio interjected and asked that his colleague move to his second question.
In the ensuing interruptions and murmurs from the floor, Senator Muhammed Adamu from Kebbi Central raised Order 55 that no Senator is allowed to make any noise or interrupt a speaking Senator. He said there are so many interruption from the “other side” whilst Mwadkwon was making his point.
The Senate President thereafter sustained the Point of Order by Adamu.
Next was the Leader of the Senate, Opeyemi Bamidele from Ekiti Central Senatorial District, who spoke for the Ekiti State caucus in the upper chamber.
Bamidele differed with Adamu and raised Order 55, Section 12, saying that no Senator will interrupt another Senator unless to call attention to a Point of Order or privilege suddenly arising.
“We are screening ministerial nominees and we are not supposed to bring in issues that have come and gone,” Bamidele said after which Akpabio upheld his Point of Order.
Mwadkwon, the Minority Leader, later took to the floor and further asked the nominee to recite the second stanza of the national anthem.
Bamidele again tackled Mwadkwon and said that the Plateau Senator has brought politics into the screening by asking that Alake recite the national anthem that other nominees have not been asked to recite.
Bamidele asked Akpabio to expunge the request and the Senate President did just so.
“We are here to do serious business on how to move this country forward and not necessarily to sing songs,” Akpabio said, adding that all lawmakers and nominees know the two stanzas of the national anthem by heart.
Addressing Alake, Akpabio said, “We have watched you over the years and we don’t have any doubt about your capacity to handle any portfolio”.
The Senate President subsequently asked that Alake take a bow and the gesture ended the over one-hour exercise.