Senate Plenary Sessions: Akpabio, Lawan clash over timing

The Senate convened an emergency executive session on Thursday following a heated disagreement over the official sitting time of the Red Chamber.

The conflict involved Senate President Godswill Akpabio and his predecessor, Senator Ahmed Lawan, centered around the timing of plenary sessions.

Currently, Senate rules stipulate that sessions begin at 10 am. However, it has become common for sessions to start later, around 11 am or even later, due to the late arrival of lawmakers. In response, Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele proposed a formal amendment to shift the official sitting time from 10 am to 11 am.

Senator Lawan opposed this proposal, challenging Senate President Akpabio and arguing that the reason given for the change—aligning the Senate’s schedule with the House of Representatives—was neither convincing nor “scientific.”

Lawan stated, “The explanation that the change was to enable the Senate to synchronize its sitting time with that of the House of Representatives is not saleable to senators.” He also contended that starting at 11 am would extend sessions until 3 pm, which conflicts with committee schedules.

Senator Bamidele defended the proposed change, explaining that senators often have multiple engagements, including oversight duties and committee assignments, which sometimes extend late into the night, making a 10 am start challenging.

To diffuse the escalating tension, Akpabio called for an executive session to discuss the issue privately. During the closed-door meeting, Akpabio reminded Lawan that the 11 am practice was inherited from Lawan’s own 9th Senate. Lawan refuted this, stating, “No, that is not correct!” Akpabio also clarified that starting at 11 am did not necessarily mean sessions would last until 3 pm, suggesting they could conclude by 1 pm instead.

In summary, the Senate’s internal conflict over the adjustment of sitting times prompted an emergency executive session to seek a resolution.